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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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Our OpenPD session this afternoon was designed to introduce blogging, my hope was the conversation would be beneficial for those in the class who are new to the concept and thinking about starting a blog of their own. Well once again my expectations were exceeded, and I am so grateful to all of those who participated today. Sue Waters was asked to join us and speak to those participating in class why she blogs, how she got started and if she would share any thoughts, and tip, for writing good posts. Well, Sue wrote a post about our OpenPD session, the topic for class, asking others contribute a comment on the impact their own blogging has had on them, their learning. It is full of interesting stories and suggestions, please take some time to read it. Sue also invited some other bloggers to join in the conversation as well; we were fortunate to have with us the following people:

Thank you all for making another session of OpenPD so worthwhile, I learned a great deal once again. I am grateful for the true sense of collaboration, and sharing everyone brings with them to class, what we are able to learn from one another is phenomenal. This is a wonderful experience for me. Sue thank you for all of your wonderful contributions to this class as well as your work in the edublogger world. On the wiki we do have an assignment for this coming week, look at and respond to 4 other blogs we have some listed on the participants page as well. Also to set up a blog at Edublogs so you are ready to start. Hope to see you all again next week.

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The new administrators are settling into their positions in nicely. I have had a great deal of contact with all of them in the three weeks and I am happy to say I am optimistic with what I have seen and heard from them. One of the many committees in our district is our curriculum council; those looked upon as curriculum leaders in their buildings by grade level and content area. Our new administrators chair this council and we had our first meeting last Monday to give the members an idea of their vision and direction for the district. I lead two presentations with this group last year beginning the conversations of 21st century skills for students and teachers, learning in virtual environments, trying to nudge those in the room toward thinking of adding new tools into their classroom practice. Our meeting last week continued to emphasize those conversations. Meeting started with Karl Fisch’s “What If” which lead into a discussion of ISTE’s revised NETS for students. The group then participated in a World Café model discussion of the standards.

First course – Identify the four most important educational technology standards for students and indicate why you have selected them. Share your ideas and write them down on the paper on your table. One person from the original group stays at the table to share the thoughts behind the choices, everyone else moves.

Second Course – What are the two standards you would want your own children to demonstrate and why? Write them down. This time a different person stays at the table to share conversations of the choices.

Third Course – Which standard is the most challenging to teach students in our particular district and why?

The results from the third course are:
Standard 5 – Digital Citizenship
Standard 4 – Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making

They were also asked to take the NETS back to their buildings and find out from their colleagues if these standards are represented in their curriculum. I am awaiting the responses to this activity. We will compile all the information, the goal being to have faculty identify where these standards are, or are not present, then use the information as the basis for the work of this council. Unfortunately I am pretty sure they will not find representation in the curriculum which will be ok, because now that everyone is aware of the new NETS for students, pointing out the lack evidence in the curriculum will hopefully bring conversations of 21st century skills to the forefront. I know it is a round about way to get there, but I will take any help I can get.

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