Silicon Valley educators on their way to the Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum

Last Saturday, on a lovely day in Silicon Valley I had a chance to visit a group of amazing educators convened by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF), a forward-thinking non-profit chartered to drive innovative teaching and learning within schools in the region. The reason for this visit was their partnership hosting a Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 Regional Forum, seeking innovative educators from the region to submit class projects that use technology in innovative ways to positively impact student learning. This regional forum was designed to send three projects, and the teachers who led them, onto the national forum hosted in Redmond this summer.image

The regional forum was led by Shubha Tuljapurkar, Amy Wong and Jennifer Li of SVEF and hosted by Liane Freeman and Gay Krause at the Krause Center for Innovation on the lovely Foothill College campus. Manny Barbara (SVEF) emceed the day featuring a poster session where educators who had reached the semi-final round shared their projects.

The day kicked-off with a thoughtful keynote by Milton Chen, Senior Fellow at the George Lucas Educational Foundation and past Executive Director of Edutopia along with a professional development workshop led by your very own @TeachTec! In short, it was a great event and I thank the hosts for making it so welcoming and pleasant.

It is always inspiring to meet motivated and forward thinking educators who are using technology in creative ways to increase student achievement. Below are the three projects that rose to the top after a thorough evaluation by judges that included three past Partners in Learning US Forum alumni (Angela Sveda, Corinne Tokara and Meg Omainsky) and Rushton Hurley, Exec Director of Next Vista for Learning.

Digital iD - Citizenship in the 21st Century

Gail Desler, Technology Integration Specialist, La Paz Middle School & Natalie Bernasconi, English/Language Arts, Elk Grove Unified School DistrictGail_Natalie_award

The Digital iD project and wiki ( to incite students to become active, ethical and contributing digital citizens. The project responds to both state and federal legal imperatives and the Common Core State Standards mandate to teach the 21st century digital skills all students need to be truly college and career ready. The Digital iD focus is 4-fold. The first focus- Stepping Up, a call to social action- is the driving force behind the project. We are committed to empowering students by providing them with the tools and strategies they need to step out onto the Internet, while also ensuring that they understand the need to build and maintain a positive digital footprint, to respect intellectual property boundaries, and to protect their privacy and developing this through a collaborative effort. The project used  a number of Web 2.0 technologies in developing and promoting the Digital iD project, Microsoft tools are integrated throughout, including Microsoft's Digital Citizenship and Creative Content curriculum, as well as different activities utilizing PowerPoint, Word, Movie Maker, and Photo Story.

Some background from Natalie on her school: La Paz Middle School is a Title 1 School located in east Salinas, the epicenter of gang warfare, with one of the highest homicide rates per capita in the state. My students are marginalized and disadvantaged in just about every metric you can apply- from poverty, health care, high dropout and unemployment rates. Both my school/district are in "Program Improvement" for failing to meet NCLB goals.

Some background from Gail on her district: The Elk Grove Unified School District is the fifth largest school district in California and the largest in Northern California. It is also a "Program Improvement" district, with high home foreclosure rates and rising poverty levels. Of the 62,000 students, close to half now qualify for free and reduced lunch.

Transitioning Still Images to Moving Pictures: Creating Movies with Meaning

Jennifer Hogan, Visual and Performing Arts/Photography, Henry M. Gunn High School JenniferH_award

As technology continues to expand in the photographic realm many manufacturers are including HD video capture as a feature of traditional DLSR cameras.This is a natural progression, as moving pictures are an extension of the still capture. This project is formulated to gain a knowledge of the techniques and experience of creating moving pictures from a still foundation. Building on our knowledge of photographic composition, lighting, and concept we will use our skills of communication to transition from a still image to capturing a visual narrative in motion. Microsoft Excel was used to aid in project management and sharing of ideas, Windows Live Movie Maker for editing movies and Songsmith.

Finding Your Voice

Gregg Witkin, Digital Media, Boynton Continuation High SchoolGregWitkin_award

Students work with a selection of technology to create youth media that has a purpose for social change. Students are able to create documentary films, animations, music videos graphics and/or audio stories, but with the caveat that it must be about a topic that is both important to them and a vehicle for social change. Students used Bing for research and developed their stories in Microsoft Word, organized their time in Excel and presented their ideas in PowerPoint.

If you would like to track the progress of the 2012 US Forum follow me at @TeachTec and the official Forum hashtag: #pilus and “Like” us on Facebook to get status updates.

The final deadline for all educators to apply is May 15th.

Fun Microsoft AutoCollage from the event (Educators get AutoCollage for free here).

AutoCollage from ShiftEd PiL Regional Forum



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Comments (2)

  1. Robert som says:

    Thanks just gave me some more ideas to explore with teachers and pupils in my district.

  2. Lee Kolbert (Palm Beach Co. FL) says:

    Congratulations to all the winners and to SVEF for hosting a successful regional forum. Best of luck in Redmond! I can't wait to hear about all the great conversations that ensue when your winners meet our winners. Cool!

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