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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Half a World Away and Still You're Near Me



The following video is from a student assigned to explain Thomas Friedman's first trend "Connecting the World Online" using the concept of "Play" (we called it the Fun Factor) from Dan Pink's book A Whole New Mind. (I'm going to use this video to introduce the terminology of Web 2.0 with my younger students!)

It is amazing how well this video DOES teach, but the kids had so much fun (as you can tell.) This video was created in a little over a week and uses the green screen techniques taught by Dean Shareski as a by product of his amazing keynote. (Actually, we used a $25 green sheet of chromakey plastic from ebay! Not perfect, but hey, it worked!)



Again, this project has accelerated my students far past what any of us seven teachers could do alone. It is not something any one of us teachers can get our arms around or really take credit for.

We are facilitators, the kids grow and learn like a moving, evolving organism of thought, excitement, and challenge. It is full of experiential learning, peer review, and learning by socialization.

When a project gets this large, there is no tight fisted control. We are involved any time there are issues (had an accidental wiki war yesterday but taught the kids how to handle it and it is a non -issue at this point.) But every issue is a teachable moment for all of us.

This sort of project is challenging, difficult, hard to imagine, and yet so incredibly rewarding. I believe that making connections is one of the most important things you as a teacher can do.

For example, although Dana Huff's wiki project with Reuven Werber in Israel has been taken down by the month long teacher's strike in Israel. Dana says:

What do we do when the best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley?

And what does it say about the project that the kids are still chatting through the discussion area of the wiki and friending each other on Facebook even though the project is on hiatus?

My response to her was this:

"The connections are so important and certainly take a life of their own. No project goes “as planned” and no project is perfect, however it is in the imperfection of humanity we can see the beauty of the connections… hybrid flowers if you will that would have never bloomed without cross pollinization. Thanks for sharing!"


What are you doing to connect?

What are you doing to bring your students near to a world that is half a world a way?

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