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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dean Shareski's Flat Classroom Keynote and an Update





Sometimes people come through for you in such an incredible, amazing way, you just want to cry!

Dean Shareski's Flat Classroom Keynote Rocks!

Dean Shareski has just "delivered" our keynote address for the Flat Classroom project.

For those of you who are following the project, you know that we've remixed the project working to get students to incorporate the six senses of the conceptual age as outlined in Dan Pink's Book, A Whole New Mind.

(Julie and I lovingly call this project "A Whole New Flat Classroom project" for truly it is a mashup of A whole New Mind and Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat with a whole lot of Wikinomics thrown in there.)

How do we engage the right brain?

How do we get students to design, to innovate, to create when they are so used to mind numbing worksheets and regurgitation of facts on tests?

It is very hard.

At first it is like pushing a big bus up hill. Afraid at any moment, the bus is going to roll back on you and crush you. However, when you get that bus to the top of the hill and it starts rolling, there is no passing it... it is gone!

We're getting close to the crest of the hill, most of us teachers feel, as we talked about it in our weekly elluminate meeting this week. And it has been very very hard.

One hundred per cent participation, can it be done?

Part of why it is so hard is that it is a 100% participation project. In global collaborative projects, any student who doesn't contribute sticks out like a black dot in the middle of a white screen, and the kids in the other classes let the teachers know loudly. And it is getting to that 100% participation that is so very hard on the teacher.

Think about it, every thing else we do as a teacher, we can get buy with 20% (class "discussions), 40% (class projects), or even 70% participation (tests?). But this is a project that requires everyone to contribute, everyone to participate.

There are no desks to hide behind when your classroom has no desks... only wiki tabs, blogs, and social networks.

How hard is that? Seemingly insurmountable. However, when you can get that bus at the top of the hill and it starts moving and accelerating past the effort you've put into it. When it gains momentum, there is no feeling like it in the world.

I keep holding onto that feeling I had with Flat Classroom 2006 and Horizon Project 2007.

This project is more ambitious than anything we've done before and we have seven great teachers involved.

Overcoming Obstacles and Excuses

We have the Great Firewall of the Los Angeles Public School system as an obstacle (notice, I CAN e-mail the teacher in China... I have more problems with the US firewalls than that in CHINA!!!! It is so frustrating!)

We have our time zones, vacations, sickness, sports, homecomings, looming exams (in Australia) as obstacles. There are a thousand excuses of why this project cannot be done. And yet, each teacher is adjusting the expectations for their class and pushing towards 100% participation.

Dean Shareski, I believe is the tipping point for this project.

The only problem I'm going to have is when my students want to do green screen. We shoot the whole project with Webcams, Movie Maker, Audacity, and Quick Time Pro.

How to Facilitate More Flat Classrooms

Julie and I keep racking our brains... how could we take such a project to more classrooms in the world? How can we facilitate such projects? How can we take the template we create and have many other teachers take it and do their own? It's a little drop in a big bucket (but it is our class in the drop.) How How How?

How you can join

We have a great sounding board group of peer reviewers that are coming on board and we're very excited about what will happen during the second and third week of November with that. We even have a teacher who is going to look at peer review at the elementary level for Flat Classroom.

The New Volunteerism

The new volunteerism is all around us. It is helping one another and participating. It is our own R&D, as Dean was "playing with green screen" as he delivered this keynote.

Join in this project (we still need judges) or find another global collaborative project and participate. Be a part. You'll find that you and your classroom and school will become a better place as you connect with others.

What every educator should be doing


No, you cannot do it all. However, I believe that every teacher, every administrator, every librarian, every volunteer in education should pick at least one online project (or two) each semester in which to volunteer and work either as an individual or as a classroom. (It may be a class project, professional development project, webcast, anything.. it just needs to be global and it needs to be open as much as possible.) It is part of global awareness. It is a part of who we need to be.

WE are the collage... go ahead and paste your face up there.

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