U.S. Teachers Win at Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 Global Forum

In the lovely setting of the Prague Castle, five teachers from Florida, Michigan and Washington state were among 21 awarded global recognition for their innovative work in the classroom. These educators, part of Team USA mentioned here last week, took home prizes in the categories: cutting edge use of technology, collaboration and Educator’s Choice.

The Partners in Learning 2012 Global Forum is an annual program which this year attracted over 250,000 teachers from around the world through a rigorous application process seeking innovative and effective uses of technology in K-12 classrooms. It culminated with roughly 115 teachers attending the Global Forum in Prague last week. The winning U.S. educators came through the US Forum held this summer in Redmond, WA (see earlier post).

It was an honor to have been present to acknowledge and celebrate these awards along with meeting other amazing educators from around the world (see official press release featuring all of the winners and this release highlighting the U.S. winners).

All of the Forum projects can be found on the Partners in Learning Network, along with short videos and other supporting materials the teachers have provided. There are direct links to each project below (while you’re there, poke around for some free software and classroom resources) and join a community of these educators here to learn more about projects from around the world.

Here are short summaries of each of the winning U.S. projects: 

Category: Collaboration

Rick Joseph & Pauline RobertsPauline Roberts (@pr05bps) & Rick Joseph (@rjoseph852)

Birmingham Covington School (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)

Project: Doing Business in Birmingham

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.


Category: Cutting Edge Use of Technology

Robin Lowell & Sherry HahnRobin Lowell (@teacherinthebox) & Sherry Hahn

Washington State School for the Blind (Vancouver, Washington)

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

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. (Here’s a short post I did earlier on this project).

Category: Educator’s Choice

Todd LaVogueTodd LaVogue (@ToddLaVogue)

Roosevelt Community Middle School (West Palm Beach, Florida)

Project: What’s Up Egypt?

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. (Here’s a guest post I hosted from Mr. LaVogue) 

You can also learn some fun facts about these teachers on the Partners in Learning Facebook page in the new Educator Spotlight app.

Please join me in congratulating these educators for their truly global achievement.


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