West Australian teacher lauded for innovative use of technology in classroom

Microsoft has today announced that Athena Hain-Saunders, a science teacher from Newtown Moore High School in Bunbury, Western Australia, was awarded the first runner up in the Knowledge Building and Critical Thinking category at the 2011 Global Educator Awards, held in Washington DC, at the 2011 Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum.

Athena was lauded for her development of interactive and hands-on science programs for teaching students scientific research skills and using Microsoft Office to present and share the students’ research findings. Eighteen awards were presented to educators and their projects in six categories. The top three finalists in each category were recognised and received an Intel-powered classmate PC for their classroom.

To reach the finalist stage, Athena competed at national and regional events over the past year to qualify for the worldwide competition. Athena’s project, “Real Science Beyond the Classroom”, was selected from over 115 global projects, narrowed from 200,000 applicants, encouraged students to use their natural environment as a working laboratory. Students conducted research, monitoring and experimentation at varying locations in the local Bunbury environment including the bay, mangroves and wetlands. The project allowed students to be hands-on learners, working with professional scientists from W.A. universities and scientific organisations to learn about science, and collect meaningful data to support critical university research.

Microsoft Australia’s Academic Programs Manager Jane Mackarell said: “Australia has always been at the forefront of technology use in the classroom and it’s fantastic to see Athena being recognised as a global leader in the field. It is inspiring to see how she embraces technology in such a positive way to enrich the educational experiences of Australian students.”

Athena Hain-Saunders said: “It is an honour to come as first runner up against a group of such fantastic and inspirational teachers from around the world. I find the truly exciting part of using technology in the classroom is about making learning interactive and motivating my students. If they are excited and interested to learn – the results follow.”

Participants were judged by an international panel of 50 education experts on a number of criteria. Through virtual classroom tours and onsite interviews by judges, these teachers demonstrated innovative teaching practice, teaching their students critical 21st-century skills, such as collaboration, critical thinking and social responsibility through leveraging often the simplest of technologies.

More than 200 school leaders from the Partners in Learning for Schools program also attended the Global Forum. The award ceremony was attended by more than 700 teachers, school leaders and education leaders, as well as government officials from more than 70 countries.The 2012 Partners in Learning Global Forum will be in Athens, Greece, the first time the event will be held in the Central Europe region. Country and regional competitions for next year’s awards will take place beginning this month. Interested teachers should contact their local Microsoft office for more information or look online at http://www.microsoft.com/education/pil/partnersInLearning.aspx.

For full details of the projects and winners, please see: http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2011/nov11/11-10EdAwardsPR.mspx

About Partners in Learning: The Microsoft Partners in Learning Teachers Awards recognise innovation in classroom teaching using ICT across the government and non-government schools sector across Australia. It is part of Microsoft Australia’s Partners in Learning initiative, a global initiative that is dedicated to enabling access to technology, supporting leadership and building community in Australian schools. For more information, please see: www.microsoft.com.au/innovativeteacher

About Microsoft: Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential. For more information about Microsoft Australia please visit www.microsoft.com.au

For further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Georgina Bonner, Howorth Communications, 0430 756 469, [email protected]

More news and images from the event in Washington, D.C., are available in the Worldwide Public Sector Virtual Press Kit at: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/wwpublicsector/Default.aspx.

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