Mabry Middle School: How a school created their own Oscars and everybody got the award of better learning.

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What a great session I had with Dr. Tim Tyson!

He is a middle school principal at Mabry Middle School. Sharon Peters and I interviewed him after the session. Here are a couple of points from the podcast.
  • He has a blogging experience set up with schools in Japan.
  • To set up his projects, he works with other schools and finds them directly. (Flat classroom! Yet another reason principals should blog -- opportunity for students!)
  • They use carts of computers and has more demand than resources.
  • He discusses the amazing impact on learning. He sees a lot of pride now.
  • He says that the research is showing that the difference between "stand and deliver" teaching and project based learning is that students remember the information for a much longer period of time.
  • They have an Oscars program.
  • He has a one day training for parents, students, and teachers. Didn't just train teachers because when students are trained too, teachers can focus on content "not just what button to push" the kids know that!sh
  • (They are kicking off this year's project in two weeks -- if you're in Atlanta, you should contact him to see if you could go!)
As I heard him speak I couldn't help but thinking, "You reap what you sow." He set up their website. When they cut technology administration he took a hands on role in that. He is connected to his students because he has moved outside his comfort zone into their world.

Throughout his session my students back in Camilla were skyping me about questions and their classwork. It connects me. I am closer to them. I am their teacher circled around the virtual tree all of the time. It is rewarding to see their excitement and enthusiasm (and the fact that I could coach them through the problem and prevent substitute-induced procrastination!)

The Awards won by Mabry Middle:

"This is the first and only Level 6 Technology Implementation I've seen in the country. This is the highest level of educational technology integration in the nation."
--Dr. Moersch, principal investigator and creator of the internationally-recognized LoTi (Level of Technology Implementation) Project, and Director and Co-Founder of the National Business Education Alliance

"A national treasure"
--Leslie Connery, Deputy CEO and Conference Chair for ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education)

"This is as good as anything I've ever seen."
--Patrice Weaver, Operations Manager for GPB (Georgia Public Broadcasting)

"The Pied Piper of Educational Technology"
--Kathy Ishizuka, The School Library Journal

Schools of Distinction Award for Technology Innovation
Scholastic and Intel Corporation
I asked if he was presenting at NECC. He has never been and did not submit to present. He is the type of person that should be RECRUITED to speak. Administrators need to meet this man. It is essential and vital!

My notes from the session

Here are my notes from this great session with Dr. Tyson. (In original form): & itunes – Over 1.5 million files served up a month

He has had contacts from New Delhi, Tasmania, Beijing, Perth, Hong Kong, Republic of Georgia, Canada – They have seen his kids work on the Internet and come to see what they are doing!

The concept of childhood is rather new. We underestimate our children because of childhood.

What is on their minds?
He asked "What do you want to say on the Internet?
They did a movie on human embryonic stem cell research – 7th graders. They landed an interview with Dr. Chatea – two hours in the lab. She presented to them the presentations that she does internationally. They produced an amazing video! (Videos located at

They shot hours of footage and have to cut down to 2 minutes long. They have to come down and the process to do that was amazing. It required an incredible amount of synthesizing and critical thinking.

It is hard to make it only 2 minutes long. Another team wanted to make a movie on the commercialization of pure drinking water – 12 year olds.

Child slave labor on the ivory coast of Africa that supports the chocolate industry. Child slave labor. They cut great videos. Judges – program director for Georgia Public Broadcasting. AS good as anything she had ever put on the air.

Caring for mentally handicapped. Every time he shows people cry.
Other topics: – child abuse – captivity of elephants. Inspiring people to achieve against all odds.

Some ideas come from their movies. You can go online and watch the movies. The topics are amazing and the quality is amazing.

It is not about technology and connectivity but the subject matter.

Viewed stem cell video.

They decided not to take sides. They split the screen one side and then the other side – they split the screen. Amazing.

6th grade movie on chocolate
The Dark Side of Chocolate. – 6th graders – Amazing – WOW!
Look for Free Trade Chocolate. WOW!
Eleven year olds.

They love doing this b/c it gave them to have the opportunity in their brain that no one could see to share with others around the world.

It is not about technology but connectivity.

Children crave project driven learning experiences to correlate what they learn in school and what they live in their day-to-day lives.

Kids see their future and what school is doing as divergent. Kids want to connect to what they believe is meaningful to their futures.

History of their world – things that didn’t exist.

He said educators need to jump on RSS.

Meaningfulness is the product of connectedness, of sharing, of contribution.

Believes that we best prepare students for their futures by empowering them to make meaningful an dsignifcant contributions to their present.

Not when you graduate you will thank me for this -- you will thank me for this NOW!

Every teacher has a blog and is required to have a blog. The teachers love their blogs. It invites parents to participate in the classroom.

People want to go to their school!

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