Archive for the ‘education’ Category

How do you begin to talk about shifts in classroom practice / pedagogy with colleagues? As you plan to share professional development how do you start? You want those attending to be excited to learn, as facilitators we want to be positive, upbeat and enthusiastic, yet many times we start with statistics which point to all that is wrong, we know the world is flat, and we are in danger of being outsourced. So how can we approach the conversation to build interest and excite people into action? I started to think about how to frame the conversations differently and I found this TED prize winner, Cameron Sinclair who in 2006 began the Open Architecture Network, he sponsors a yearly challenge for teams of teachers, students, architectures and designers to work together to design classrooms of the future. As I watched the video I thought why not use the analogy of physical building redesign –  to the redesign of teaching and learning practices?  How can we design a better learning environments – visioning better classrooms. What new learning spaces do you envision, both in physical structure as well as the what and how of learning? Enjoy the video which I am attempting to embed below, if it doesn’t work click here to watch.

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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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In this 18 minute clip, JJ Abrams, (creator of LOST), speaks of inspiration, imagination and his belief in mystery as a catalyst for imagination, infinite possibility, hope and potential. When he writes he sees a blank page waiting to be filled with something fantastic. He believes whatever he writes needs to be worthy of the technology he is using. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our students to looked at writing in this way, writing as an expression of infinite possibility? Take a few minutes and enjoy watching this, I did.

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