Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum Finalists

This post has been updated on 8/21/12 to include links to each winning project on the Microsoft Partners in Learning Network where each project includes a video overview and classroom resources. I’ve also updated with pictures of these proud teachers!

Last night at the Gala Awards celebration we announced 16 educators from California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Texas, and Washington states that were the finalists from this fantastic celebration of teaching. 100 educators from 25 states participated in the Forum in Seattle suffering through the rigors of a judging panel representing a cross-section of education leadership from across the United States (see a complete list of the judges and an overview of the process in this early post).

Below are summaries of each of the projects that will represent the United States at the Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 Global Forum in Prague, Czech Republic this November, perhaps best described (given the moment) as an Olympics of Teachers.

I will do my best to blog on these projects in greater detail in the weeks to come, but this gives you the flavor of the innovative, creative and passionate approach each of these individuals takes to their profession.


1st place - Jamie Ewing, Mount View Elementary (Seattle, Washington)

Project: Science in the Sky and Our Backyards: A Virtual Science Fairus_forum2012_awardsdinner_690

Students begin by exploring Earth Systems and brainstorm in small groups to create earth systems based science experiments. While designing each experiment, student groups build all the tools necessary to complete science experiments. Finished experiments will be presented in a virtual world instead of the normal science fair model. 5th grade students will build videos using Movie Maker or digital presentations in PowerPoint stored on a Windows Live SkyDrive so that they can bring their ideas to other school around the globe. Students will build video game presentations in Scratch that are interactive as well as informative. Once data is collected and experiments are finished, groups will bring their findings to the local community in the form of an ecology project to help take our findings and use them to build a better community. Community interactions will be in person but also using Skype to connect our students to community leaders.

Runner-up - Julie Hembree, AG Bell Elementary (Kirkland, Washington)

Project: Kid Lit Movies: Book Trailers for Young Readersus_forum2012_awardsdinner_671

How do you connect kids with great books? In our library, its with movies, thanks to our student-created book trailers! These videos are exciting visual previews of books. In three 4th grade library classes, teams selected a favorite book, storyboarded the content using Microsoft OneNote, and then created book trailers with Windows Live Movie Maker. These movies are used as digital advertising in our library. They are embedded on our school library blog, and on SchoolTube for a wide range of student and public access. In addition, we generated QR codes for their movies and placed them on the books themselves and on other high profile locations around the school, linking the physical book to its digital counterpart. In the process students improved their evaluative and analytical skills, while creating an engaging product designed to sell awesome books to their peers.

Extended Learning Beyond the Classroom

1st place - Pauline Roberts & Rick Joseph, Birmingham Covington School (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)

Project: Doing Business in Birminghamus_forum2012_awardsdinner_724

Doing Business in Birmingham is a Sciracy project. Sciracy aims to promote scientific literacy, or the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity. Students learn to ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences, and to describe, explain, and articulate their thoughts about the world around them. Students synthesize their learning and challenge themselves to generate creative solutions to real world problems. After learning about sustainability in business, students took to the streets of downtown Birmingham to assess the sustainability of businesses in their local community. Armed with informational flyers and brochures the students had created, they visited over ninety establishments to interview and educate local business owners.

Runner-up: Tie 

Joli Barker, Slaughter Elementary (McKinney, Texas)

Project: XBOX 360: the iConnect Projectus_forum2012_awardsdinner_662

Using Kodu gaming, gaming vernacular and concepts, 2nd grade students utilized ePals, Edmodo, Skype, and Microsoft Office, PhotoStory, Skype, and Xbox 360 to participate in a global literary book study and multimedia festival. The class connected with over 8 classrooms across the world who read the Magic Tree House books with us and participated in creating multimedia reports and Kodu games to extend and express their learning. When the book series took us to a new country, the classroom from which the book was set "hosted" the Q&A for that book via Skype. The overall result was an extraordinary literary experience that transcended reading comprehension into a cultural study and a global connection that far surpassed the original goal.


Sarah Collins & Jo Spark, Moody Elementary (Moody, Texas)

Project: Cans for the P.L.A.N.us_forum2012_awardsdinner_683

Cans for the P.L.A.N. is a campaign designed by 3rd graders to make the world cleaner and help fund campus technology. Determined to raise money to purchase document cameras, clickers, and/or tablets, third grade students started the P.L.A.N. (Proceeds for Learning And New technology). The goal was to collect enough aluminum cans each semester to purchase a new piece of equipment for a classroom. Students divided into five teams for the campaign. Team Presentation created a PowerPoint and presented Cans for the P.L.A.N. to classrooms of students on our campus. Team Advertise and Team Logo used Microsoft Word and Paint to create flyers that were distributed around our school and community. Team Video wrote a commercial to explain and promote Cans for the P.L.A.N. Finally, Team Data developed an Excel spreadsheet to track can collection and money raised. This is an ongoing program, and we plan to make our first purchase this spring.

Knowledge Building & Critical Thinking

1st place -  Jennifer Bevill, LSU Laboratory School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

Project: Peace Projectus_forum2012_awardsdinner_696

The Peace Project focuses on global collaboration between a high school in Japan and Louisiana. Interactions using SkyDrive, Skype, PowerPoint, Outlook, Word, Bing, and video/audio editing software are used to engage students regarding international understanding, tolerance, conflict and resolution, and to develop 21st century digital and communication skills that can be used in college and the workforce. Students work collaboratively to create digital media projects in order to communicate with the other school about specific historical events, literature written from different perspectives, traditional art, sustainable living, and everyday culture of interest to students. After learning about the other culture students create a project to address a common issue; an example is producing a PSA on Bullying in Schools. The project has been so inspiring that students in their second year of participation initiated a trip to Japan to meet our Japanese friends in person.

Runner-up - Cheryl Arnett & Melany Neton, Sunset Elementary School (Craig, Colorado)

Project: Let's Go To Disneyland!us_forum2012_awardsdinner_707

First and second graders researched, planned, and traveled to Disneyland, using an Xbox 360 Kinect. The project was organized on a OneNote Web document in SkyDrive in a series of student-determined tasks to be completed by collaborative teams. Tasks included locating Disneyland on a map, deciding when and how to travel, where to stay, what to take, calculating the cost, and how long they would need to save for the trip. Learning addressed educational standards including math, literacy, geography, collaboration, research, and personal financial literacy, as well as ISTE standards in critical thinking, problem solving, decision-making, research, and information fluency. Following the research and planning, students used the Kinect game Disneyland Adventures to take the virtual trip, giving the children a chance to explore the theme park using their bodies to navigate. Students kept a journal of their imaginative experience and created brochures and post cards to send to family and friends.

Cutting Edge Use of Technology

1st place - Robin Lowell & Sherry Hahn, Washington State School for the Blind (Vancouver, Washington)

Project: Accessible Distance Learning of Mathematics for Blind and Visually Impaired High School Studentsus_forum2012_awardsdinner_678

Mathematics is a challenging subject for blind and visually impaired (BVI) students because it requires specialized instruction to meet their unique accessibility needs. Access to specialized instruction is extremely limited due primarily to a shortage of Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI) qualified to teach mathematics. At the Washington State School for the Blind, we have developed a unique and effective program built on Microsoft Lync that provides specialized mathematics instruction to BVI students anywhere. Our mathematics TVI uses video conferencing to instruct her classes to any student with a Lync client and an internet connection. Specialized instruction is possible because Lync works seamlessly with assistive technologies such as Braille Displays and screen readers; which enables lecture, whiteboard, and other class materials to be delivered in accessible formats (e.g. Braille, large print, and/or audio). For 1:1 instruction, the students can easily share their work, ask for help, or submit classwork to the teacher using desktop sharing, instant messaging, and file transfer.

Runner-up - June Teisan & Alexandra Beels, Harper Woods Secondary School (Harper Woods, Michigan)

Project: Student Water Initiative in Michigan AKA "The SWIiM Team"us_forum2012_awardsdinner_654

Freshwater resources are crucial to survival across the globe, and the challenge is to equip the next generation of environmental stewards. Our Student Water Initiative in Michigan ("SWIiM Team") at Harper Woods Middle School is a year-long grant-funded project that immerses a cadre of urban 7th graders in a host of technology-rich, activity-based STEM studies out on the Great Lakes to foster environmental awareness and build stewardship skills. Central to the work of our student-scientists is BOB, our homemade Basic Observation Buoy, being deployed with a suite of water quality sensors that gather a unique 24/7 data stream. Developed with multiple partner organizations, the SWIiM Team project offers critical connections to expert mentors, robust resources, place-based experiential learning, and authentic audiences for reporting student research --- all vital components for engaging and equipping our urban, minority learners who are under-represented in the STEM fields.

Educator as Innovator and Change Agent

Gregg Witkin, Boynton Continuation High School (San Jose, CA)

Project: Finding Your Voiceus_forum2012_awardsdinner_700

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.

Educator's Choice

Todd LaVogue - Roosevelt Community Middle School (West Palm Beach, Florida)

Project: What’s Up Egypt?us_forum2012_awardsdinner_713

In order to help his students gain a better understanding of life in ancient Egypt, Todd LaVogue had his students create a TV show about ancient Egypt. Using Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer and video editing software, his students researched and created a Today show style news program with news, weather, sports, cooking, lifestyle, historical, music segments. Students were able to compare and contrast ancient Egypt with today's society very well. In the end, they had a better understanding of what it would have been like to have lived during that time.

If you would like to see a curated selection of pictures from the Forum, check out our Facebook page and to see the full “uncut” selection of pics go here.

But, of course, what’s an event without “the video” – some highlights from the past two+ days in Seattle:

Highlights from the Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum

Keep watching this blog as I hope to gather some guest posts from the above educators – #PiLUS to keep an eye out!



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Comments (2)
  1. its new information i like it

  2. graduatesbrick says:

    Thats grand…

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