The Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington recently hosted an exhibition of the some of the best projects submitted to this year’s Partners in Learning competition. The competition serves to spotlight exceptional educators who use technology in creative and innovative ways to help their students learn better. The Redmond event drew nearly 100 educators from all over the country who will now compete for a chance to represent the United States in the Partners in Learning Global Forum held in Prague later this year.
Many of the exhibited projects fell into the greening, gaming or collaboration categories. Jamie Ewing, a teacher from Mount View Elementary School in nearby Seattle, won the collaboration category with his project called Science in the Sky in Our Backyards: A Virtual Science Fair. It is a tool to help fifth graders working in groups to develop and design science fair experiments dealing with Earth systems and then present the results of the experiments in the virtual world rather than as a typical science fair project.
They use tools such as PowerPoint, Movie Maker, or Scratch to build slideshows, videos, and games that are stored on Microsoft’s cloud storage service, Windows Live SkyDrive, and shared with students elsewhere in the world. They’ll also present their findings locally as potential ecology projects and invite community leaders to participate via Skype.
Coming in second place in the same category was Julie Hembree’s Kid Lit Movies: Book Trailers for Young Readers. Hembree, who is representing AG Bell Elementary School in Kirkland, Washington, designed a way for classes to work together to write, storyboard and film book trailers for their favorite books using Microsoft OneNote and Windows Live Movie Maker. The finished trailers serve the same purpose as traditional movie trailers: to raise the students’ level of interest in a particular book.
More than a thousand teachers from all areas of the country submitted proposals from which the displays in Redmond were chosen. The contestants who were selected had their trip expenses covered by Microsoft, and the company will also cover the trip costs for those chosen to go on and present in Prague.
“These winning educators are catalysts for change and are the best in the nation at embracing technology to inspire and engage students and help transform education in their local communities,” said Andrew Ko, general manager of Microsoft’s U.S. Partners in Learning. “They all are incredibly passionate and driven to make an impact on each and every student they teach. Their creative project-based-learning classroom activities show real impact on student learning and success and should be scaled out as best practices in their own school districts and across the country.”