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Archive for May, 2008

HOPE

Throughout the year I have worked with Ms. Stubits, and her third grade class. We have done a variety of projects throughout the year, but I must say I believe the one we are working on now will probably be the one the children remember most. Ms. Stubits has been sharing a story with her students, a friend of hers has a daughter who had been diagnosed with cancer in 2006, her name is Lily Oetjen and the students have been writing letters to Lily and following her treatment through a blog her mother keeps on CaringBridge. CaringBridge provides free, personalized websites that support and connect loved ones during critical illness, treatment and recovery.

As part of their social studies curriculum the children study government, citizenship, economics, manufacturing, products, and advertising. As a culminating activity they have to make and sell a product, identify their market, estimate quantities they may be able to sell advertise and determine a goal.

This year the children as a class decided they would make bracelets, HOPE bracelets to be exact, and the money they make will be donated to CaringBridge in Lily’s name. For the past several weeks they have been making bracelets, writing persuasive advertisements to post around school for their sale to classmates and the school community. Ms. Stubits has been able to create an environment in her classroom for students to truly tie the unit of study into something tangible in their lives. The conversations surrounding citizenship, being a good citizen in their community as well as their classroom and school helped lead them to doing something for someone else. They have worked hard, are very excited about the sale, feel good about helping someone else their own age that has had some difficult issues to deal with in her young life. I commend Ms. Stubits for involving her students in an effort to make a difference and think outside the box in terms of connecting government and economics for 8 year olds into an experience I believe they will remember for a long time to come.

We hope to be able to have Lily meet this group of third graders through a Skype video chat, Lily lives in Nebraska too far for a field trip from Pennsylvania, but through the use of so many collaborative technologies available today we believe we can make it happen. Visit the links above leave a message for Lily.

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Since NECC of 2007, and during several other conferences throughout the year there have been conversations taking place about a need to move beyond the echo chamber. Many educators see the value of web 2.0 tools and the potential for use in their own learning/professional practice and also classroom practices. For many they may be the only individual where they work who understands these tools, uses them in their own practice, and they may feel they are alone in what they are trying to do to begin conversations regarding incorporating web 2.0 tools to change practice in their own communities. The questions has been asked how we move beyond the echo chamber, how we inform others, bring new voices into this conversation, share what we believe is changing in the world, the way we communicate, use information and why education has to change as well. What are the new tools, how do we use them to our advantage in our personal growth. How do we use them to move classroom practice from what it is now, to a more engaged environment that extends beyond classroom walls, how do we connect students and teachers around the globe to collaborate and learn together.

In early March of 2008 Dennis Richard, Superintendent Falmouth Schools in Falmouth, Massachusetts started a conversation on Professional Development 2.0, because of his experience here –

”While I was at ASCD 2008 in New Orleans in March 2008, I started a conversation with some ASCD Leadership Council members and my online network of educators about the need for educators familiar with Web 2.0 pedagogies to spread the word about how they are successfully using the new 21st Century technology to improve student learning. That conversation has continued until today, April 3, 2008. We have less than a month to pool our collective intelligence to help ASCD do a “bang up” job for its membership in Orlando in March 2009 on technology and engaging students in learning. See the home page of this wiki, Learning beyond Boundaries for more details”.

He blogged and sent messages through Twitter to those in his network to read a proposal he was formulating. He wanted to take what he had learned in the past year to the decision makers at ASCD, Association School Curriculum Developers.

“The idea is to use my leadership role with ASCD (explained on the wiki under “The Conversation”) to “propose” more visibility for the web 2.0 pedagogy proposals so they are given due consideration for their importance and uniqueness and eventually to do the same for the selected presentations. I think major professional associations like ASCD are ready to acknowledge the important and transformational role technology must now play in our schools. We can have a significant influence on the quality of their conversation if we shift out of our traditional circles and bring stories of how students every day are deeply engaged in learning by teachers who are using web 2.0 pedagogies”.

ascd

ASCD’s theme for 2009 is Learning Beyond Boundaries persistence paid off, 102 educators have signed on to be collaborators and this message now appears on the wiki:

“I can’t believe it, but I have great news! Kathleen Burke, Director of ASCD’s Annual Conference accepts our offer and wants us to work with ASCD to develop a 3 year plan! More to come in the following days”.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. Margaret Mead 10:45 A.M. EDT, 5.5.08

I am happy to be part of such a group of committed citizens and I look forward to working with everyone to develop and implement the three year plan with ASCD. Thanks Dennis, for pushing beyond the echo chamber.

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