Union Catholic Teacher To Attend Education Forum

Kim Leegan

SCOTCH PLAINS – Union Catholic High School humanities teacher Kimberly Leegan has been selected to attend the 2011 Microsoft U.S. Innovative Education Forum (IEF) to be held from July 28-29on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash. Managed by Microsoft Partners in Learning, the IEFs are a series of regional events held globally celebrating the achievements of innovative K-12 teachers and school leaders improving education by creatively implementing technology in the curriculum.

Leegan, a resident of Fanwood, was one of only 102 finalists selected from applicants from across the country. Chosen by a panel made up of Microsoft Partners in Learning staff and external education leaders, the projects submitted by teachers are evaluated in their respective categories based on project collaboration, knowledge building, extended learning beyond the classroom, and the use of Microsoft technology to support the project. Winners from this regional event are invited to move onto the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum being held this year in Washington, D.C. in November.


Leegan entered the competition by submitting the “Adopt a Country” lesson which is used in her World Studies courses. With this lesson each student selects a country, conducts independent research about that country utilizing Word and One Note to chronicle their work in an electronic journal. The project also helps to familiarize the students on how to properly manage online research and source citation.

The project includes shorter research projects using Microsoft’s Encarta Encyclopedia and other online resources as well as two longer research projects, and a “Passport Project” in which students use Microsoft Publisher to create a pamphlet or book about their adopted countries discussing the country’s main cities, government, religion, food, music, language, geography and climate. When the booklets are completed, students share their information by taking a “virtual tour around the world” through the construction of exhibit booths complete presentation pieces and media displays that represent their countries. Fellow students “visit” each booth to learn about their classmates’ countries and projects.

“The school leaders selected to attend IEF are the best in the nation at incorporating technology into their classroom curricula to enhance each lesson and really break through with the students,” said Andrew Ko, senior director, US Partners in Learning, Microsoft. “It is inspiring to see these educators use technology to get students excited about learning and connected to the issues impacting their lives while developing the skills they need for a successful future.”

Students from the Honors World Studies class proudly display their passport books after successfully completing their “visits” during the classroom “Adopt a Country” exhibition. (Photos courtesy of Union Catholic High School)

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