Thursday, September 21, 2006

Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum 2006 - Day One

Hello from Seattle. I'm here in for the 2006 United States Microsoft Innovative Teacher Forum. We had an incredible day connecting with other teachers from around the country and exploring parts of the Seattle area as learning teams. Erin Garvey and myself were selected as one of 27 learning teams that respresent 17 different states. We weren't really sure what to expect today when we gathered at the Microsoft Conference Center on the corporate campus.
We knew they would give us some sort of task but nothing more. We soon learned that this forum would not consist of sitting in a room and listening to speakers. We were introduced the Microsoft Partners in Learning program and the Expeditionary Learning concept from John Bransford. Each group set out for a different part of Seattle to explore. My group was sent to explore the Pike Street Market - it clicked for me when they said we were going to the place where the guys throw fish.
Each group was given some guidelines to investigate - culture, how the area has adapted to change over time and connections between community. We had a digital voice recorder and digital camera. We took a tour of the Pike Market that explained the history but also the social services provided and the workings of the market itself. It was incredible. I would strongly urge all visitors to take a tour of the market with a guide. We returned to the Microsoft campus to work on a group presentation that could last no longer than 10 minutes. We told our story of the market using PhotoStory 3 incorporating the digital pictures and audio from the digital recorder. I finished doing some final touches on the presentation tonight in the hotel room and am looking forward to a great day of sharing tomorrow on the final day of the forum.


  1. What a great project, Eric! Were the final projects posted or published anywhere? I think it is significant that as an example of "technology use best practice," in this example students (the teachers) were linking real world experiences to their own schema/brains via different technologies. I think sometimes "virtual experiences" are oversold to teachers and students, and what we need to focus more attention on is helping students of all ages connect to REAL people and experiences in their environment-- but use technology as an amplifier to document, reflect, and share about those interactions. I look forward to reading and hearing more about your participation in this event. Congrats for being selected, and as always thanks for sharing about your experiences.

  2. Wesley - Thanks for the comment. We only had about an hour to pull it together but I have posted a link to the 8 minute video my group produced on the September 25th post. I don't think it will win an Oscar but it was fun to create as a means to communicate what we experienced at the market.

  3. Anonymous11:04 AM

    One of my colleagues was in attendance, and she was very disappointed with
    a) the level of effort show by Microsoft,
    b) the lack of focus in the overall event
    c) the lack of strong content or process involved in an activity that seemed to have little thought behind it.

    She has signed up for an Apple workshop next month, and said it seems much more focussed and thought out.

    She said she was amazed that such a large company as Microsoft would not do a better job. Was it good, or is she right?

  4. Eric -- Noticed you mentioned Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB). One of my mentors in grad school a few years back was Meg Campbell, the woman who founded ELOB, and then went on to start her own urban high school in Boston that uses ELOB as its underlying vision. If you remain intrigued by the model, let me know. Happy to introduce you to Meg and her school, Codman Academy.
    And once again, congrats on being selected for the forum! Sounds like thoroughly enjoyed yourself out there. Cheers, Christian

  5. In response to the comment above from "anonymous" - I thought that the forum was good. Could some things have been done differently - sure. I had the opportunity to attend this event as well as the Microsoft Innovative World Forum in the summer of 2005. I can tell you that I gave some considerable feedback to Microsoft after the event in 2005 and the individuals that I have dealt with at Microsoft have made a considerable effort to listen to teachers and give them the tools they need to be more successful. In my opinion Microsoft is trying hard to be as responsive to teachers as possible. I'm sorry that your colleague did not have a more positive experience.