The first month of summer has been heavenly. We had family visit from England, we’ve been to the beach, hung out at the pool, even managed a trip to Disney! Now, however, it’s time to swap flip flops for heels, shorts for skirts and get my game face on. I’m heading out to Redmond, Seattle on Monday to attend Microsoft’s Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum.
For those of you who have not heard about the forum, Microsoft has invited 102 educators to Redmond from 25 states to showcase the innovative ways they are using technology in and beyond the classroom. The Partners in Learning US Forum is an annual event that connects and celebrates educators for the outstanding and innovative work they are doing with technology to creatively engage students. Educators compete for a chance to go on to represent the United States at Microsoft’s global forum this fall in Athens, Greece.
I am so fortunate to be attending for the second time with my teaching partner Rick Joseph to present “Doing Business in Birmingham”, a sustainability project imagined and created by our 54 students. Curiosity about sustainability in business led our students to organize their own research field trips to various businesses in Detroit. Travelling in small groups and driven by parent volunteers our students visited places such as Ford Field, the Fox theater, the Ford Sustainability lab, the Renaissance Center, and Detroit Mercy Hospital , eager to learn what they were doing to be sustainable. They compiled their collective knowledge to create Downtown Detroit, but learning about sustainability wasn’t enough. They wanted to do something with their knowledge, and turned their attention to the local downtown area. Armed with informational flyers and brochures they had created themselves they took to the streets of Birmingham and visited over 100 businesses to educate and inform the owners about sustainability. They recorded the trip with Photosynths and Cliplets and created an Honor Roll for businesses that provided evidence of sustainable practices through follow up calls and emails.
I’m revving up for the forum not so much to compete but to make sure that I effectively represent my students and the wonderful work that they do. Their insatiable curiosity led them to wonder how sustainable other business communities are and the final page of their wiki includes all of their resources and an invitation to other students and teachers to replicate their project. I’m psyched to attend the forum to share their invitation and if I can get at least one other educator to give it a try I will have done them justice. I’m also eager to learn about the other amazing learning opportunities taking place around the country and the possibility of making connections with other classrooms for my students to collaborate with in the future.
I wish you could all kick off your flip flops and join me for this incredible celebration, for a celebration is what it truly is: A celebration of teachers and students working and learning together. Fortunately you can still get involved by following the event on Twitter #PiLUS, or the Partners in Learning Facebook page, by reading about the projects on TeachTec Blog , or better still, by joining the conversation and sharing your own innovative practices on the Partners in Learning Network, one of the world’s largest global professional networks for educators. I know its still summer but get revved up, get ready to learn, get involved!