Friday, November 20, 2009

KinderKids Draw

We are happy to be participating again in the KinderKidsDraw project. Participating schools this year are from Thailand, Spain, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, California, South Carolina, and there is even another school from Jacksonville!

Our K classes just finished their first Voicethread where they introduced themselves to their KinderKids partners. We used Pixie to draw self portraits and Voicethread to record our introductions.

Mrs. Yegelwel's class flew to Madrid, Spain using our imagination wings and google earth. Mrs. McAraw's class flew to Winnetka, California. Once there we "met" our KinderKids friends by listening to their Voicethreads and leaving comments.

Here is our Voicethread-

Friday, November 13, 2009

"One-Click Mitzvah"- A Simple Thing

One Click Mitzvah
We've coined a new term- "one-click mitzvah." This refers to an easy way to use technology to give to others. There are many sites now set up to donate money based on a number of visits (or clicks) to the site.
All of our computers in the computer lab are set to "The Hunger Site" as the homepage. Students all know to "click to give" whenever they open the browser. Many of the students will take the extra time to click across the top navigation bar to go to all of the listed sites.
Sometimes I open the browser when showing something to students and forget to click to give. You can be sure the students ALWAYS remind me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seeds, Serendipity, Sustainability

It's the one constant in life, yes? And yet human nature seems to be such that many of us will cling to the old ways like a life raft in stormy waters. Why? I don't know. What I do know is that, my own issues with change aside, I have worked hard for change in schools. My twitter profile, until recently, read "wannabe change-agent." I changed that the other day, as I realize that I am no longer a wannabe. I am an agent of change.
Looking back, I realize that my school has changed. This is year 4 for me, and I am amazed at what is taking place. Are we firmly, solidly planted in 21st century, learner-centered, relevant education? No, not yet. Have we glimpsed the future and it is now? Yes.

I thought I would share my story in hopes of encouraging other wannabes out there. Keep
plugging away. Change does happen.

First, you plant the seeds. Do what you do. Talk to everyone about your ideas. Keep it upbeat. Don't expect people to get it. They won't. Keep learning. We are so lucky to have our online colleagues who do get it. Talk to them. Network, network, network. You need your network! You are planting seeds, and it will take time before you see growth. Keep planting and nurture whatever growth you see.

This is when things begin happening of their own volition. You can't control the winds of change, and you can't do it all on your own. As one person you can only do so much. Hopefully, at some point, change itself takes over and helps you find the support you need. The way this happened for me seems amazing, but maybe it's really not. Maybe it's what happens when you plant the seeds and let nature run its course.
My personal story of serendipity started with a chance (and extremely short) meeting two years ago at FETC. Because of that meeting, the PLN, and a person with vision and leadership, a new position was created at my school this year for a 21st Century Learning Specialist. The position was created specifically for Silvia Tolisano, not as an abstract concept, as in "let's hire a 21st century learning specialist."
This, in itself, seems unusual to me, but correct. People make all the difference. The position was much less important than the fact that we recognized Silvia's skills, experience, passion and visionary leadership as something good, something worth having, something worth trusting.

This is the chapter still to be written. Silvia's blog tagline "Langwitches -The Magic of Learning" says it all. She has worked magic, and she has done it by embedding PD into classroom teaching. Our students are engaged in global communications and other relevant, exciting learning, our school has a new website, teachers are blogging, we've implemented google apps for education. We have tasted the future, and there is no turning back.
My concern is that, while Silvia is truly an incredible teacher and we are extraordinarily lucky to have this time with her, I worry that we are putting all our eggs in her basket. Silvia is an agent of change, a support, someone to lead the way -- but the teachers MUST begin to develop their own PLNs, we must learn to be better at collaborating, sharing, supporting and teaching each other. That is the only way for these changes to be sustainable.