I was excited to be able to attend the Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 U.S. Forum last week in Redmond where 100 educators from 25 states showcased their innovative classroom projects to vie for a spot to compete at the Partners in Learning Global Forum later this year. The event is not just a competition, but a celebration of teachers who are making a difference in their local communities and helping their students prepare and expect more for their future. It’s also a great professional development opportunity as educators receive not only some technology training, but the opportunity to network, learn from and collaborate with like-minded peers who inspire others to scale change in education.

I was impressed with all of the U.S. projects I was able to see. It was great to see classroom projects tackling real-world problems like oil spills, unemployment, diabetes, disaster response, wildlife and more that help students build 21st century skills they’ll need for the workplace. The examples of creative uses of technology in learning represented the Pre-K–12 spectrum and included great ideas for blended learning, student video game design, professional development, flipped classrooms with students teaching their peers, and improving communications skills for those with autism and other special learning needs.

Check out the video below and my interviews with three teachers. Michael Braun teaches at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, and he’s using Touch Develop to get kids interested in computer science by teaching them how to develop mobile phone apps. You can learn more about his learning activity on the Partners in Learning Network here. Vince Interrante from Mineola Middle School (New York) and Robyn Hrivnatz from Lamar CISD (Texas) teamed up on a rocket bottle project that spanned more than 225 students at five schools on three continents! You can learn how they made this happen here.

The U.S. team will be sending 16 finalists to the Global Forum in Prague, Czech Republic on November 28-December 1. The 9th annual Partners in Learning Global Forum is the culmination of local and regional events that reach nearly 200,000 participants from over 115 countries. This year’s forum will gather 500 participants, including the most innovative global educators, school leaders, education leaders, and government officials.

For updates on the event and how to participate in the future, follow our #pilgf Twitter hash tag and our Facebook page.