This morning several of my classes Skyped with Garth's students. Garth and I both spent time immediately after our Skypes talking about the positives and negatives of what just happen. While the Power Points my students presented were good, there was one tech issue and we also discussed student behavior.
Tech Issues: I uploaded my students' Power Points to GoogleDocs last night so that Garth could open and project the student's work while they Skyped. Of course, the one Power Point I wanted to use would not upload. After discovering it was a corrupt file, I quickly uploaded a different group's PowerPoint and we pressed on. Technology is not perfect! While Garth and I both saw this as a problem, it was a great learning experience. Problems arise in the classroom all the time, and it is how you deal with those issues that determines the effectiveness of the lesson. Our tech issue was inconvenient, but it did not ruin the lesson.
The Giant Eagle Standard: Last week one of my students, normally very passive, came into class very excited about something that happened to her the night before. She was at Giant Eagle with her mom and saw one of Garth's students in one of the isles. She walked up to this student and engaged her in conversation. I called Garth from the classroom and shared this story with him. Shortly after, the his student came into the room and shared the same story. These are two students from very different backgrounds, that would never have met if not for our Skype session, met each other outside of the classroom. Garth called it the Giant Eagle Standard. As teachers we need to create well rounded students that can collaborate and communicate with a variety of people. We inadvertently brought these two students together, as friends that felt comfortable enough to talk to each other in a setting outside of school!
I taped one session with iShowU so that I could watch it later. We both were concerned about student's body language. On my end, I prepared my students for our Skype session by talking about the fact that a room full of adults and students at a different school are going to be able to see and hear your behavior. We had a discussion about representing our school well and how Skype is almost like having a guest speaker in the room. With all the discussion and prep, the minute the camera turned on, and Garth's class appeared on the screen; my students turned into 12 year old kids. Kids rushed to get on camera, sat on desks and made signs for each other. While this definitely took away from the content that Garth and I want the students to share; it also turned school into something more. These students let their guard down, they did not sit in perfect rows with hands folded, listening to another presentation. They interacted, they should excitement about the lesson and they acted like they would outside of the classroom. Often we talk about changing the learning environment to better reflect our students' lives, Our Skype session accomplished this goal. Students wanted to engage with each other. They wanted to be seen and heard. They were creative; three students made a sign for one of Mr. Holman's students that we have talked to several times and has become somewhat of a celebrity in my building. These students are creating social networks with other students. They are interacting the way middle school children interact. I want to reflect on this with my students on Monday. I want to discuss how to leave a positive digital footprint. Meaning, how can we take the social networking skills they have learned from using sites like MySpace and FaceBook and translate it to the classroom. Most of these students do not understand the consequences of their actions via the internet because the majority of schools and parents do not discuss it. Students need direction in learning anything, whether it be world history, studying skills, or the internet.
The newness and social qualities of Skype are a lot for students to handle, but at the end of the day it is a positive experience. Several students commented that they would much rather listen to other students teach them, rather then always listening to me. An adult in my district that witnessed a Skype session commented that he enjoyed watching students interact not only with curriculum, but with each other. He went on to say that too often school becomes some separate thing and students do not attach it with their lives. During the Skype session students internalized school and it became part of them. Our students created synergy.
Today, I will be posting the first of several interviews with teachers in my building and from around Ohio.These podcasts, will range in topics from: classroom management, first year stories, integration of technology, special education issues and maybe even parent interviews.I hope you find them helpful.Our goal in the future will be to put these podcasts into Itunes for download as an RSS feed.
T.C. Messer (email: email@example.com ), is a Language Arts teacher here at Beachwood Middle School.It was my pleasure to sit down with her for 20 minutes and chat about her students and classroom.T.C. mentioned a few sites that are linked below as well as a few images from the wiki she discussed.
Yesterday I attended a workshop hosted by Teaching America History, Sounds of History grant program (which I have discussed before).The guest speaker was Marc Selverstone from theMiller Center of Public Affairs.He works with collecting, digitizing and sorting the secret recordings and other sounds from U.S. Presidents.Dr. Selverstone took us through the U.S. Civil Rights Movement using sounds from the people that were there; Presidents, generals, governors, senators, etc.
This was an amazing journey through a time in U.S. history that has always fascinated me.The information and sounds provided by Dr. Selverstone put a new perspective on several key events of the 1950s and 1960s.Listening to the “backdoor” dealings of important political figures made real the politicking that underlined the events of the Civil Rights Movement.It was amazing to listen to politicians, sometimes from different parties, talking very candidly about their personal feelings, give-and-take negotiations and how to resolve situations.
I highly recommend looking at the Miller Center for primary source recordings when teaching any American History, foreign and domestic policy.Not only do the recordings give insight into important events, but these recordings also humanize the Presidents.Often teachers and students loose sight of the fact that the Presidents are men, with feelings and aspirations.They have to balance so many variables and they do not get to “go home” after work.I would definitely pre-listen to all audio; these are adults and their language is not always appropriate for school!
This is a short clip of a 35 minute virtual presentation by Garth's students to my students in April 2010. The screen capturing software is called "IshowU" for a mac only. The clip lasts about 9 minutes. See Mike's blog on "Two become one" for more details.
Mike sent me a text two days ago at 7:50am. A student of his had just ran into the classroom to tell him something important. The story goes something like this. When I went to Giant Eagle with my mom, I saw "Sara" from the skype lesson with Beachwood . I went into the hall and found "Sara" She had a story as well. "When I walked to Giant Eagle with my family, this girl ran up and said I know you. You taught us the lesson on the Reformation using skype today." The story goes on...the families talked and the kids explained how much they liked the lesson. "Sara's" dad, according to Sara had a hard time understanding what was going on. What a small world
Giant Eagle may not be in our standards, but the opportunity to collaborate with each other allowed these two students, whom would have probably never met, to create a connection in the classroom and carry it into the "real world". The walls of the traditional classroom are truly being broken down.
The video below was created by Garth and I while participating in the Teaching America History: Sounds of History grant program sponsored by the ESC of Cuyahoga County and Cleveland State University’s Department of History. This 3 year program exposed to me to invaluable digital content for teaching history. One such source is the digital archive of the City Club of Cleveland. There are several other blog topics about the resources Garth and I have used because of the Sounds of History Program. Just click "sounds" in the categories to the left.
We were inspired to create this video after listening to several speeches by Carl Stokes, the first African-American mayor of a mayor of a major U.S. city, contained in the digital archives of the City Club of Cleveland. Garth and I discovered that racism within the political workings of Cleveland, at the time, pinned Mayor Stokes against the police and most other public officials of the time. Garth and I jumped on my motorcycle, Garth in the sidecar and headed to Glenville to re-trace the events that started the Glenville Riots. We found where the first casualties, Fred Evans and seven others, occurred. We spoke to several Glenville residents who remembered the riots and we were able to "live" Cleveland history. The film we created was meant to be an introduction to the Glenville Riots for students. A moving piece of media, the film is the catalyst to inspire students to become historical detectives and research the history of the Riots. The film has been on YouTube for almost 1 year, and we have had nearly 1,000 viewings and several comments. Collaboration meets digital media all thanks to the wonderful resources introduced to us from the Sounds of History Grant Program.
Technology, Entertainment, Design = TED.com . If you have not visited Ted.com, you have been missing a wealth of knowledge on modern and historical issues. I have been a listening for over three years. In fact, by using Itunes, you can RSS feed and never visit the website. Then just read the description, click and download the ones you want and forget the others. Ituens then downloads and you can put them on your ipod. Listen while you workout, walk, work on the computer or whatever you do as you listen to your Ipod. One of my personal favorites: Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools Kill Creativity? Give it a listen and then tell me what you think about his comments.
Friday some of Garth's students introduced the Renaissance and Reformation to my students via Skype. Garth's students created two short PowerPoint on Google Docs and walked my students through the "big picture" of these two moments in history. I was able to project the students' PowerPoint while projecting their images via Skype. All students enjoyed the experience AND they had the unique opportunity to teach each other, instead of listening to me. I digitally recorded the Skype session using a program called iShowU, and showed it to the rest of my classes throughout the day.
In a week, week and-a-half, my students will Skype back to Garth's students and discuss what they learned about specific parts of the Renaissance and Reformation. Students will work in small groups and explore unique topics; such as art & architecture, science & technology and early Protestant religions. Garth and I want to get to the point where we can let our students chat once week.
The biggest obstacle in all of this, our bell schedules do not line up. In the long run it will work out, because we figure students will only need ten or fifteen minutes to summarize things we have done in class throughout the week. My superintendent and communications director both came down to watch the Skype session and offer their full support of my technology endeavors. It was great, as a classroom teacher, to see my district leadership take a strong proactive role in something I am doing. The students are very excited by this new method of teaching/learning and were "glued" to the screen as Garth's students students presented what they knew.
The next step is to find other teachers and students that want to interact via Skype. The possibilities are endless. My students can teach lessons to younger students, high school students can go more in depth on subjects I do not have time to cover, college professors and museum curators can show my students artifacts or talk from dig sites all over the world. These are the voyages of a 21st century teacher, "to boldly go where no classroom has gone before!"
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