Category Archives: usa

“I am focused on each student’s growth. If each student can come away with knowledge that will enhance their personal or professional life, then we have both succeeded.” – Pamela Orbison, computer science teacher, USA

Pamela Orbison

Business, Finance, IT and Computer Science Teacher; Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert

Rowan Salisbury Schools in Salisbury, North Carolina, USA
Pam Orbison (@CLMS_CTE on Twitter

How one teacher manages testing pressure

“It seems that a score on a test determines the current educational measure of success.  I have had students in my class crying because they feel so much pressure to meet a certain standard (even on pre-tests). I realized that these scores have the potential to cause students to define themselves according to their score.… Visit the author's original post

Making technology work for every type of student – Josh Davis, USA

As an instructional technology coach, Josh Davis is not only among the first to try out new technology at his school, he also gets to experience the initial excitement from both teachers and students when they get to try something they’ve never seen before.

A 17-year veteran in his school district – 15 years as a middle school history teacher, two in his current role – he’s seen a lot of change. And school transformation is a big one.

His advice for a successful whole-school transformation plan?… Visit the author's original post

“Educational technology is now more about pedagogy first and then choosing the appropriate tool(s) for the job.” – Kathy Schrock, USA

As an independent educational technologist with more than 20 years in the field, Kathy Schrock has experienced first-hand how technology has transformed education — not only by engaging students, but by helping teachers manage their classrooms. Today, Schrock is helping fellow educators do the same.

When she isn’t teaching at Wilkes University, Schrock travels both nationally and internationally to conduct workshops and presentations that demonstrate how technology can support classroom instruction. She also blogs about her insights on Kathy Schrock’s Kaffeeklatsch, a platform that offers an “informal gathering place” for readers who want to learn the latest developments in education technology.… Visit the author's original post

“Technology allows us to teach students where they are.” – Alfred Thompson, USA

Alfred Thompson considers himself a “computer science education activist,” helping young people make the world a better place through software. 

A high school computer science teacher, Thompson got into teaching almost by accident. “I worked in the computer industry for a number of years before being laid off from my job,” he says. “A principal I knew asked me to be a last-minute replacement for an elementary school computer teacher who quit just before school started.”

Thompson figured he’d teach while he decided what to do next.… Visit the author's original post

“My biggest hope through these shifts in education is that students feel respected and empowered to pursue their passions and learn how to be lifelong learners.” – Wendy Loewenstein, USA

For Dr. Wendy Loewenstein, innovative education is all about giving students the freedom to learn in the way that suits them best. And as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainer who facilitated the MIE program for her entire district, she has a great many tools to do that.

Lowenstein is the new director of Omaha’s first K-8 virtual school, responsible for the curriculum, instruction and assessment of both staff and students. It’s an environment that should prove to be a perfect fit for her student-first educational approach.… Visit the author's original post

Pioneering project-based learning in Tennessee – Brent Thrasher, USA

Brent Thrasher first started to consider a career in education during high-school. A frequent volunteer to help his peers with homework, Thrasher was often complimented on his ability to reteach content. He found it very rewarding to help others and to share in their success. And like many educators we profile on Daily Edventures, Thrasher didn’t have to go far for inspiration.

“My Advanced Biology teacher, Mr. Pat Grimes, could be credited with planting the idea of becoming an educator in my mind,” says Grimes.… Visit the author's original post

From typist to Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert – MaryJo Slater, USA

Without a doubt, technology changes quickly. Just ask MaryJo Slater, who first took the technology plunge in 1989 and has never looked back.

“The Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) asked me to join them for a short term because the catalog was going to desktop publishing and the college needed the entire college catalog typed over using Word,” Slater tells us. “I agreed, and showed up to the campus. There was a computer on the desk. I asked what it was.… Visit the author's original post

“Effective instruction from a passionate and dedicated teacher is the single most critical factor in student success.” – Stepan Mekhitarian, USA

As immigrants fleeing war-torn Lebanon, Stepan Mekhitarian’s parents knew that education was the key to helping their son achieve his dreams – whatever they happened to be. After working in public accounting post-graduation, that belief in the power of education ultimately drew Mekihitarian to teaching.

“I came to the realization that it was education that had given me the opportunity to pursue my aspirations,” Mekhitarian says, “and I made a commitment to help others find the freedom to shape their destiny.”

Mekhitarian, who has both taught secondary school and served as a middle- and high-school administrator, now makes his contributions as a blended learning coordinator.… Visit the author's original post

“If everything in life is a game, then we need to choose the games we play carefully.” – Szymon Machajewski, USA

Szymon Machajewski has two passions: education and technology. By combining them both, he and his students are innovating together every day, both in person, and online.

“Teaching and learning today involve tools, which are online,” says Machajewski. “This is true for online and classroom courses. I use Twitter, YouTube, Blackboard, and other tools to create collaboration in engaging learning environments. Young professionals in most fields, not just the technology area, must adopt online tools to create personal learning networks and pursue learning throughout their careers.… Visit the author's original post

“Blended and flipped learning give students access to some of the best teaching, no matter where they live. Will that fix all the problems at at-risk campuses? No, but it’s a start in the right direction.” – Rachelle Wooten, USA

By definition, every Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert is a serious life-long learner, and MIE Expert Rachelle Wooten is no exception. But even though Wooten is certified to train on nearly every kind of educational technology and technology platform you can think of, she’s not impressed with technology for technology’s sake.

“I love how innovations in technology have made teaching more creative, dynamic and efficient — all while making learning experiences so engaging and authentic for students,” she says. “Ironically, I am not the kind of educator that gets excited and mesmerized by the latest technology gadget.… Visit the author's original post

“I learned to let go of control, and learn with and from my students, something I have become very passionate about.”– Steve Isaacs, USA

Educational innovation can take many forms, depending on who you ask. For Steve Isaccs, a middle school Video Game Design and Development teacher, the future of education is not only about using the right tools; it’s about HOW our classrooms work.

“Our educational system is in need of large-scale reform,” says Isaacs. “We continue to follow a model that relies on consumption of content with teachers lecturing in front of a group of students, typically in 40 minute blocks of time.… Visit the author's original post

“When technology becomes the ‘air and water’ we need in innovative instruction, and learning exists in a seamless and transparent way, then we know we’ve done well for our students. – Dr. Melanie Wiscount, USA

When you’ve been teaching for more than 30 years like Dr. Melanie Wiscount has, you have seen a lot of changes. For Wiscount, embracing the change is the only way forward.

“Since 2003, I have enthusiastically immersed my instruction and students into technology,” she says. “It is exciting how every year there are new tools, technologies, and trends which keep my instruction and my students’ learning and assessments in constant renewal.”

A Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIE), Wiscount is a proud collaborator and sharer of lessons learned.… Visit the author's original post

“My school’s efforts to integrate technology into instruction have led to significant increases in student achievement.” – Darren Clay, USA

Darren Clay learned early on the value of an education, when his assistant principal father did double duty as the school’s evening custodian – with his sons’ help — to pay for their private schooling. Ultimately following his dad’s career path, Clay has dedicated his own career to integrating technology into learning.

“After my third year of teaching,” Clay says, “I enrolled in an Aspiring Leaders program. The program selected the top 10 teachers in the district to work directly with a district cabinet member.… Visit the author's original post

“It’s not hard to start with OneNote – just jump in.” – Jeff Kash, USA

During last month’s Hack the Classroom event, we learned a lot about the latest trends in engaging students – including coding, Minecraft and making. But sometimes, transformation is less about teaching new things, and more about teaching in new ways.

That’s absolutely the case for Jeff Kash, one of our inspiring Hack the Classroom guest speakers. Kash’s big insight relates to something most of us think of as mundane: classroom organization.

After teaching World and U.S. History at Madison Middle School (near Los Angeles) for nearly 20 years, Kash keenly understands that lack of organization is all too often an obstacle to both learning and teaching.… Visit the author's original post

“Embrace your own inner fear. It’s the easiest way to get started.” – Hadi Partovi, USA

To celebrate five years of Daily Edventures, we’re sharing some of our favorite posts. This Daily Edventure was originally published on March 7, 2016.

If you have been following the conversation about students learning how to code, you’ve likely heard of Code.org.

When we first spoke with Code.org founder Hadi Partovi back in 2013, they were just launching Hour of Code, which, “…started with a simple vision that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science,” says Partovi.… Visit the author's original post

Maker Movement pioneer offers sage advice to creative educators – Dale Dougherty, USA

As part of last month’s Hack the Classroom event, we heard from some true education innovators who have hacked learning spaces around the world to provide students with transformational learning experiences.

One of the innovators we were fortunate enough to hear from was Dale Dougherty. Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine and a Maker Faire pioneer, shared some fascinating insights on why – and how – the global Maker Movement has become so successful, so quickly.

“The Maker Movement is a platform for creative expression for adults and kids…it’s the community coming out to show what they’re doing,” Dougherty told me.… Visit the author's original post

How Staffpad Takes Music Education to the Next Level – Guest Post by Andrew Fitzgerald, USA

Last week, it was time for me to teach my beginner groups about Key Signatures. Reading a key signature is a vital skill for any musician, so I want to make sure my students know and understand the concept well. However, not only do I want my students to have the skills necessary to analyze and decipher what they see in a key signature, I want them to understand the purpose. Why are key signatures so important? What effect do they have on the notes they read and the sounds they make with their instruments?… Visit the author's original post

Problem-based learning reinvents a high school – Tom Duenwald, USA

“We believe in all our students,” says Tom Duenwald, principal at Sammamish High School. “We want to be at the heart of what public education ought to be about. That doesn’t always show up on a data set or state accountability exam.”

Indeed, for Duenwald, a member of the Microsoft in Education Advisory Board, and his team at Sammamish High School, the focus is on ensuring his nearly 1000 students – which include the highest percentage of English language learners and special education students in its district – are not only prepared for the 21st century workplace, but will lead the way.… Visit the author's original post

A student’s concussion leads to cutting-edge diagnostic technology – Eric Solender, USA

Three years ago, when high school student Eric Solender was 14, he suffered a concussion playing basketball. “I was coming down for a rebound,” Eric says, “and another kid was jumping up, and his nose slammed me in the back of the head.”

The concussion was very serious, and Eric missed nearly a full year of school while he recuperated. “Thanks to the doctors at Children’s Hospital, I was able to recover from it,” he says. “Now I’m trying to help people that [are] in the position that I was in.”

That help comes in the form of a diagnostic tool that Eric coded and designed using Kinect.… Visit the author's original post

“Failing forward is a culture shift that we need in this world.” – Adam Bellow, USA

When Adam Bellow was growing up, he wanted to be Superman. When he grew older (and more realistic), he decided to find another way to change the world. So he became a teacher.

Bellow’s career in the classroom started as a high school English teacher. He has worked as a technology training specialist, Director of Educational Technology, and is now considered one of the education world’s leading speakers on educational technology.

His ultimate goal is helping teachers infuse their classroom lessons with technology that empowers students and enhances learning.… Visit the author's original post

Redefining innovation in small-town Texas – Rafranz Davis, USA

We often think that technology and innovation are one and the same. But for newly named Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Rafranz Davis, there’s an important distinction.

When we chatted with Davis, who was in Redmond for a meeting with education thought leaders on – you guessed it – innovation, she shared her unique perspective.

“I’m experiencing innovation at a pretty big scale in my school district,” she said, “because innovation isn’t just the latest and greatest, it’s whatever is pushing people to work at that next level, whatever the level is.… Visit the author's original post

“Why would you want to learn computer science? It’s so you can solve problems in other domains.” – Mark DeLoura, USA

Here at Daily Edventures, we’ve talked for years about the vast potential for gaming in the classroom. Games engage kids with activities they already love, and when used properly, have the ability to teach critical skills like computer science, skills that can turn into exciting and lucrative careers.

For Mark DeLoura, the connection between computer science and gaming is undeniably strong. A leading figure in the global video game industry, DeLoura has worked at some of the largest game companies in the world, including Sony and Nintendo, and served as Editor-in-Chief of Game Developer Magazine .… Visit the author's original post

Florida teacher reaches for the stars – Jason Mocherman, USA

The latest global economic downturn hit school budgets particularly hard: purchases were deferred, technology was delayed, and unfortunately, students often bore the brunt of it. At Sarasota, Florida’s Riverview High School, the recession seemed to be the end of the school’s beloved 1960s-era planetarium, which was not slated to be replaced when the school was being rebuilt.

But thanks to Jason Mocherman, not only did the planetarium survive, it came back bigger and better than ever. Featuring a digital projection system, dynamic lighting, surround-sound audio and planetarium-style seating, the science center is now the largest of its kind in a Florida public school.… Visit the author's original post

“Why cry when you can try?” – Nathan Lee, USA

Internships are meant to prepare students for the demands and challenges of the workforce. After talking to high school senior (and Microsoft intern) Nathan Lee, we’re learning that today’s interns not only bring a wealth of expertise to their jobs, they have tremendous self-awareness and focus.

Lee’s journey to becoming a Microsoft intern started when he took steps to overcome his shyness and discover his strengths. In eighth grade, he decided to dabble in drama.

“At first it was really awkward and terrifying, but I said ‘might as well go with it,’” Lee says.… Visit the author's original post

Computer science and middle schoolers: a perfect combination – Greg Mittleider, USA

When the Great Recession hit in 2008, Greg Mittleider – like so many Americans – had to take stock. Mittleider was working in the financial industry and after years of prosperity, his current position was looking bleak. There were job opportunities, but they were not convenient.

“Living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I found myself looking to positions in New York City,” Mittleider says. “This would not have been as scary had I been a lot younger, single, and in a better market.… Visit the author's original post

From corporation to classroom, a thoughtful leap – Eli Sheldon, USA

Here at Daily Edventures, we love telling stories of teachers who have taken a less-than-direct route to the classroom. Eli Sheldon is one of those educators.

As a member of the Microsoft project team, Sheldon worked to keep development efforts on track. Starting this fall, he’s taking his knowledge and experience to Seattle’s Excel Public Charter School to focus on the most important project of all – transforming teaching and learning.

“I spent four years at Microsoft on a project team, and had come from college and summer jobs around education,” Sheldon says.… Visit the author's original post

Flexible tools key to teaching success – Jonathan Wylie, USA

After incorporating technology in his own classrooms for the better part of a decade, Scotland native Jonathan Wylie was looking for an opportunity to broaden his horizons. So when the chance to help other educators discover the benefits of teaching with technology came along, he jumped at it.

In his current role, Wylie works with districts across Eastern Iowa to deliver whole staff professional development, small group trainings, 1-on-1 coaching, strategic planning advice, technical support and more. And he couldn’t be happier.… Visit the author's original post

Born to Explore: From Wall Street to Innovative Educator Expert – Tracey Wong, USA

We always ask our educator heroes who inspired them to become an educator. For most, former teachers or parents top the list. For Tracey Wong, inspiration came from a different place: Her daughter Jaslee.

“I used to work long hours on Wall Street,” Wong tells us. “When I would come home, I read the same book to her every night ever since she was a baby. One day I was tired and I didn’t feel like reading. I was just lying on the bed feeling totally drained.… Visit the author's original post

“Agency is incredibly important to my pedagogy; I want my writers to know that they have choices.” – Jane Wong, USA

Jane Wong has reached countless readers through her poetry, and has received many accolades – Fulbright and Kundiman Fellowships and inclusion in anthologies like Best American Poetry 2015 (Scribner) – to name just a few. But for this accomplished Asian-American writer, teaching has proven to be just as rewarding.

“As a teacher, I’m excited by the opportunity to help craft my students’ sense of agency,” Wong says. “Agency is incredibly important to my pedagogy; I want my writers to know that they have choices.… Visit the author's original post

“I’ve seen the impact that tutoring programs can have on a student’s success – especially struggling students.” – Chris Hopkins, USA

Chris Hopkins may be a program manager intern at Microsoft, working with engineers and organizing development projects, but education is his passion. Fortunately, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Through his internship, Hopkins is gaining the valuable skills he’ll need to make Boost Tutors, an organization he founded, a success.

What inspired Hopkins to focus his efforts on education? His time working at King’s Academy in Jordan (during his gap year between high school and college) played a big role.

“I didn’t teach, but I did things that made teaching possible,” Hopkins tells us.… Visit the author's original post