REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Five teachers from the U.S. were celebrated Saturday night as five of the most innovative educators in the world, as part of Microsoft Corp.'s annual Global Forum Educator Awards. During the ceremony, held in the prestigious Prague Castle to mark the culmination of the 2012 Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum, Microsoft announced 21 winners, narrowed down from more than 250,000 teachers registered across national and regional forums throughout the year.
"We can't educate tomorrow's leaders with tools and practices from the past. We must continue to invest in the development of enhanced learning environments that lead to better outcomes," said Anthony Salcito, vice president, Worldwide Education for Microsoft. "We are honored to recognize these amazing professionals for the work they do every day to enrich the educational experiences of children around the world."
These are the winning U.S. educators:
1st Place: Collaboration
Pauline Roberts and Rick Joseph; Birmingham Covington School (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)
Project: Doing Business in Birmingham
Doing Business in Birmingham 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. 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 they had created, the students visited more than 90 establishments to interview and educate local business owners. Students used Microsoft Office, Photosynth, Publisher and MovieMaker among other technologies to complete the project.
2nd Place: Cutting-Edge Use of Technology for Learning
Robin Lowell and Sherry Hahn; Washington State School for the Blind (Vancouver, Wash.)
Project: "LYNC"ing Distance Learning Math Classes to Blind and Visually Impaired Students
The Washington State School for the Blind developed an effective program built on Microsoft Lync that provides specialized mathematics instruction to blind and visually impaired students. The school's teacher lives more than 100 miles away from the campus and uses videoconferencing and Lync to instruct her classes to any student with a Lync client and an Internet connection.
3rd Place: Educators' Choice
Todd LaVogue; Roosevelt Community Middle School (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
Project: What's Up Egypt?
Students created a TV show about ancient Egypt to gain a deeper understanding of life during that time. Students used Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer and video editing software to research and create a "TODAY"-style news program with news, weather, sports, cooking, lifestyle, history and music segments. Students compared and contrasted ancient Egypt with today's society and in the end they had a better understanding of what it would have been like to have lived during that time.
"Having the opportunity to be here at the Microsoft Global Forum has been one of most meaningful experiences for both Pauline [Roberts] and me as teachers principally because we have the opportunity to interact with other practitioners from around the globe," said Rick Joseph, first-place winner in the Collaboration category. "We as teachers believe our children learn in a global environment. When we can get together with teachers from around the world and see what they're doing and see the ways in which they engage their students, it's very energizing to us because it really enables us to be the best that we can be."
"We have connected with teachers and schools from around the world that are amazingly innovative and so passionate. This is just the beginning of what we can do. There is so much more innovation and new ways of teaching, new ways of learning, that this is the tip of the iceberg," said Robin Lowell, second-place winner in the Cutting-Edge Use of Technology for Learning category. "We've gathered ideas to take home with us, which is going to improve us as teachers and improve our students' education and life."
"Teachers don't work for recognition, but for our students. Still, to have our effort and impact recognized by Microsoft as one of the country's best is an incredible feeling," said Todd LaVogue, third-place winner in the Educators' Choice category. "My intent is to give my students my very best, and the ideas I've gathered from other educators at the Partners in Learning Global Forum are helping me do just that. My students are starting to understand how special and important they are and that their success in adult life begins right now."
Saturday night's awards were presented to educators across six categories. All winners will be automatically included in the new Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Program, a one-year initiative created to recognize educators globally who are using technology to transform education. Educator Experts will become Microsoft's partner in many of its education activities throughout the year, focused on ensuring learning outcomes and sharing of experiences with peers and policymakers on effective use of technology in education.
In return, members receive the inside track on the latest Microsoft thinking and technologies, as well as access to the latest and greatest software and products. In addition, Microsoft will ensure that this group is getting the professional and career development opportunities that will be long lasting and help them make a difference in their students' lives.
Participants were judged by an international panel of education professionals through rigorous scoring. Through virtual classroom tours and onsite interviews by judges, these teachers demonstrated innovative teaching practices, giving their students critical 21st century skills, such as collaboration, critical thinking and social responsibility, by leveraging effective and engaging technology resources. Teachers were recognized across the following categories:
- Extended Learning Beyond the Classroom
- Knowledge Building and Critical Thinking
- Cutting-Edge Use of Technology for Learning
- Educator as Innovator and Change Agent
- Educators' Choice
Saturday's award ceremony was attended by more than 500 teachers, school leaders and education leaders, as well as government officials from more than 80 countries. The celebration capped off a week of education workshops and announcements, including an additional $250 million investment by Microsoft over the next five years in Partners in Learning and a new $75 million partnership between Microsoft and some of the largest and most impactful humanitarian organizations in the world to execute a program to help children and teachers gain first-time access to technology.
An example of this initiative begins today with a program entitled Spark a Child's Digital Future http://www.worldvision.org/bethespark. This initiative is a collaborative effort uniting World Vision, British Council, Microsoft and Intel, linking African youth with over 1 million potential donors in the United States alone.
About Partners in Learning
Microsoft Partners in Learning is a 15-year, $750 million commitment by Microsoft to help education systems around the world. Since its inception in 2003, the Partners in Learning program has reached more than 210 million teachers and students in 119 countries. Partners in Learning helps educators and school leaders connect, collaborate, create and share so students can realize their greatest potential. The online Partners in Learning Network is one of the world's largest global professional networks for educators, connecting millions of teachers and school leaders around the world in a community of professional development.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
SOURCE Microsoft Corp.