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Celebrating Teachers -- The Microsoft Innovative Education Forum

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You have to look hard to find good news about teachers right now, but amid all the criticism, budget cuts, and pink slips there is a shining light celebrating, inspiring, and supporting the important work being done by teachers around the United States. Microsoft Partners in Learning is selecting teachers to showcase their work at the 2011 Innovative Education Forum to be held July 28-29 at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash.

My first experience with the IEF was in the summer of 2010 when my collaborative partner, Rawya Shatila from Beirut, Lebanon, and I were selected to attend the U.S. forum in Washington, D.C. (A Celebration of Learning and Culture). We were fortunate enough to win the event and found ourselves at the World-Wide Forum in Cape Town, South Africa (WWIEF video). There are no words to explain how life changing those two events were for me and for my teaching. I have grown in so many ways, both personally and professionally. I have friends and connections around the country as well as around the world. I am teaching my young students in ways I would never have considered. There are opportunities I did not realize existed for both myself and my kids!

The first round applicant selections for the 2011 event were released today and I feel so fortunate that I have once again been selected to attend the forum. My project this year is especially important to me as it represents the results of putting into practice the learning that came directly from my experiences at the forum events last year. Through the professional development opportunities at the forums, networking with other innovative educators around the world, and connections to the Partners in Learning, Shout, ePals, and Interrobang websites (all sponsored by Microsoft) I have learned to allow my students to find the answers to questions about real world problems, shared the teaching stage with experts from outside the classroom, encouraged creativity in sharing learning with the world, and empowered my students to have a voice .

Best of all, the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum is about sharing and collaborating. Two more teachers from my school will be joining me at the forum this year. It is not too late to apply! The second round applications are due by May 15. I would strongly encourage any educator that is using technology in his or her classroom to apply. There is nothing to lose and amazing rewards to gain if you are accepted. Check out this link to the application and to find out more about the event.

Teachers work hard and give so much to children, it is refreshing to be celebrated and respected! Thank you, Microsoft!