Microsoft Innovative Education Forum Tops 100 Educators

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Seventy-two teachers are second-round finalists for the upcoming Microsoft U.S. Innovative Education Forum (IEF) in Redmond, WA July 28-29, 2011.  The IEF is produced by Microsoft Partners in Learning as the definitive venue for educators to connect their classroom innovative practices in learning and technology with their peers across the nation. The second round finalists add to the 38 educators from the first round finalists that will be coming to Microsoft’s headquarters to showcase their approaches to learning and exchange ideas to remix education.

Effective teaching matters more than anything in our schools today. Even more, teachers are arguably the single most significant difference-maker in a child’s academic career. 

So imagine if a student you know had over 100 of the most innovative teachers for their entire learning career.

What kind of schools would we create for these students?

How much more ready and agile would they be for the world of work and life-long learning?

Well, if you ask Elsa Holm, third grade bilingual teacher and Erika Timmons, school counselor from Ginnings Elementary School in North Texas, they will show how students can reach beyond their borders to the world to learn about and experience careers that would not have been possible just a generation ago.


Mrs. Elsa Holm, Third Grade Teacher, Ginnings Elementary School

Using the Internet voice/video communications tool, Skype (Microsoft recently announced its intent to acquire Skype,) Holm’s third graders connect with professionals from Latin America to have an opportunity to both practice speaking Española while discovering careers and cultures beyond the United States.  Ms. Holm’s third graders are getting a big jump on learning international business before attending graduate school. 

Going global was just the beginning for this third grade class.  All of the students took on collaborative roles to produce a video project about various careers and professions.  The students formed teams to produce an interview script for their career mentors, another team of presenters to bridge all of the stories together, videography team, art and design team, editors, and production assistants.  Each student had a vital role to play in making their learning experience both engaging and successful.

Holm used a variety of educational technologies that are free and low-costs to make this accessible to teachers and students everywhere—especially in these tough financial times.  Moreover, Holm and Timmons provided the coaching and enablement for students to owned their learning and be an active participant in the process. 

Third grade is such a critical stage of learning and Holm’s bilingual students are getting meaningful, immersive experiences and building confidence that will prepare them well-beyond the grades ahead.  You can learn more at Elsa Holm’s blog.

Holms and Timmons will join 70 educators from Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia as second-round finalists for the US IEF.

Congratulations to all of the new finalists and I will see you in Redmond, WA.

Stay tuned to Higher Innovation for more stories as the IEF unfolds and be sure to review the links below.

Links from this article:

Ginnings Elementary School, Denton Independent School District, TX

Microsoft Education Newsroom

Microsoft US Innovative Education Forum

Microsoft Partners In Learning

Microsoft IEF Finalists-First Round

Microsoft to Acquire Skype

Skype in the Classroom

  • http://www.dentonisd.org Robert Bostic

    These are outstanding educators in Denton ISD. I applaud their work with students using Microsoft technology to make instruction truly innovative. Congratulations Elsa and Erika!