Hayden elementary teacher selected for conference at Microsoft headquarters

Laura Voorhees uses technology including SMART boards and websites with her kindergartners

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Hayden Valley Elementary School teacher Laura Voorhees has been invited to attend Microsoft's U.S. Innovative Education Forum in Redmond, Wash. next month.

— Before they enter the first grade this fall, students who were in Laura Voorhees’ kindergarten class in Hayden last year will know how to blog, operate a Flip camera, participate in a video conference via Skype, and navigate the touch screen of a SMART board.

At Hayden Valley Elementary School, Voorhees has made technology an integral part of her lesson plan, and she regularly updates her class’ web page with photos, videos and collages.

“Even in the last two years, we’ve seen the technology we use in our classroom change dramatically,” Voorhees said. “As young as the students are, they’ve embraced their new tools, and it’s very exciting to watch.”

This year, her students narrated and produced a five-minute picture story on ocean animals, published a picture book online and chatted with students in Craig via a webcast.

And on July 28, Voorhees will travel to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., to showcase the digital photo story her students made.

“They loved using the new technology to make their project,” Voorhees said. “They know how to turn a SMART board on and off, and I can put a website up and they can navigate through it.”

Voorhees began using a SMART board, an interactive digital whiteboard, last year, and she is one of 100 teachers across the country invited to attend the U.S. Innovative Education Forum in Redmond that will showcase the innovative ways educators are using technology in the classroom.

At the forum, she will consult with other educators on how to improve lesson plans with technology and engage in hands-on projects using new Microsoft teaching technologies.

According to a Microsoft news release, teachers were evaluated to attend based on the learning philosophy and goals of their project submission, their use of technology, and their ability to demonstrate that students learned something from their project.

School Principal Rhonda Sweetser said Voorhees was selected because of her passion for using new technology in the classroom.

“She is a person that learns quickly, and she’s an incredible teacher,” Sweetser said. “When Laura gains new knowledge, she can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

An educator for 23 years, Sweetser said it has been exciting to see teachers begin using new classroom tools that were unheard of as recently as five years ago.

“It’s awesome to see them grow from when they were excited about using overhead projectors,” she said. “The SMART boards and things we have today are so much more advanced. They’ve expanded what we can offer to kids as far as being able to see videos and things in real time.”

Voorhees’ classroom project will be judged by Microsoft representatives and could be selected for display at the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Washington, D.C., in November. She will join four teachers from Moffat County who also have been invited to attend.

— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email ScottFranz@SteamboatToday.com

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