2011 U.S. Innnovative Education Forum Finalists Are In! (Updated)

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This year’s first round of 2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum Finalists are a diverse group of talented educators. These educator have put forth their innovative classroom strategies for engaging students with relevance, rigor, and remixing education.

Students are learning about our world, our environment, and how to impact positive change through citizenship and service projects with Interrobang. A new generation of business and social entrepreneurs are getting real-world experience through developing XBOX 360 titles to running a business and learning financial literacy. While other students study our history and culture through art and visual storytelling. This is amazing work that provides evidence of what is possible in a 21st Century learning environment.

Yes, these teachers employ a variety of technology to make learning relevant and to remix student perspectives with pedagogy. However, it is the rich connection between a great teacher and a group of knowledge creating students that create the spark and rigor that make these projects meaningful.  Each project is unique and differentiated by grade level, knowledge domain, type of school, and region of the country.  Take a look at what this year’s innovative educators are doing below.

IEF Round One Finalists

Tasha Candela Clair Shores, MI: Lake Shore High School
Project: Electronic Portfolios: The Weebly Wonders of the Web The purpose of this project to transform traditional paper portfolios into electronic portfolios by using digital cameras, flash drives, a video camera, headsets, and scanners. Students learn about career opportunities and career interest, gain greater knowledge of technology, and create a portfolio that will be useful in their career. Project address current problems for students with written portfolios: employer doesn’t have long term access and not environmentally friendly.

Cheryl Arnett Craig, CO: Sunset Elementary School
Project: Making Learning Real-Giving Kids a Voice The objective of my project was to engage young children in meaningful learning by providing opportunities to explore real world topics while learning from a variety of people and resources. They were encouraged to create ways to share their learning with the world and to participate in service projects. The children learned that even at a young age they could make a difference and have a voice in the world and their own future.

Cheryl Arnett Deer project

Margaret Noble San Diego, CA: High Tech High, Medina Arts
Project: Illuminated Mathematics Our objectives were to use technology and creativity to highlight the diversity and pervasive nature of mathematics in our world as understood through theory, history, culture, art and practical applications. This project is designed with student choice and in depth research in mind. Students work on self-selected topics from a recommended list or pitch a new topic.

Colin Horak Tacoma, WA: Franklin Pierce High School
Project: Project Unite Developed and implemented a program in his high school to reduce immature behavior and promote unity. Teachers and students use Photo Story and PowerPoint to convey their message about unity and appropriate behavior.

project UNITE


Gwynn Moore Aurora, CO: Sixth Avenue Elementary
Project: Transformation to Digital Draftbooks Teachers can create an exciting and paperless writing environment using Digital Draftbooks, Online Graphic Organizers, Blogs, Wikis, and Digital Storytelling to give students authentic purposes and audiences with no pencil sharpener needed.

Doug Bergman Charleston, SC: Porter-Gaud School
Project: Entrepreneurship through Xbox Game & Simulation Development In this class the students are learning how to manage and work on a single large programming project as well as develop their own coding and problem solving skills. Though this a Computer Science course, this class has a second and equally important focus: Entrepreneurism. As we work our way through the NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) curriculum, students build and eventually present actual business plans for the game idea they choose. For the Computer Science part of the semester project, students consider an area in their life (a subject area they are passionate about, an extra-curricular area that they are passionate about, or an idea that helps makes the world a better place.) Then over the course of the semester, they take that idea and create a game or simulation for the XBOX that teaches, demonstrates, and generates interest in the area they have chosen.

Amy Jones Craig, CO: Sunset Elementary School
Project: The Kindergarten Restaurant In trying to engage children through inspiring and creative ways to prepare them for their future, we implemented a Storypath into our curriculum. As full day kindergarten teachers, we have the gift of time to integrate purposeful play into our day. Storypaths are an approach that originated in Scotland under an initiative to create integrative curriculum. With the belief that stories help us remember and make sense of our lives, the Storypath Approach believes that children learn best when they are active participants in their own learning.

Donna Pence Salt Lake City, UT: Beacon Heights Elementary
Project: Art, Bullying, and Videotapes Elementary students at every grade level create a video to entertain and teach the student body

art and bullying critter


Dr. Suzanne Banas Miami, FL: South Miami Middle Community
Project: Exploring Climate Change Using the Eyes in the Sky Using NEO (NASA Earth Observations) satellite images and NIH ImageJ to animate the images, students will explore various aspects of climate change. From the montage of images, students will write a report describing various areas of climate change.

Patricia King Purcellville, VA: Mountain View Elementary
Project: Graphic Novels to the Rescue! Taking a Visual Approach to Discover Details about Pre-Revolutionary Virginia Each student will create a graphic novel short story which highlights the VA Studies curriculum concept “Pre-Revolutionary Virginia” that will be included as part of a classroom graphic novel. This project will serve as a culminating activity for this extended curriculum topic.

Lynne Zalesak Houston, TX: Jackson Middle School
Project: Bringing US History into the Present: The Young Nation The students will create a presentation describing the major achievements and effects of one of the main areas of development of the Young Nation. They will present their project in the form of a Power Point, A Photo Story or by using Movie Maker, or another form of media presentation.

Carmela Curatola Knowles Horsham, PA: Hallowell Elementary School
Project: Ignite Innovation with Rock Out on Rocks Students will be able to recognize that natural resources, in some shape, form, and limited amount at any given time, can be found in their state or country. Using an online mapping program, students research and find information related to the earth science content area, rocks. Students learn the basics of how to research necessary information, using a digital organizer. From this, they publish their research into a Microsoft Word document and create a letter to their parents/guardians discussing what they learned about their favorite rock, chosen from a selection of six Pennsylvania rocks.

Karel Sloane-Boekbinde Chalmette, LA: C.F. Rowley alternative School
Project: Abstract Expression and the Science of Plant Cells Thirty students at C.F. Rowley Alternative in Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish recently participated in JPAS Cultural Crossroads’ residency “Abstract Expression and the Science of Plant Cells.” Using abstract expressionism, SMART boards, the work of Joan Mitchell and Microsoft PowerPoint students explored the Gulf oil disaster and its impact on our region’s environment.

Donna Hazen Mosquero, NM: Mosquero Municipal Schools
Project: Roundup Technology Roundup Technology under the direction of their teacher, Donna Hazen, is a 21st Century Entrepreneurial Program, that is an innovative, not-for-profit, project-based business “learning and earning” enterprise incorporated into the Mosquero Municipal Schools’ curriculum and course of study. Roundup Technology is a youth-operated, high-energy small-business. The business provides students with virtual, actual and realistic technology, workplace, and career clusters training while meeting required education standards and benchmarks.

Toni Rader and Nick Grzeda Leesburg, VA: Loudoun County High School
Project: InterroBang: To Inspire Creativity and Prepare Students for the Future Invite students to participate in real world learning that begins with a challenge (a question) that leads to discovery and ends with insight and surprise. Use students’ strengths to allow them to showcase their passions and expand their personal growth in ways that support any English curriculum and standards set for students of the 21st Century.

Kelli Etheridge Mobile, AL: St. Paul’s Episcopal School
Project: What’s the Verdict? The Count of Monte Cristo Murder Trial . In our study of the novel and the culminating trial, we examine the cause and effect of Dantès’ action and whether he can be held liable for the deaths, kidnappings, and loss of wealth of his enemies and their relations. Students are either given the role of attorney (for the prosecution or defense) or witness (a character from the novel who has knowledge of events that relate to the question of whether Dantès is guilty or innocent). When the trial is finished, every student writes a persuasive essay answering the following prompt: Were the punishments of Danglars, Villefort, and Fernand Mondego really God’s retribution or wholly the cause of Edmond Dantès?

Carrie Stuart Mobile, AL: St. Paul’s Episcopal School
Project: ¡Vive la cocina! Students will host their own cooking shows using Microsoft Photo Story to demonstrate how to prepare a Spanish or Latin-American-inspired dish, which they will prepare and share with the class.

Kristen L. Drake Doraville, GA: Hightower Elementary School
Project: Worksheetless Classroom Students utilize technology for instruction, practice, and assessment instead of relying on worksheets.

Nathan Manderfeld Bermuda, CA: Monroe Elementary School
Project: iAM My students are in the process of creating a digital portfolio of their work. I want each of them to step out of my fifth grade classroom and proudly state, “iAM an architect, iAM an engineer, iAM an entrepreneur, iAM graphic designer, iAM an author, iAM a philanthropist, iAM a 21 century learner, and iAM more than a test score!” The “i” represents their use of 21st century skills and the “AM” represents what they are able to do; not just what they know.

Laurence Goldberg and Shalon Doctor Willow Grove, PA: Willow Hill Elementary School
Project: What would you do with a Hundred Dollars? Students will decide what they would do if they were given $100. Students will engage in discussions about money, resources and values, and will select the options of saving, spending, or giving their money away.

The official press release is here http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2011/apr11/04-25IEFPR.mspx

Learn more about the Microsoft technologies used by these great educators:

2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum


Microsoft PowerPoint 2010

Microsoft Photo Story 3

Microsoft Word 2010

Windows Live Movie Maker 2011