Innovative Education: Meet The 100 Best Teachers Using Tech In The Classroom

Rob Bayuk (Redmond, WA) —

We at Microsoft Education are excited to announce the official list of educators for the Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 U.S. Forum. This is the 8th annual Partners in Learning Forum, a global program that last year attracted more 250,000 educators from over 70 countries. The Partners in Learning 2012 U.S. Forum focuses on showcasing and celebrating educators and the work they are doing in classrooms across the United States. A select few will go on to represent the U.S. at that Partners in Learning Global Forum in Athens, Greece in November.

This year we received an unprecedented number of applications and we want to sincerely congratulate all that took the time to apply and share their work. What is inspiring about this process is seeing the number of creative and innovative projects teachers are doing in the classroom. Educators across the K-12 spectrum are applying technology as a key tool to encourage critical thinking, while solving real-word problems that extend learning beyond the traditional classroom, ultimately preparing students for their 21st century future.

This summer we are inviting 102 educators from 25 states to showcase their projects (here is the official press release). Educators will travel to Microsoft’s worldwide campus in Redmond, WA (July 31-Aug 1) to share their work, collaborate with like-minded educators and participate in professional development activities. Each project will be carefully evaluated BY a, they, the, turning,being,a, a, students, well, using, the, the, people, visitors, well, providing, a, they, students, an, a, they, a, they, well, thematically, they, video, pragmatics, the, enrollment, “customers”, they, a, Congressmen, well, informative., digital, well, our, crosswalks described their dream world. Some chose to do PowerPoint presentations, while others opted to use web 2.0 tools like Prezi, Animoto, or VoiceThread. Several students created skits and produced videos. In efforts to share their Dream World with others, we hosted a World Fair and invited parents and students to join us. After creating QR codes that linked student projects to Ms. Oh’s website, students distributed cards with the codes so that parents and students could view the projects by simply scanning the cards.

Lisa Perez, Dept. of Instructional Tools & Technology, Chicago Public Schools (Chicago)


CPS KINECT is a project that involves nine Chicago Public Schools sites in the use of XBox 360 Kinect across the curriculum. Teachers have used the system to introduce gaming in the language arts, mathematics, physical education, special education, and extra-curricular learning. In this highly successful program, students are motivated and engaged in learning due to the gaming approach to learning. Schools have shared their learning via photos, video and blog posts. Our wiki ( showcases the work of our students via our blog (, teachers report on the work of their students and comments of colleagues.


Rodrigo Anadon, Penn High School (Mishawaka)

Project: STEM Gaming Challenge

By using video game development to tackle a problem in STEM, secondary students generate software that is fun, engaging, and educational using software development tools. Students have the option of using Visual Studio, Visual Basic, C++, C# (with the XNA Framework), or a different programming environment to generate a video game that can be incorporated in classes of STEM or other disciplines to engage students in learning. Student-lead teams of four allow for the challenge to incorporate competition, collaboration, and computation among students. Each team consists of a team leader, lead programmer, lead digital artist, and lead audio engineer. Each role must be filled by each student. At the end of the program development cycle, teams will present their STEM game to the class and present their experience in the process.

Don Wettrick, Franklin Community High School (Franklin)

Project: Skype, Camera, Action!

Skype, Camera, Action! is a class project for an advanced broadcasting class. Over the past three years the project has evolved into a state-wide film festival. Collaborating with other teachers, a film festival was started to showcase the top fifteen films from this project every March. The project involves inquiry-based topics that revolve around the theme of passion for this year’s festival. Students must research, interview, shoot and edit a fifteen to twenty minute documentary. The project requires significant time outside of school to complete, but many students make valuable contacts and gain real world knowledge as they complete the documentary. The top films then are showcased for the public to see at a local historic movie theater.


Mary Durand and Tracy Rampy, Humboldt Middle School (Humboldt)

Project: Cubs That Care

Within the first week of implementing the Technology Rich Classroom Grant, students were asked an essential question: What do you feel needs changing in your community? Students formed small collaborative groups to select a topic for change. Students created PowerPoint presentations using the photography and video data they gathered and analyzed to persuade their peers. The winning vision was to improve the safety within the community for walking and bicycling by all ages and mobilities. When presented to administration, improvements were made to the middle school crosswalk. The students were then presented with an opportunity to further their project through the Safe Routes to School program. Students gathered data through video, photography, surveys, interviews and observation. Students compiled this information into a Safe Routes to School Action Plan, held a town hall meeting to gain community support, and finally a $250,000 KDOT grant proposal to make their vision a reality.


Meghan Bottom, Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary School (Lexington)

Project: A Flipped Geometry Classroom: Using SkyDrive to Tier, Differentiate, and Assess while Promoting Student-Centered Learning

New avenues are opened for students by creating a flipped math classroom using a content driven database of Internet resources on Windows Live SkyDrive. By having students view mini-lesson videos at home, class time can be spent participating in interactive, tiered learning involving watching videos, learning songs, playing games, taking practice quizzes, and solving real-world problems either independently or with others at their level. Each child is given an entry slip which determines the appropriate starting level of instruction for the day. Students may re-test during class to move to the next tier of challenges once they are ready. An exit slip is used as the final measurement of academic growth at the end of class. Lessons may span over a few days depending on student needs. Content knowledge is then used to solve complex, authentic tasks and create products to demonstrate mastery of the material.

Jeanne Caudill, Mullins School (Pikeville)

Project: Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint is an ongoing project-based learning experience undertaken by first graders in my classroom. The objective of the teaching unit was to bring awareness of how the students’ habits impact the environment and to find steps that each child can take to save the earth. The students began the unit with studying ways to reduce energy consumption. After realizing that many people waste electricity by leaving their cell phone and laptop computer chargers plugged into the outlets, their first campaign to raise awareness was to create a Public Service Announcement (PSA) called Just Unplug It using Windows Movie Maker. Another PSA the students created was titled Reducing Our Carbon Footprint and focused on simple ways to eliminate waste such as turning off the lights when leaving the room and recycling. The students showcased their films at the Student Technology Leadership Programs Kentucky competition winning a trophy as being Best in Showcase.

Shannon Putman, Cochran Elementary (Louisville)

Project: Sensory Integration-The Future Of Teaching

Project Sensory Integration-After witnessing firsthand the success of using the Xbox Kinect with my special needs students, I was inspired to get my students involved in the process and create a sensory integrated, academic Kinect game that would appeal to all types of students. Brain Drain mixes research based, proven effective fine and gross motor movements with sensory integrated tasks to create the highest learning environment possible. Students use their body and spatial awareness skills to complete academic learning tasks. When students of all learning styles have an aligned and balanced sensory system, they are able to retain more information and learn new tasks at a much higher and more efficient rate.


Jennifer Bevill, LSU Laboratory School (Baton Rouge)

Project: Peace Project

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.


Nancy Ale and Michelle Lipson, Earle B. Wood Middle School (Rockville)

Project: Environmental Stewardship

Students research the state of Chesapeake Bay oyster depletion due to pollution. This issue has relevance to Montgomery County students due to their familiarity with the Chesapeake Bay through science and history instruction, recreational use, and as a food resource. Concurrent instruction with science course work allows for a greater depth of Chesapeake Bay ecology. Students use Microsoft Office to support this specific issue of Chesapeake Bay Oyster depletion. Using information from print, audio and video research students use higher order thinking to determine which strategies for renewal of oyster population have the greatest potential for impact on the Bay. Students develop a multimedia presentation public service announcement to inform the local community and government of the current status of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. As a capstone to classroom activities, students participated in creating Oyster Reef Balls, a technology being used to promote oyster growth.

Brenda Green, Cabin John Middle School (Potomac)

Project: Hide and Seek–Kodu Style!

Middle school students develop and demonstrate programming skills using Kodu to create a unique hide and seek game. Collaborative problem-solving is encouraged to brainstorm ideas, with remote teamwork enabled BY a, they, the, turning, being, a, a, students, well, using, the, the, people, visitors, well, providing, a, they, students, an, a, they, a, they, well, thematically, they, video, pragmatics, the, enrollment, “customers”, they, a, Congressmen, well, informative., digital, well, our, crosswalks 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.

David Squires, Oak Valley Middle School (Commerce Township)

Project: Solving Unemployment

The overarching objective of the project is to achieve the impossible: solve unemployment. Communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity are all fostered as students work with each other, their teacher, and their community while they immerse themselves into a problem that deeply affects their lives. Students build 21st Century Skills while intensively drawing on content from their core academic classes. Data analysis, economics, presentation skills, effective communication and many other content standards are incorporated throughout the duration of this semester-long quest to better the community collaborating centrally through Microsoft OneNote as well as using OneNote to create audio and video recordings of scenes of the literature and to create study guides.

June Teisan and Alexandra Beels, Harper Woods Secondary School (Harper Woods)

Project: Student Water Initiative in Michigan AKA “The SWIiM Team”

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.


Krisandra Venosdale, Hillsboro Intermediate (Hillsboro)

Project: Iditalearn 2012: The Iditarod

Students will explore the history, culture, and content of the Great Alaskan Sled Dog Race: The Iditarod. The essential question “Why take a risk?” is focused on In this cross-curricular unit. Focus includes student technology skills, collaboration, problem solving, and creativity as the history of the race, the culture of Alaska, the wildlife of the great state, and the race are analyzed. A race poem is turned into a digital story. As the race is tracked live online, interest is built, sled speeds are graphed and analyzed in Excel, temperatures are charted, and musher diaries are created collaboratively. Students tweet with mushers and hold a post-race Skype session. A culmination of the unit involves the creation of an Iditarod-themed digital newspaper. It’s the Iditalearn 2012… and it’s all about the Iditarod and learning!

New Jersey

Kim Leegan, Union Catholic Regional High School (Scotch Plains)

Project: Interactive Civil War Museum

After studying the Civil War, students worked in teams to create an interactive museum. Each team selected a topic on the Civil War and conducted research using Encarta, Bing, Internet Explorer and other on-line search databases. Each team created a Visual Display regarding the chosen topic and used voice thread technology and/or Movie Maker to record a voice over regarding the selected topic. Exhibits were put on display and student laptops were placed next to each exhibit. As people toured the museum, museum visitors could watch the Moviemaker Films regarding each exhibit. Each team also created a QR Code with additional hidden information on the chosen topic. Museum visitors were invited to scan the QR Codes and gathered additional information on the topics. As visitors exited the museum, they were invited to Tweet the exhibit creators with comments or questions. Twitter feed was later followed in class.

New York

Vincent Interrante, Mineola Middle School (Mineola, NY) and Robyn Hrivnatz, Lamar ISD (Rosenberg, TX)

Project: Reach For The Stars

Reach for the Stars is a 21st Century Project Based Learning experience that have 6th grade students collaborate with students in the design and construction of a water bottle rocket that will have the longest elapsed flight time. Over 225 students from five different schools on three different continents participated in the Reach for the Stars. Student teams consisted of 1-2 students from each participating school. The students shared design, construction and flight information with their team using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Windows Live Movie Maker. Students offered design and construction recommendations so their fellow teammate can improve their overall flight time. Flight Data was shared using Microsoft Excel. Through the utilization of Edline, each student team contributed in a threaded discussion by reflecting on their individual flight information as well as providing constructive feedback to their team.

Christina Jenkins & Francesca Fay, NYC iSchool (New York City)

Project: #Disastercamp

#Disastercamp asks high school students to design creative solutions for disaster response. Inspired by the 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup Emergency Response and Crowd Sourcing challenge, this course investigates the extent to which natural disasters are ever natural and looks to design as a methodology for creative problem solving. In this course, participants engage with each step of the design process as they move toward a final concept that leverages social media and other tools to improve communication and coordination for disaster relief.

Patricia Ragan, Canastota Jr. Sr. High School (Canastota)

Project: The Canastota Apprentice

The Canastota Apprentice is an experiential learning program that fosters the competitive spirit and inspires students to reach their highest potential in real-world settings. The Canastota Apprentice is modeled after reality television shows and focuses on academics. The objective is to be “hired” by the teacher through completion of rigorous tasks assigned weekly using various technologies including Microsoft Office , Flip Cameras, Movie Maker, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver. Students strive to remain in the program by conducting themselves in a professional manner in the boardroom while being judged by faculty and administrative volunteers. Students are assigned tasks weekly and compete in teams to win the title of The Canastota Apprentice. As students are “fired”, they are re-hired in a capacity that fits the students skill set displayed through the program to date. For example, an international student from Denmark was re-hired as an International Business Advisor to promote the program overseas.

North Carolina

Julie Conn, Sugarloaf Elementary (Hendersonville)

Project: Voices of Autism: Igniting Communication through Technology

It is well documented that effective instructional methods to improve communication of children with autism (and other disabilities) include written prompts and pictorial cues, video feedback, and self-modeling of social behaviors and conversational skills. This PhotoStory-based project presents an exceptional tool to combine these effective instructional methods and students strengths to produce a powerful joint activity communication lesson. Posting student photo stories on a class web page and observing students with disabilities eagerly acquiring the independent skills to navigate to the website to repeatedly watch the photo stories demonstrates the increased levels of engagement. Affording parents instant access to hearing their child read, view projects and events has impacted their visions for their child. PhotoStory is aptly suited for children with autism and other disabilities, easy to use and produces a powerful output: voice.

Lorraine Ethridge and Stephanie Hall, The Fletcher School (Charlotte)

Project: BizMovie

Using BizMovie as a basis, students created a business, that combines entrepreneurship, and movie production. Students collaborated in teams of 6 to 8 to write a script, storyboard, determine shooting locations, props and “costs” associated with the production. They use Windows Live Movie Maker to edit the project and Microsoft OneNote and SkyDrive to collaborate on it. They also experienced the entrepreneurial cycle working together to design, produce, market and sell tickets to their film. According to their website, “BizMovie teaches students the value of creative and critical thinking as they gain practical experience in the business world. Participation helps students to see how their unique talents and skills translate from the classroom to the real world.”

Gail Holmes, North Carolina Virtual Public Schools (Raleigh)

Project: Authentic Learning in a Virtual World

Working with students can be a challenging experience if you do not have the appropriate tools to engage and motivate students. Through this virtual school students learn how to use a variety of computer applications with the goal of engaging students with an interest in technology and key applications. Opening announcements using Windows Movie Maker encourage and provide tutorials and instructions for successfully completion of the days assignments. To help students prepare for end of course exams and reflect on their learning on Microsoft Office tools; Excel, Access, Word, PowerPoint, students will create an ongoing Movie Maker presentations to reflect on learning. Students will create videos to share artifacts and how the information learned each week can be applied in real world scenarios. These videos will be used to review for the end of course test which is given at their home based schools.

Kacey Sensenich and Kevin Combs, E.E. Smith High School (Fayetteville)

Project: Has Hollywood Gone Too Far Bending the Laws of Science?

Students love movies, especially teenagers! Movies are made for entertainment purposes. Film makers have discounted the science that governs our world to create fantastic events for our enjoyment. Students become numb to the chemical and physical sciences that directly contradict Hollywood blockbuster movies. Students are challenged to locate their favorite movies or television shows where Hollywood exaggerated the laws of science. After identifying an unrealistic event, use sound scientific concepts to prove Hollywood lost touch with reality. The project is located in Microsoft OneNote. Using Windows 7, Microsoft Office and Windows Movie Maker students begin researching. Collaboration continues using Edmodo. Using personal devices to connect to the schools wireless allow students to collaborate any time. The culminating activity is a presentation using PowerPoint or a student selected Web 2.0 tool to report findings, organize ideas, and present to peers.


Jenifer Conard, Springboro High School (Lebanon)

Project: Going Green at the Grocery

This project provides a solution to achieving paper-less checkout at the grocery. In our partnership with Kroger, we learned about inventory control and point of sale systems. Our intention was to create a mobile application that would be attached to a cart and used as a POS while the customer was shopping. The business process would be stream-lined to allow the customer a “check-out” as they go and the payment and verification would be done by store management at the conclusion of the customer’s shopping experience. Students used Microsoft Visual Studio, SQL Server, Access and more to create the application.

Greg Martin, Cincinnati Country Day School (Cincinnati)

Project: Secrets of the Dead: Writers at Home

The ninth grade Humanities course of study at Cincinnati Country Day focuses on ancient and early modern civilizations and their literary and artistic outputs. The courses feed upon one another in terms of historical context building (the socio-, geo-political framework out of which the Odyssey was written) as well as thematically (the way class distinctions in ancient China are similar to those that appear in Dickens’ Great Expectations). The courses also aim to strengthen communications skills. Two years ago, we added a capstone research project, a video documentary that requires traditional research, analysis, and argumentation, but also requires creativity and collaboration. Students conduct extensive collaborative research using shared Microsoft OneNote notebooks. They then write scripts for the 10-12 minute documentary using both Microsoft Word and OneNote. In the final production phase, they use Windows Live Movie Maker to create a video documentary that makes an argument about the past.


Lora Davis, Keith Valley Middle School (Horsham)

Project: The Power of Persuasion: Pack a Powerful Punch with a Multimedia Approach

Eighth grade Language Arts students evaluated audience and purpose as they tailored their choice of words, images and audio to get the most powerful punch from each of the required components of a multimedia presentation designed to convince Warren Buffett, one of our country’s most generous philanthropists, to write the “big check” to their chosen foundation. Their journey from concerned students to committed activists started with research to craft a formal proposal, to production of a public service announcement movie about their foundations, and ended with their best “pitch” to Mr. Buffett enhanced by a PowerPoint.

Kelly Farmer and Tom Gaffey, High School of the Future (Philadelphia)

Project: Social KINECTions

The Social KINECTions Program helps children with autism build confidence not only by learning social skills and making friends, but also by engaging in activities at which they excel, such as video gaming, social networking, kinesthetic and conversation. Students with autism are encouraged to develop their abilities and embrace their identities through creativity, collaboration, and play. The group consists of students diagnosed with Autism and their typical peers. The teacher works with students on socialization such as pragmatics (conversation skills), body positioning, negotiation, friendship building and nonverbal communication. The most important goal is for students to have fun with peers and make friends. The XBox with Kinect is used to engage all students in activating body motion, practicing good sportsmanship, and stimulating body awareness.

Young Kim, High School of the Future (Philadelphia)

Project: Van Gogh: Kinesthetic Mark-making

Van Gogh was a brilliant artist with a unique painting technique. To appreciate his work, students need to have an awareness of the mark-making process in art. In previous Van Gogh projects, drawing with oil pastels on paper with short repetitive marks were to emulate the brush strokes. The Kinect is a great tool to engage students in activating the body motion possibly used by Van Gogh to create his paintings. The kinesthetic mark-making Van Gogh digital painting project is the culminating experience of appreciating a museum artifact. Students analyzed qualitative similarities and differences of seeing a Van Gogh painting on a poster to the actual artifact in a museum and then visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art to learn about Van Gogh while viewing original paintings. Back in the classroom, they created digital paintings by kinesthetically painting with the Xbox 360 Kinect and KinectPaint.

Kate Reber, Bodine High School for International Affairs (Philadelphia)

Project: PSSA Video Contest

For this contest students create videos to teach their classmates a study strategy for the Pennsylvania State Exams, the PSSAs. The purpose of this project is to make test preparation more engaging, increase student buy-in, and genuinely reinforce the understanding and use of a test-taking strategy.

Peter Sigmund and Braden Bonner, La Salle College High School (Wyndmoor)

Project: Lab Manager Program

Calling on deep experience coaching the crew team, this project creates a team approach with the ultimate goal to “win the race” in the classroom. There are “tryouts” to entice through friendly competition and those tryouts include Microsoft certifications that students can get through the school’s Microsoft IT Academy, in addition to participating in interviews and seeking recommendations. The lab manager program is a unique technology team at La Salle College High School. Every year 50+ applications are submitted to join the team of the top tech students in the school. The program gives La Salle students the chance to gain hands on experience running a real network. Students have the chance to gain true experiential learning. This is not a printer help desk. Some of our senior lab managers become Domain Administrators with the same rights as the school network administrators gaining valuable real-world experience and preparation for life after high school.

Kim Sivick and Marisol Booth, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Philadelphia)

Project: Culture Studies

The Culture Studies project in fourth grade serves to give students a sense of the world around them, an understanding of cultures around the globe. The students develop a framework which helps them research, compare and contrast cultures. Using books and online resources, the students gather information; create poster presentations and digital presentations using PowerPoint. The students then blog about the countries they have studied. Students receive authentic feedback from people living around the world. They develop a global voice, experience a positive digital footprint, and contributed to the learning of others. Students learn to create a blog post that inspires and educates readers. This year their blogging project included translations into 14 languages, visits from people in 45 countries, and over 300 comments. The culminating events are individual presentations at the annual Multicultural Festival.

Pamela Volakis, West Allegheny High School (Imperial)

Project: Shapes, Letters, and Numbers; XNA Games for the next generation

As enrollment in computer science classes declined this project introduced a new approach to teaching traditional programming concepts combining critical thinking, creativity and business thinking. Prompted by student use of computer gaming, this concept was incorporated into the computer science curriculum. Students worked directly with Preschool and Life Skills teachers to join forces by creating games to teach preschool and life skills students specific skills through student-developed games. Programming students observed and worked with students as “customers” in the preschool and life skills classes. Collaborating increased student communication skills and enabled students to design games meaningful for the preschoolers and other students using Visual Studio, XNA Game Studio and Xbox 360.

South Carolina

Marion Meyers, AC Moore Elementary (Columbia)

Project: Literacy Edge/Collaboration and Cultural Responsiveness

Literacy Edge encompasses collaboration and communication across cultures. with emphasis on promoting cultural responsiveness amongst students.The Literacy Edge empowers students to collaborate, communicate and respect others differences. Students learn ways to resolve issues and work collaboratively through responses and solutions. This facilitates life skills that can be applied in other settings, in school and beyond. Students in the program will apply strategies that improve their reading, writing and higher critical thinking skills. As they cultivate these skills, they produce student-generated work, using a variety of digital literacy strategies and technology including Microsoft Office, PhotoStory, Tikatok, Toondoo, and Voice Thread.


Joli Barker, Slaughter Elementary (McKinney)

Project: XBOX 360: the iConnect Project

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 and Jo Spark, Moody Elementary (Moody)

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

Cans for the PLAN is a media campaign designed by 3rd graders to promote their plan to make the world cleaner and help fund campus technology. Determined to raise money to purchase document cameras, clickers, and/or tablets, third 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 themselves into five teams for the campaign. Team Presentation created a Power Point and presented Can for the PLAN to 15 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 commercial to explained and promoted Can for the Plan. Finally, Team Data developed an Excel spreadsheet to track cans collection and money raised. This is an ongoing program and we plan to make our first purchase this spring.

Angela Kirkendoll, Martin Luther King, Jr. Early Childhood Center (Houston)

Project: If The Sea Were My Home

Students researched the 2010 Gulf oil spill to explain how it affected the environment, community, and the world. Students collaborated on a classroom book and music video to show how the animals and ocean were affected by the oil spill. During the summer, Pre-Kindergarten English and bilingual students attended a technology camp facilitated by the library media specialist. At the time, the April 20, 2010 Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill was all over the news and students had a lot of questions this teachable moment led to a project in which students could do research and participate in a whole group study using technology. Students collaborated with their teacher to write a book in Microsoft Word about the oil spill and used photographs to tell the story. For a final project study, students created a music video in Windows Movie Maker to showcase what they learned through song.


Stephen Biscotte, Cave Spring High School (Roanoke)

Project: PIT Crew: Physiologists in Training Program

The PIT Crew: Physiologists In Training Program pairs senior Anatomy and Physiology students with community experts in the field to conduct real-world exercise physiology research through a combination of in-person and Skype conversations. The students explore current literature in online databases and fitness magazines based on their personal interests, design exercise physiology “clinical trials”and with the guidance of exercise physiologists from a local health sciences college, gather data, analyze the data, and develop conclusions that build on the course’s content, specifically the musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory systems. Students use Vernier data collection sensors (e.g. HR, BP, EKG) to gather baseline fitness data on freshmen PE student classes. Next, they explore their research question (e.g. “fitness demands of Zumba with a DVD and Zumba with Xbox Kinect and their effects on heart rate and BP”) and analyze and share their data in Excel. Students present their findings in a poster session judged by the healthcare professionals.

Amy Burk, Westgate Elementary School (Falls Church)

Project: Student Technology CUBS Computer Upkeep & Breakdown Service

The Technology CUBS (Computer Upkeep and Breakdown Service) program teaches 5th and 6th grade students technology skills, teaches them how to use technology to solve problems and provides a benefit to the school. Through weekly meetings with the School Based Technology Specialist, Tech CUBS develop technology, leadership and life skills they apply in their classrooms and in their studies, which makes a positive impact on each Tech CUB student, the school and the community. The program provides students of all ability levels and diverse backgrounds a unique learning opportunity and one-on-one support from the schools technology teacher. The program began as a need to help an overcrowded diverse school community and has grown into a program of role model students.

Bonnie Ellis, York High School (Yorktown)

Project: You Are What You Eat

The purpose of this project was twofold. First, the project fostered a sense of commitment in students that went beyond earning a letter grade. Students were asked to assess the nutritional value of their school lunches and through research and collaboration with other students, educational professionals and nutritional experts, create a new menu that is both nutritionally sound and has food that high school students would eat. This project also created work that has personal value to the students and value to others. This is a real world issue the students were working to solve. All products the students created were sent out to policy makers such as Congressmen, local representatives, the president of the company that provides our school lunches, and the superintendent. The products were also shared with other teachers to use in their classroom with younger students. During the project, students had access to a host of Microsoft programs including Publisher, Excel and Movie Maker.

Gaynell Lyman and Debra Roethke, Henrico County Public Schools (Henrico)

Project: Henrico 21

Teachers, eager to refine their 21st century instruction, consistently ask: ‘Show me what it looks like!’ Henrico 21 does just that. This repository features over 500 high quality lessons that support the development of 21st century literacies. The teachers that author these lessons, model creative integration of Microsoft products and other modern technologies to foster a rich K-12 learning environment. Lessons are evaluated using the Teaching Innovation Progression Chart (TIP Chart,) Henrico’s 21st century rubric. Using the power of WordPress to format and post lessons, this constantly-evolving site has grown from 8 to over 500 lessons in less than two years. With the addition of Student 21 this year, students can now easily publish their work to share with a larger network. Henrico 21 is changing the culture in our schools and developing community surrounding 21st century learning.

Kimberly Rouse & Martha Potts, Newton-Lee Elementary (Ashburn)

Project: Through Many Lenses

Students from two different states join together on a journey through the American Civil War using a flipped classroom model. Utilizing primary and secondary sources, students gain multiple perspectives on the war. Students learn through inquiry-based lessons how the Civil War affected different groups: the government, soldiers, generals, people living in the North or South, slaves, and many more. The primary and secondary resources add a sense of authenticity to the lessons and allow the students to use evidence to support historical ideas they formulate throughout the lessons. Students examine and evaluate the primary and secondary resources for historical context in relation to war. By taking on a flipped classroom approach, our inquiry-based lessons garner more motivation, discussion time, Skype time, hands-on learning time, and engagement with students. Monique Howley from Newton-Lee Elementary and Kristy Woods from Stahl Elementary in San Antonio, Texas were also instrumental collaborators in this project.

Kelley Queen and Jennifer Thomas, York County School Division (Yorktown)

Project: Technology Tuesdays

Examining a teachers work day, there is little time for professional learning. Once the day is over, there are the responsibilities of home and family that take priority. Teachers have the desire to learn about new technologies, but scheduling a time and place for training is sometimes a challenge. This is what motivated drove the creation of Technology Tuesdays, to find a way to meet the needs of those teachers who want training, but who aren’t able to spend time with facilitators during their after school sessions. These optional sessions are aligned with the county’s professional development goals and objectives, covering current technology trends and do this at a time that’s more convenient for teachers. Trainers are able to deliver valuable sessions after contract hours to an unlimited number of teachers online, and in the convenience of their own homes.


Ericha Anderson and Alicia Cast, Chinook Elementary (Vancouver)

Project: Snake River Dams Removal? You Decide!

In collaborative groups, students will use an electronic salmon resource pathfinder and World Book online to research the Snake River Dam Proposal. Each group will be given a different stakeholder interest group to research (e.g., hydroelectric companies, eastern Washington farmers, commercial and sport fishermen, and environmentalists). They will collaborate to evaluate and analyze the data found and then present the information to their classmates. The teacher will assist by creating a matrix of all the information shared. Individual students will then take a position on the issue. They will write a short persuasive speech including information from the research and at least two stakeholder’s positions on the issue. They will create and import their voice recordings, illustrations, maps, and photos into Windows Movie Maker to produce a digital story defining their position.

Michael Braun, Rainer Beach High School (Seattle)

Project: Exploration of Computer Science on Smartphones

In collaboration with Rainier Beach High School, Southshore Middle School, Seattle Public Schools, and Microsoft TEALS, our class is designed to teach students app programming. By using Windows Phones and the Windows Phone SDK students learn how to create apps for a phone with TouchDevelop. There are no separate PCs in this course. Students develop scripts to perform various tasks similar to regular apps. Students use TouchDevelop to install, run, edit, and publish scripts.

Jamie Ewing, Mount View Elementary (Seattle)

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

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.

Caleb Gentry, Sequim Middle School (Sequim)

Project: 3D Game Design with Kodu

Using Microsoft Kodu to enable 3D video game design with middle school students has created an increased interest in game design and programming, especially in girls. Combining scientific information (e.g., types of volcanoes) and through their use of design and programming skills they create a STEM-themed game they can showcase while generating interest in computer programming.

Jac de Haan, Westside School (Seattle)

Project: BATTLESHIP!: Excel Edition

In looking for a way to introduce the power and flexibility of Microsoft Excel, its important to recognize that students enter 6th grade with a variety of personal & academic technology experiences. Battleship: Excel Edition is a collaborative & creative opportunity for students to play while learning to manipulate cells & data – engaging critical thinking, logic, and strategy. In the process of building & playing a two-player game, students: build a common vocabulary of Excel components & functions coach each other towards skill development troubleshoot formula & reference errors in small teams gain experience with data entry & coordinates engage mathematical concept of if/then statements design & apply their own enhancements to a basic structure By turning a spreadsheet into a game, we open creative possibilities for exploration beyond numbers & data, and engage even a seasoned Excel user. Students work together to ensure that everyone has the skills required to enjoy friendly competition.

Julie Hembree, AG Bell Elementary (Kirkland)

Project: Kid Lit Movies: Book Trailers for Young Readers

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.

Robin Lowell & Sherry Hahn, Washington State School for the Blind (Vancouver)

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

Our project addresses the underserved population of Blind and Visually Impaired (BVI) K-12 mathematics students. The vast majority of BVI students struggle in mathematics because traditional methods used in mainstream education are ineffective due to their unique accessibility needs. At the Washington State School for the Blind, we developed an accessible virtual classroom built on Microsoft technology that addresses this problem. Using Microsoft Lync video conferencing, a qualified math teacher instructs her class in an online meeting accessible to any student with an internet connection, as well as our residential students in a physical classroom. The examples she creates on the Lync whiteboard are transmitted to the students Assistive Technology devices called Braille Displays, which allows them to see the work. Accessibility features built into Windows and Lync enables student and teacher to easily transfer files, instant message, and share desktops and programs for 1:1 instruction.

Lindsey Own, The Evergreen School (Shoreline)

Project: Data-Driven Service Learning

Applying data analysis to advocate for community problem-solving is a crucial 21st century science skill. In this project, 7th grade students collected three sets of data for three separate, but key, issues to our immediate school community and used Microsoft Excel to analyze them for presentation to applicable audiences. One data set came from pre- and post-tests for a 2nd grade unit on positive friendships. A second set was collected by the 7th graders themselves for a school-wide waste audit, identifying gaps in our recycling and compost sorting program. Finally, particularly high-risk data was collected from a 4th-through-8th-grade survey on experiences with bullying at school. The students used COUNTIF and other Excel functions, then exported graphs identifying patterns in the data. In small groups, they then presented relevant patterns along with recommendations to the 2nd grade teachers and counselor, the faculty, the parent association, and the whole school.

Kathy Wright, Eastlake High School (Sammamish)

Project: .Net Gadgeteer – Controlling the Flow

Using the .Net Gadgeteer modules and Microsoft’s C# programming language, students learn and practice critical thinking skills to create a solution to a real-world engineering problem: how to safely manage traffic flow through a busy high school parking lot. Students research and identify situations where colored lights are used to stop and start traffic such as crosswalks, bridge toll booths, air fields and road ramps for merging cars. Students select an engineering focus (traffic entry/exit speed, improving pedestrian safety or reducing the carbon footprint of stopped idling engines) and build a working model using the Gadgeteer LED modules. Students have had no prior programming experience or use of the Gadgeteer modules.

Rob Bayuk is the program director of the Microsoft U.S. Partners in Learning Team. This article originally appeared at the TeachTec blog.

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