A teacher from the Covington School in the Birmingham School District will be in Washington, D.C. next week for a global competition on school technology programs sponsored by Microsoft Corp.
The Innovative Education Forum is part of Partners In Learning, to be held in Washington Nov. 7-11.
Overall, the IEF is an event recognizing innovative teachers and school leaders who creatively and effectively use technology in their curriculum to help improve the way kids learn while increasing student success.
Out of the thousands that applied, 100 educators from 25 states were selected for a spot to compete on Microsoft’s corporate campus in Redmond, with 11 finalists competing in the final Partners in Learning Global Forum next week.
Judges for the event include fellow teachers, superintendents, Microsoft education specialists and more. A list of the judges is at this link.
Pauline Roberts, a 10-year veteran of the Covington School, said the program being displayed to Microsoft is Engage, a 5-year-old program that combines science, mathematics and engineering with real-world projects.
“We are trying to keep pace with what our kids need, the real-world skills they need to be successful when they graduate,” Roberts said. “The overarching goal is to engage them in problem-based, budget-based activities. the key element we are trying to communicate to the kids is the need for inventive thinking, effective communication and high productivity.”
The school conducts four projects a year. This year the school year kicked off with a project where students in grades 3-8 organizes into groups of four and built towers. “The children investigated towers, what sort of shapes and structures can sustain weight, the pressures and forces that act upon them,” Roberts said. “Then they experiment with different materials and different structure shapes, then they build towers. It culminates with a challenge to see which structure can hold the most weight.”
Roberts stressed that while she would be making a solo presentation, she’s representing more than 60 teachers and more than 600 students at the school.
Roberts, originally from the United Kingdom, has a teaching degree from Liverpool University. She came to the United States on a Fulbright exchange program at Cranbrook’s elementary school “and really really enjoyed the experience … it took me five years to get a green card to come back, so here I am.”
Roberts said the national Microsoft program consisted of interviews with judges and a project demonstration. “And we get to go around and look at each other’s projects which is just awesome in terms of professional development,” Roberts said.
More about the Partners in Learning IEF competition at www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2011/aug11/08-01IEF11PR.mspx.