Monthly Archives: September 2013

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Surveys Should Never Replace Clear Leadership

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Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) and WorldVuze

Hangout with Julia Colburn

So, a random twitter story….

A year or so ago, I saw something come across twitter asking a specific question about Global Education. I responded and soon found myself on a Skype call with some excited, young entrepreneurs at a Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) event in Canada. One of them was Julia Coburn. They were developing a platform to connect students and teachers in a way I hadn’t seen before.  Today Julia  and I met on Google Hangout to discuss the pilot and subsequent launch of their project: WorldVuze.

It combines global student inquiry, survey data, multiple perspectives, written responses, and data filtering to provide snapshots of ideas, perspectives and much more…all around the globe.

About WorldVuze

WorldVuze is an online education platform where students from elementary to secondary school can share and explore multiple perspectives on any question with other students around the world.

For every question asked, student perspectives can be clustered geographically and compared within and between places – city to city, region to region, country to country.

How it can be used
Their vision is that students locally and globally will gain a deeper understanding of their world and feel more invested in their learning by sharing and exploring multiple perspectives with each other.

As a teacher you can:

  • Immediately connect your students to perspectives of other students around the world
  • Ask questions related to your curriculum on behalf of your class to a global community of students
  • Access real, first-hand perspectives that your students can use for research projects, class discussions, statistical analysis, and more!
  • Understand how your students communicate, think, and interact in a global community

The Pilot

The pilot will be taking place starting January 2014 with over 25 schools, both secondary and elementary, from over 10 countries: Tanzania, Nepal, Paraguay, Mexico, United States, Canada, Malaysia, Kosovo, Switzerland, Sweden, and England.

Follow them on twitter @worldvuze They have cool things coming up!

WorldVuze Home Page

Connected Educator Month Book Club

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October is Connected Educator Month! The CE Book Club is a great way to get involved. This video by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach will give you everything you need to know about how to participate and connect to other educators.

Our Monthly Global PLN Chats…#2

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Sunday morning…8:00 am in Illinois, 9:00 am in New York and Massachusetts, 2:00 pm in Ireland, 9:00 pm in Taiwan and Malaysia…

Teachers meeting around the world, on one of the few times and days of the week that work for everyone because no one is teaching or sleeping at the time: Sundays.  We meet to share ideas, projects and stories. We meet in our homes or in our classrooms. We compare curriculum and obstacles. We share resources and support.

The world we live in is amazing.

Off and Running in a Technology Infused, Project-based Learning Classroom!

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Month one: hold on, here we go!

Camp! We returned from our three-day Outdoor Education trip in Wisconsin on Friday, so of course we started talking, writing and then blogging about Camp Timber-lee. Such enthusiasm and detail! Wow…sure pays to find something kids want to write about rather than forcing contrived prompts they don’t connect with.

We started our first Project-based Learning unit with Mrs. Parisi’s class in Long Island, The Denton DynamosUS Government: integrating reading, writing, history, and current events by studying some significant US laws. Students will trace laws back through time by reading and comparing electronic and paper sources. They are in teams of eight, four from the Dynamos and four from our class.  So far we’ve had two joint Skype lessons, and we begin collaborative research in Google Docs on Monday.

Today we meet the Wilderness Classroom team on Google Hangout before they head out on their journey. We will follow Amy Freeman and a team of geologists from UC Berkeley and MIT as they camp, canoe, hike, bike, and dogsled around the world to provide interactive classroom lessons. Here’s their itinerary.

  • Understand how the Slate Islands were formed.
    (September 2013) 
  • Explore the Boreal Forest by dogsled this winter and study a variety of topics including; weather, geology and erosion, watersheds, predator-prey relationships, wolves, the night sky, the physics of dogsledding, Ojibwa culture, Expedition ABC’s, and much more. (January – March 2014)
  • Explore the Amazon Rainforest. Join us as we follow in the footsteps of Theodore Roosevelt!
    (April – June 2014)

Then there is iEARN, (International Education and Resource Network )…where their motto is “Learning with the world, not just about it.” We will be joining a Learning Circle with classrooms around the world to engage and collaborate in the My Hero Project.

The 100 World Challenge! I’ve written about it before, so click the link for more information. The kids love this weekly challenge, and it really helps develop word choice.

Lastly math. Our district is currently in the process of adapting our math instruction to meet the Common Core Standards. The infusion of MangahighLearnZillion, and Khanacademy  have really helped with re-teaching while allowing me to get quick snapshots of who is getting it and who needs more support. This instant feedback is critical to my teaching as I reflect and adapt to meet the kids where they are. We’re taking our time to make sure the train isn’t going with no one on!

As I add tech tools to my students’ repertoire, I add them to our  Symbaloo page. They have access to this wherever they are. This site will grow and change as we go.

All in all, a great start to the year!

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I almost forgot! Our class song:)

Connected Educators Month. Is your district on board?

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13 more days! Is your district ready to take advantage of this opportunity?

It is difficult to have connected educators without connected districts.  The CEM District Toolkit is filled with everything a district needs to become connected and to support professional learning on every level, no matter where they are on the connectedness spectrum. It is easy to use…embedded with videos and suggestions.

“The Connected Educators initiative’s mission is to help educators thrive in a connected world. Such environments are envisioned in the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan and are soon to become the norm due to efforts such as ConnectED. Connected Educators pursues this mission through seeking to understand and promote educators learning and collaborating through online communities of practice and social networks.”

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Don’t miss out. Jump in!

You Can’t Have a World Class Education Without the World

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Bring the world into your classroom.

Do Not Open Until 2018!

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I came across a secret note in my classroom desk  from a student. She must have hidden it there at some point.  It was the typical style note you see in 5th grade, folded, stapled shut and written in red pen.  On the front it said:

Do Not Open Until May 2018!

Well, I did what any self-respecting adult would do; I opened it immediately. It had one simple line: Dear Mrs. Roman. Thank you. You have truly changed my life.  This got me thinking. Don’t we all change the lives of everyone we encounter? I can look back at seemingly insignificant interactions with people who totally changed the course of my life, sometimes in just a few words. “You’ll never go back to college. Once someone quits, they don’t go back,” from someone I only saw once when I was 19 years old in a group of us eating pizza at Joe’s Italian Foods in South Pasadena. I had quit school at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and moved to Los Angeles, every parent’s nightmare. Another time I recall was in a train station leaving on a trip with my then three-year-old daughter.  I was gripping her tiny hand and we were scurrying along in my usual hurried way when an older, gray-haired woman came up to me and kindly said, “That is an awfully quick pace for those little legs,” as she looked down and smiled at my daughter. As I sat on the 8-hour train ride, my anger at her rudeness in a matter that was none of her business melted away as I sat looking out the window at the blur of passing phone poles.

Scanning through interactions with people in my life that I can recall, some positive, some negative, most neutral, and surely millions gone from memory forever, I get the feeling that each one of those exchanges had the potential to impact my life or someone else’s in some way. Is it really important that we recognize each interaction that affects us or each time we have affected people we encounter? There are thousands of times this kind of thing happens in our weaving in and out of each other’s lives. Was it crucial that the guy in Joe’s know that he angered me enough to propel me back into college? And was it important that the woman in the train station realize that her comment pushed me to shift my way of being in the world in such a way that the quality of not only my life, but also the lives of my children, was significantly improved?

It would be nice to know those things, but in most cases we wont. That thought sure makes me see the every day in a different light.

dear

 

Reposted from a year ago.

International Dot Day is right Around the Corner!

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Make your mark! Based on Peter Reynolds children’s book, The Dot, this day celebrates creativity and collaboration. Each student starts with one dot and draws anything they want from there. Thousands of drawings are posted online for the kids around the world to see. It’s a fun and engaging way to encourage creativity and collaboration.
Here is a video reflection from last year’s Dot Day.

Blogging for Writing Instruction is Nothing short of Amazing!

Having read the dreaded “I am going to tell you about” 5-paragraph essay until my eyes glaze over and I fall into a comatose state, I have spent years scouring the earth for engaging approaches to writing. My quest has taken me to the promising lands of writing clubs, writer’s notebooks, and writer’s workshops, Four-square, and Six Traits, mystery bags, photo prompts, guided imagery, peer review, passed around team writing, speed writing, personal journals, and Morning Pages. Some were more engaging than others, but nothing too impressive…until….blogging.

So, why is blogging so cool? Here we go!

  • An authentic audience.
  • Revising! Without begging…and sometimes even student initiated.
  • Reading of each other’s writing…ON THEIR OWN! And making positive comments!
  • Full control over what gets published…without tons of paper piles.
  • Interactions between my students and 5 other schools around the world in Australia, Ireland, Taiwan, Canada, New York, Iowa, and The Netherlands
  • Writing…more writing than I could imagine….in every curricular area….long and short, formal and scientific, researched and  opinion, argument, informational, narrative…every single day…WITHOUT COMPLAINTS!
  • Creativity to make it more fun by adding visual appeal with pictures, drawings and designs.
  • Collaboration in all kinds of ways, and in all kinds of projects.
  • Interactions and questions and investigation, not only on their own work, but on other students’ work.
  • Possibilities of meaningful homework (although I haven’t used that much)
  • Even a student initiated, organized, and implemented disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

And I saved the best for last. There is a student that is so quiet…so inside of himself…that I didn’t hear his voice for almost a week after school started. He says almost nothing to anyone all day. When I read his writing the first time, I cried. Even now, months later, to see how perceptive, intelligent, and introspective he is…and to see how the other kids respond to him in writing, and to see how caring he is to other students….well, it is absolutely amazing. This was an opportunity for all us to see him in a different light. His classmates treat him differently now. They actually see him. They include him and invite him…and in response, he has opened up more to them.

That miracle was worth the whole ride itself, but to see the overall transformation of a process that I used to dread and now look forward to with great anticipation….that is amazing.

I use kidblog.org. Here are some step-by-step directions to set up student blogs, as well as some projects to start you out. Blogging in the Classroom