Microsoft motivates innovative teachers

Two Indiana high-school teachers will travel to Brazil to showcase their innovative teaching practices
Two Indiana high-school teachers will travel to Brazil to showcase their innovative teaching practices

A tic-tac-toe game based on the Industrial Revolution that uses the principles of universal design to give students multiple ways of learning will be the U.S. representative in a worldwide competition that showcases effective teaching with technology.

The project’s creators, teachers Harriet Armstrong and Autumne Streeval of Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ind., took top honors at Microsoft’s U.S. Innovative Teachers Forum, held Aug. 17. Armstrong and Streeval will travel to Brazil in November to compete in the software giant’s Worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum.

“It is really an honor to have won the U.S. Forum,” said Streeval, who teaches social studies. “We are excited to go to Brazil to learn more about what is going on in education on a global scale. Teachers often struggle with similar challenges, even in very unique settings, but the Worldwide Forum will allow us to collaborate and tackle obstacles together.”

Armstrong, who teaches family and consumer science, added that she hopes to return from Brazil with more ideas and connections to other teachers.

“I see my students as needing a more global view of [the] world in which they live. It would be great to find ways to connect with students in other parts of the world,” she said.

Too often, teachers work in isolation, with few opportunities to show their projects to others and learn from their colleagues. That’s why it was especially beneficial for Armstrong, Streeval, and nearly 40 other educators to be able to demonstrate their projects before a panel of NASA scientists and educational technology experts earlier this month.

Microsoft’s Innovative Teachers program seeks to break through that isolation, while highlighting effective ed-tech teaching practices in the United States and abroad.

“We recognize that innovation is happening in classrooms every day and that teachers are equipping their students with the skills they need to be creative problem solvers and critical thinkers,” said Mary Cullinane director of U.S. Education for Microsoft. “We’re honored to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of these teachers, and we hope that they inspire others to take risks and raise the bar higher for what’s possible in classrooms across the nation.”