Friday's workshop went exceedingly well -- the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. More on this in my next post.
Anne was with us the entire day! She danced the tango with us and she shared how she used blogs with her elementary students and now with her high school students. The description of the collaboration she did with Will's journalism class really opened everyone's eyes to the potential of this technology. I've been mulling over a way to establish a similar link between an elementary school and my classes here in Winnipeg. Although I had known about Will's and Anne's classes working together, hearing how they had orchestrated the experience has planted a seed in my brain as well. Anne told us how a typical elementary student, when given any writing to do, tosses it off quickly in order to be done with it ASAP. In this collaboration, because they were writing for high school students, they wanted to impress the high school kids and poured time and energy into their writing like they had never done before.
Anne also talked about the emotional impact that a global community can have on a single child by sharing with us Patrick's story -- a young man in grade five whose greatest wish was to pass grade five. The community responded and so did Patrick.
It was as though Anne was actually in the room with us. She shared her thoughts on how to respond to negative comments or students posting controversial material. She participated in the lively discussion we had about the reliability of bloggers as a source of information. Anne also participated in the blogging section of Rip, Mix, Learn by commenting on the teacher's posts in The Playground. She made real the message she shared about how to orchestrate the participation of a global community in the comments to students posts. Anne you were unreal! I just can't thank you enough!
Sheryl skyped in (we had them both on a conference call -- I just learned how to do that with skype the day before the workshop.) She talked about how teachers can overcome the anxiety of learning and adapting technology to their practice. She made this really powerful statement: You can't give away what you don't own. She went on to describe how owning technology isn't about owning hardware, it's about owning the knowledge and know-how to facilitate learning. Her voice came through the speakers so clearly -- her message came through even more so! Sheryl, you are one fantastic lady. Everyone who walked out of my workshop said the same thing. Thank you so much!
Clarence is the master of the timely skype call. We had just had an in depth discussion of ways in which blogs and other read/write tools can be integrated into both the elementary and high school classes when the middle school teachers started asking: "Do you have any middle school examples?" I said: "You need to speak to Clarence." Skype rang and there he was! Clarence uses a very different blogging model than I do -- each of my classes has one blog for the entire class; Clarence has each student maintain their own blog. It was really eye opening to hear about another model from the man who had developed it. Clarence mentioned, in almost an off the cuff, matter of fact way, that his class uses their blogs to interact with students in Saskatchewan, Korea and Australia. Another powerful example of how blogs bring the world into the classroom every day. Clarence talked about how his students are learning not just curricular content but also the differences between cultures who have different assumptions and celebrate different holidays. He also shared with us how he dealt with students who tried to publish personal (controversial) content about members of their community and the powerful educational discussion this led to in his classroom. Clarence, your contributions were simply outstanding! I don't know how to thank you in a way that is comparable to what you shared with the teachers in my workshop.
Dean skyped in too. He had a crazy busy day and I didn't think he was going to make it. Unfortunately we had trouble connecting (something with skype?). Nonetheless, with everything he had going on he tried to participate. It was the fourth skype call into the workshop -- I think their heads were spinning. ;-) I'm grateful for the effort you made Dean.
I've run out of superlatives. My friend's impact was dramatic and I can only say you'll never really know how appreciative I am -- thank you.