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7/17/2017 | TACOMA, Washington
"Once I was introduced to the Microsoft Office 365 suite I thought, 'Wow, these tools are incredible,' " says Sierra. As a former classroom teacher, she knew their potential impact.
"So many applications and possibilities," she added.
The Office Mix project at Baker turned into a showcase event. Students from other classes and school administrators came to the library to watch the eighth-graders talk about what they learned and show their Office Mix presentations.
"I was really impressed when the students presented their final project," said Sierra. "We heard some 'oohs and aahs' from teachers who knew how hard students worked to master their voiceovers and find information and videos from credible sources."
As an added bonus, students used the video software program Skype to talk with a curator in Israel at the world's first Holocaust museum, an event set up through the online Microsoft Educator's Community. Sierra learned about the resource as an MIE.
The Instructional Technology department introduced the MIE program to Tacoma Public Schools in the 2016-2017 school year to train technology leaders in each school.
A group of 64 teacher-librarians, classroom teachers and instructional coaches (teachers of other teachers) joined the program. They received monthly in-person trainings run by Kim Williams, Kristie Stanek and Emily Bannon from the Instructional Technology department. They also participated in online training by Microsoft.
"It was a huge commitment," said Williams, who heads the district's MIE training efforts.
Participants earned badges from Microsoft after completing courses. All together, MIEs from Tacoma Public Schools earned nearly 600 badges this year on topics including:
In the 2017-2018 school year, the MIE program will expand to include more training run by MIEs for other teachers at their schools. MIEs will focus on how technology such as the Microsoft Office 365 suite—which every student and staff member in the district has access to—helps students learn crucial communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity skills.
"Many of the jobs our students will hold don't yet exist," said Dave Davis, director of Instructional Technology. "It's our responsibility to teach them the skills they'll need to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing work world."
Wayne Greer, assistant principal at Baker Middle School, says that he's seen the MIE program help prepare students early for future careers.
"The MIE program provides students first-hand and hands-on experiences with technology that they probably would not otherwise get to experience until high school or college," he said. "Students are able to apply the skills to real-life career readiness."
Annette Hockman at Wilson High School wasn't sure what to expect from the MIE program when she signed up.
But she says becoming an MIE taught her a lot about how Microsoft applications can improve her own work and how she can help others.
"I feel like I have a better handle on how to present technology topics to my staff," Hockman said.
Some of the ways Hockman and others at Wilson use what she's learned:
Hockman hears positive feedback from teachers about learning Microsoft 365 tools and how technology can support—not replace or compete with—good teaching.
"They're always appreciative of the work," she said.
Williams said the ideal MIE candidate doesn't have to be a tech genius.
"I'm looking for someone who wants to be a leader in their school," she said. "I can teach you the technology."
The goal is to train MIEs in every school, who will help support both students and staff members.
MIEs aren't just learning the technology, Williams says. They're learning how to teach the technology.
Here's a description of some of the tools that Tacoma's Microsoft Innovative Educators learn to master:
Because it works on multiple devices, OneNote allows users to access content they've created from anywhere. Great for student group projects, teacher assignments and more.
Creates presentations or reports, and lets users combine text, videos, charts and other media
Extends the familiar PowerPoint experience to a web browser, where users can work with presentations directly on a website.
Offers text, voice and video communications.
Teachers can create surveys or quizzes, then analyze the results.
Tacoma Public Schools is the only district designated an Innovation Zone by Washington State. A leader in implementing innovative schools and programs to meet the diverse needs of every student, every day, TPS serves approximately 30,000 students from preschool to grade 12 and at nearly 5000 employees is one of the largest employers in Tacoma. Learn more...
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