By Emeka Aginam, who was in Cape Town, South Africa
With 5 African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, among others that made Africa proud in the semi-finals and Ghana flying the continent flag in the finals by wining Innovation in Community award category, Microsoft Partners in Learning has announced the winners of the 2010 Worldwide Innovative Teacher Awards at just the t concluded sixth annual Worldwide Innovative Education Forum held in Cape Town, South Africa
These awards were the global culmination of local and regional events held around the world throughout the year, where teachers present ideas on how technology can further educational transformation to help improve the way students learn.
During the capacity building event, 13 projects placed in this year’s competition, selected from more than 125 projects presented this week and 200,000 participants over the course of the year.
“The Innovative Teacher Awards exemplify the creativity and dedication of the world’s most forward-thinking educators,” Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Education for Microsoft Corp, said adding that, “I am inspired by the energy and unique approaches of the winning teachers”
They demonstrate the infinite possibilities that technology can create to improve learning opportunities and meet the needs of today’s generation of students. Microsoft remains committed to supporting the education community to advance both teaching and learning around the world. I’d like to extend warm congratulations to our winners and to everyone who participated in the regional events that led up to today’s celebration.”
The 2010 Worldwide Innovation Education Forum award ceremony, held last Friday in Cape Town, South Africa, was attended by 500 educators, school leaders, government officials and others from more than 60 countries.
With 5 Africa countries qualified for semi-finals, the celebration capped off a week of education seminars, visits to local Cape Town schools and the announcement of the start of a student-powered, environmental initiative called Shout formed by Microsoft, the Smithsonian Institution and TakingIT Global.
Participating teachers were judged by an international panel of education experts on a number of criteria. Through virtual classroom tours and interviews on site by judges, these teachers demonstrated a profound dedication to helping their students learn by leveraging effective and engaging technology resources for teaching critical 21st century skills, such as collaboration, critical thinking and social responsibility.
The Best Practice winners in the four main evaluation categories are Samuel Avornyo of Ghana, Innovation in Community; Martin Ryum and Mette Hauch of Denmark, Innovation in Collaboration; Pat Yongpradit of the U.S., Innovation in Content; and Tareq Mahjoub, Tareq Mahmoud, Shahzlan Al Saffar, Omar Ashour, Futooh Khareetah and Majdi Daoud of the Arabic region, Educators Choice.
The following are the top three finalists in each category, in finishing order:
Innovation in Community
•Best Practice: Samuel Avornyo (Ghana), “Rural Food Processing Industries”: Students were exposed to some of the food processing techniques used by local industries and then identified and shared ways these industries could maximize profit through quality packaging, developing marketing strategies for their products and keeping proper records using information and communication technology (ICT).
• First Runner-Up: Barry Corrigan (Northern Ireland): “Making Homework Count — Engaging Parents”: Designed to break the cycle of child and parent frustration over homework when assistance is not available, pupils were provided with additional tools to support their learning. Students could e-mail with teachers, access materials through an online source and contribute to discussion forums — all enabling learners to exchange ideas as well as develop the art of debate.
Second Runner-Up: Simone Timms (Australia): “It Takes a Community to Raise a Child”: This project created opportunities for busy families to engage in their children’s education through the sharing of knowledge. The teacher looked beyond obvious materials and resources to create a multitude of opportunities for students to develop assessment strategies in keeping with their learning styles.
Innovation in Collaboration
•Best Practice: Martin Ryum and Mette Hauch (Denmark), “Teachers Leave Them Kids Alone”: Expert groups of students engaged in peer-to-peer teaching and learning through producing, editing and analyzing a five-minute film in only one week. The film recognizes that some children are IT experts and can educate their peers and teachers.
•First Runner-Up: Jan Webb (U.K.), “Working in a Classroom Without Walls”: Students engaged with peers in Singapore on a healthy living project and had a virtual field trip with peers in Brunei to learn about the rainforest. The project presented an opportunity to work with a class from another country, share results from science experiments, present information and understand diversity in the world.
•Second Runner-Up (tie): Ian Fogarty (Canada), “Xenotransplant Debate”: Students learned complex thought through a semi-fictitious, bioethical issue debate. After researching a variety of stakeholder perspectives, deciding on a position and creating a political party with an associated media campaign, students engaged in a town hall debate and bill proposal.
•Second Runner-up (tie): Anna Karlsson (Sweden), “ICT Enriched Learning”: Students worked to design, construct and program a robot using technology and mathematics in a laboratory environment and were encouraged to bring an entrepreneurial and creative approach and attitude to their work.
Innovation in Content
•Best Practice: Pat Yongpradit (U.S.), “Game Programming with the Zune to Promote High School Women in Technology”: This project encouraged female students to engage in game programming. Using XNA Game Studio as software and the Zune as hardware provided students a comprehensive experience in game design and deployment that mirrors industry experiences.
•First Runner-Up: Adriana Silva de Oliveira (Brazil), “School on the Cloud”: Aimed at breaking down barriers between teachers and students, this programme made use of the internet in order to facilitate learning and make it more enjoyable for students of the “digital age.” Learning materials were made available online via the school blog so that students as well as parents could assess them after school hours and track learning tasks and projects through the year.
•Second Runner-Up: Peter de Lisle (South Africa), “Biodiversity”: This project involved using thinking and research tools to find out about biomes and involved the creation of a collaborative spreadsheet tool to evaluate the best biome to live in. Learners then used creativity tools to create a biome as a context for a computer game and to design a suitably adapted creature to live in it. Finally, they narrated an adventure in their biome.
•Best Practice: Tareq Mahjoub, Tareq Mahmoud, Shahzlan Al Saffar, Omar Ashour, Futooh Khareetah and Majdi Daoud (Arabic region), “Accepting Each other”: Created by a group of teachers, the project aims to answer the question: “We are all human beings. How can we accept each other despite our differences?” The project includes dramas, creating brochures and a press article, producing a documentary and a music concert, establishing a blog, and creating presentations.
Through this, students gain understanding of “tolerance, communication, dialogue, peaceful coexistence and acceptance of others.”
•First Runner-Up: Preesheila Bheem singh Ujoodha (Mauritius), “Wellness and Fitness for Life”: Students conducted research on causes and cures of the epidemic proportion of noncommunicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes and hypertension. They shared this information with peers in the community and through tools such as Glogster, auto collages, posters, video clips, brochures and blogs that they created.
• Second Runner-Up: Ricardo Espino González (Mexico), “Electronic Logbook”: Educator best practices and teaching methods are captured digitally and made available to others as a means of collaboration and to ensure that the years of experience of retired teachers are not lost to the academic world in the future.
“We are continually inspired by our students and love finding new ways to teach them the skills that will make them successful, positive contributors to the world and more open towards diversity and accepting of differences,” said this year’s Educator’s Choice award winners, Tareq Mahjoub, Tareq Mahmoud, Shahzlan Al Saffar, Omar Ashour, Futooh Khareetah and Majdi Daoud of the Arabic region. We’ve gained so much from this week, engaging with our peers and education leaders from all over the world. We are looking forward to next year’s event.”
Since 2003, the Partners in Learning award competition has been recognizing individuals with the Worldwide Innovative Education Awards for excellence in teaching. Teachers participate in country-level and regional events. Winners move up to the Worldwide competition.
The judging community includes education experts from all over the world. At the event, 47 judges representing more than 35 countries spend nearly 20 hours talking to the teachers and learning about their projects; then in a private room, they discuss, debate and share with one another until the winners are finally selected.
Next year’s Innovative Teacher Awards results will be announced at the 2011 Worldwide Innovation Education Forum, which will take place in Washington, D.C. Country and regional competitions will take place beginning in November 2010.
The Worldwide Innovative Education Forum is the signature program of Microsoft Partners in Learning to honor innovative teachers and schools, and to showcase how technology can further educational transformation by being appropriately incorporated into curricula, pedagogy and classrooms.
Partners in Learning is the 10-year, nearly $500 million commitment by Microsoft to transform education systems around the world. Since its inception in 2003, the Partners in Learning program has reached more than 196 million teachers and students in 114 countries.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.