As the General Manager of Microsoft Partners in Learning for the U.S., I have one of the best jobs in the nation: celebrating educators and the impact they have on our nation’s students. Today is a day of great pride for me as we celebrate the 2014 global class of 250 Expert Educators and 80 Mentor Schools recognized for their innovative use of technology to transform education. This group of Expert Educators were selected from more than 22,000 educators in 158 countries and the Mentor Schools came from nearly 250 schools in 75 countries.
This year, we will engage with 27 U.S. educators and six U.S. schools on a journey of transforming teaching and learning. A signature event on this journey is the Microsoft Education Global Forum March 11-14, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain where these educators and school leaders are certain to represent the U.S. well. While there, they will have the opportunity to collaborate, exchange ideas and share insights with their peers from around the world.
The Expert Educators and Mentor Schools class of 2014 are:
- Joli Barker from Slaughter Elementary (McKinney, TX). Joli’s project, The Fearless Classroom’s Heart Code Project, is a 21st century global cooperative learning project in which classrooms around the world contributed to a writing project that addressed a variety of circumstances that plague the human condition such as bullying, poverty, unrest in Africa, and natural disasters.
- Doug Bergman from Porter-Gaud School (Charleston, SC). Doug’s project is focused on final presentations in his Computer Science classes. Instead of exams, 9th graders design a table display and prepare a demo for an entire room of guests and parents, 10th grade students lead their parents through the experience of designing a real mobile app, 11th grade students “sell” the Xbox/Kinect games they programmed to a panel of “Venture Capitalist” investor/judges, and 12th Grade students identify a real problem in the community and design a digital solution.
- Jen Bevill from LSU Laboratory School (Baton Rouge, LA). Jen’s project, Breaking Barriers, is a 5-week study of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination (SPD) globally, locally, historically, and today that incorporates basic programming and Skype Interviews, concluding in a visit to South Africa to study the effects of SPD on the country.
- Michael Braun from Rainer Beach High School (Seattle, WA). Michael’s introductory computer science class learns to program smartphone applications for the Windows phone. So far, more than one third of students have had their apps loaded to the Windows Store.
- Sonja Delafosse for Everett Public Schools (Everett, WA). Sonja’s students, in teams of three, learned from experts and through research about the systems within the school building that help a building run smoothly and efficiently then created videos that described each system and how they work.
- Kelli Etheredge from St. Paul’s Episcopal School (Mobile, AL). Kelli’s students researched an environmental topic of their choice, wrote an informative essay on it, published it into online magazines, and then examined ways to create media campaigns for their causes.
- Jamie Ewing from Highline School District (Seattle, WA). Jamie’s project, Past to the Future: A Science – History – Writing and Literacy Project Based Learning Experience, challenged students to explore history and understand how the world changes to address common day issues and devise a plan to make a change in the world.
- Chelsei Fox from Grafton Middle School (Yorktown, VA). Chelsei’s students were challenged to work collaboratively to create digital posters focused on specific form of severe weather using Discovery Educations Board Builder.
- Helen Gooch, Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Fellow formerly with Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools (Clarksville, TN). Helen is recognized as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Master Trainer and Fellow for her 30 years of experience teaching and in her work training teachers to incorporate Microsoft technologies into teaching and learning. As a Fellow, she supports teachers across the U.S. through training, presentations, and helping educators understand how to effectively use technology to support student learning.
- Sherry Hahn & Robin Lowell from Washington State School for the Blind (Vancouver, WA). Sherry and Robin’s Lync project won recognition at the 2013 Global Forum, qualifying them to participate in this year’s Expert program. Sherry and Robin developed a unique and effective program built on Microsoft Lync that provides specialized mathematics instruction to blind and visually impaired students from afar.
- Julie Hembree from Alexander Graham Bell Elementary (Kirkland, WA). Julie’s project, Books to Africa, is a student driven global literacy project resulting from the International Dot Day where the students listened to The Dot and then made artwork reflecting how they want to make their mark on the world.
- Becky Keene from Kent School District (Kent, WA). Becky organized Tech Talk, a one-hour professional development training session hosted on Microsoft Lync for teachers from the entire district focused on tools useful to their teaching positions.
- Todd LaVogue from Roosevelt Middle School (West Palm Beach, FL). Todd’s project, What’s up Egypt, won recognition at the 2013 Global Forum, qualifying him for participation this year. Students created a TV show about ancient Egypt and at the end of the project, had a better understanding of what it would have been like to have lived during that time.
- David Lopez, Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow formerly with Hillsborough County Public Schools (Tampa, FL). David is recognized as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainer and Fellow with seven years in education as a second career. Beginning at the classroom level David realized that there were tools and technology that were being underutilized in the classroom which led to his passion to deliver teacher training. As a Fellow, he supports teachers across the U.S. through training, presentations, and helping educators understand how to effectively use technology to support student learning.
- Eric Patnoudes from Joliet Township High School (Joliet, IL). Eric’s project utilizes a blogging website to demonstrate the power of an authentic audience for students and how it impacts their motivation and engagement in the learning process.
- Jill Pierce from McMinn County Schools (Athens, TN). Jill’s project focuses on building students’ email skills.Tasks allow students to work, communicate and collaborate with peers using 21st century skills as they develop projects and challenges, much in the same way they will when they graduate.
- Patricia Ragan from Canastota Central SD (Canastota, NY). Patricia’s project, CEO: Collaborative & Enterprising Opportunity, is a program on a mission to bridge the gap between the corporate room and the classroom where business students were paired with CEO’s/business owner/business leaders via Skype to draft a business plan.
- Laura Rahn from Blue Ridge Middle School (Purcellville, VA). Laura used a project based learning approach to have students collaborate and review the basic Geometry concepts and create a digital product to share.
- Pauline Roberts from Birmingham Public Schools (Bloomfield Hills, MI). Pauline’s “sciracy” (a new word that blends science and literacy which aims to promote the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision-making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity) project, Doing Business in Birmingham, won recognition at the 2013 Global Forum, qualifying her for participation this year. After learning about sustainability in business, students took to the streets of downtown Birmingham to assess the sustainability of businesses in their local community.
- Donna Roman from Geneva School District (Geneva, IL). Donna’s class works with a classroom in Ireland on a collaborative history and geography project incorporating research, reading, writing, presenting, reflecting, playing music, and learning about each other’s cultures.
- Josh Sawyer and Bradley Smrstick from Hillsborough County Public Schools (Tampa, FL). Josh and Bradley host the Microsoft Innovative Educator for Hillsborough County Public Schools 2013 (MIEHCPS13), a five-day professional development event providing educators with training on 21st Century Learning Design. This event provides teachers with a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) certificate while also earning 30 hours of professional development credit.
- Kim West Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow, formerly from STEM High School (Redmond, WA). Kim is recognized as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Master Trainer and Fellow for her work training teachers to incorporate Microsoft technologies into teaching and learning. Kim has 15 years of experience teaching and training teachers to incorporate Microsoft technologies into teaching and learning. As a Fellow, she supports teachers across the U.S. through training, presentations, and helping educators understand how to effectively use technology to support student learning.
- Don Wettrick from Franklin Community High School (Franklin, IN). Don’s innovations class chooses a topic they are interested in then researches, connects and collaborates with an expert in that field, blogs about the project, make updates via social media, and presents the findings to stakeholders.
- Gloria Wood from The Bolles School (Jacksonville, FL). Gloria’s robotics class hosted a Robotics Jousting Tournament where students designed robots, created flags, and organized the event.
- Jaime Worrall from Christa McAuliffe Middle School (West Palm Beach, FL). Jamie’s middle school algebra students were transformed into an electronic publishing firm tasked with the responsibility of writing their own algebra book in “kid-friendly” language for their peers and the world to learn from.
- Birmingham Covington School (Bloomfield Hills, MI). The school is committed to being a Global Learning Hub where people can see, learn and participate in intellectually rich, future-orientated activities. Birmingham Covington conceived a project titled “Engage,” designed to engage students in problem-based and project-based activities that integrate elements of science, technology education and language arts, as well as the four elements of the enGauge 21st Century Skills: Digital-Age Literacy, Inventive Thinking, Effective Communication and High Productivity.
- Dunbar High School (Dunbar, FL). Dunbar High School is equipping its students with a competitive technical edge over most college-bound students through its advance STEM programs uniquely designed to offer 9th-12th grade students hands-on real life experiences that lead to earning industry certification. Students use computer bench sets, networking hardware and software, application programs, virtualization, mobile labs and the Microsoft IT Academy Membership to facilitate a variety of learning tasks that lead to how these tools can enhance productivity in a variety of career related areas.
- Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart (Bellevue, WA). The school deployed Office 365 and Windows 8 with OneNote across tablet PC devices to students and faculty removing the need for handouts or portals to deliver and consume content and ideas and providing ways to collaborate on and off campus. Since the implementation of the school’s 1:1 program 100% of students are accepted into colleges and in 2012, $4.1 million dollars in scholarships were awarded to the 47 students of the senior class.
- Great Falls Elementary Schools (Great Falls, MT). Great Falls teachers use a variety of effective technological strategies to engage students through an innovative, challenging curriculum that is focused on inquiry-based, hands-on learning. Teachers work collaboratively to create a culture of excellence by using technology to support learning across the curriculum to address the specific needs of students based on assessment data.
- McGlone Elementary School (Denver, CO). The school is part of the School Turnaround program, an intensive intervention and leadership development initiative that helps principals turn around failing or underperforming schools. McGlone is using innovation to gain greater flexibility in certain areas of school operation such as curriculum and instruction, staffing, the use of time, and professional development. McGlone is committed to ensuring all fifth-grade students’ transition to middle school with the academic skills, language skills and social skills they will need for success in secondary school, college and careers. It serves as a model for successful educational reform for schools across the country.
- Sammamish High School (Sammamish, WA). Sammamish faculty, in collaboration with Andrew Shouse and his team of researchers at the University of Washington Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, have crafted a document outlining seven key elements of a project based learning (PBL) classroom. As of the 2013-14 school year, teacher-led teams have redesigned nearly 30 courses in accordance with the “key elements” and the PBL framework.
These educators and schools play an important role amongst their peers and for Microsoft. Expert Educators and Mentor Schools work closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education. They are education advocates who share their experiences with their peers and work with policy makers to ensure technology is implemented effectively in education. They provide insight for Microsoft on new products and tools in education. They share valuable experiences, lessons and best practices and they work together as a community to promote ideas to innovate in teaching and learning.
To be selected, educators and schools had to demonstrate a commitment to innovation and the ability to overcome obstacles in preparing students to be 21st century learners. They undergo a rigorous application process; they are required to fill out an online application, create a learning activity and a two-to-three minute non-professionally produced video that describes their project and how they used technology and innovative teaching practices to impact student outcomes. The winners are selected by a worldwide group of judges who use a broad set of criteria to assess the evidence of learning, collaboration, knowledge construction and critical thinking among other things. Educators are selected based on their innovation, leadership skills and effective use of technology for better learning and student outcomes, schools are selected based on their record of educational success, community leadership and successful school management.
Please give these educators and schools a virtual round of applause and keep an eye out on this blog as we delve deeper into a handful of these projects and approaches to innovative learning. To be part of the next class of Expert Educators and Mentor Schools, go to the Partners in Learning Network to sign up and submit an application.