Friday, February 27, 2009

Help your students become citizens of the world

Ryan E. Smith wrote a great article for today's Toledo Blade: People help us become citizens of the world.

America is a weird place. If you don't notice, it's probably because you're too used to it. What you need for a new perspective is to speak with someone from another country.

And he ends the article with this: "becoming part of today's global society requires getting to know it personally."

Global and cultural awareness are important 21st century skills. How can our students possibly hope to develop these skills if they aren't foreign exchange students? Well, thanks to Skype and a lot of other Web 2.0 technologies, it's now a lot easier than it's ever been! In our county a fifth grade teacher organized a Global Explorers project with a school in Columbia. And there are countless other success stories.

An important first step for teachers is to become comfortable using Web 2.0 technologies. I'm happy to say that 39 teachers and administrators from around our county are currently involved in an online "23 things teachers should know about Web 2.0" class.

You can also download Skype for free, and experience real-time videoconferencing with your family and friends.

Here is the video Ryan shared on the Blade website. It features foreign exchange students sharing their impressions of the United States. I'm sure our students would experience culture shock of their own in other countries as well.

The last panel of this comic is profound!

Does the student in this strip sound like anyone you know? Frazz's observation is quite profound. In their desire to use technology in the classroom, very often teachers focus their energy on creating fact-based internet scavenger hunts (incorrectly called Webquests by many) without really thinking about the LEARNING that should be taking place.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do our students really have a voice?

Just ask Ty'Sheoma Bethea who was sitting beside First Lady Michelle Obama during President Obama's speech last night. About two weeks ago this young lady walked to the public library, sat down at a computer and typed out a heartfelt letter to Congress shown below in its original format!

The next day she gave the letter to her principal. The principal scanned it and emailed to South Carolina's representatives and the White House. (Now as an aside, do you know any principals who would NOT be able to do that by themselves?)

And the rest, as they say, is history!

The power of Web 2.0 is in giving a voice to those who have never before had a voice... like our students! I don't expect every student to get such a reaction and the notoriety as Ty'Sheoma did, but it COULD happen! And even if it doesn't, how wonderful for our students to feel like they matter to the President of the United States of America!

Read more about this remarkable story on the Chicago Tribune website.

And a special thank you to Keisa Williams, another valuable member of my Twitter network, for the links used in this post.


This game is addicting!

I follow a lot of great blogs in my Bloglines account. Today, on his Whiteboard Blog, Danny Nicholson shared a site called Physics Games that has a lot of fun games that can be played on a SMARTboard. I found this one, Bubble Quod, to be quite addicting! The object of the game is to escape by finding a sharp, pointy thing that will pop the bubble you are trapped in.

Playing a game may seem superfluous or silly, but they offer a great way to engage students in thinking about the laws of Physics and motion as they plan their strategy for beating each level.

Best of all, each game can be "embedded" in your own teacher web page!

My Twitter Network

You know how Verizon wireless proudly proclaims their network is behind you? Well, I've got my own network behind me, providing me with answers, questions, links, laughs, and random thoughts 24/7/365. My Twitter network:

Get your twitter mosaic here.