One of the challenging things that comes with being an educator, regardless of your role, is that you truly never know just how much of an impact you make. I think it is important to celebrate the wins, big or small, because through the years they add up. So often we get caught up in the daily grind, checking things off the to-do list and get distracted from the big picture. The why. It’s there, but it’s often hanging in the background. Sometimes it needs to be brought back front and center. While everyone’s why is different, most likely if you are in the education profession, your why involves some aspect of making a positive impact on others.
Recently a notification that came through my Twitter account that made me say “Well, how about that?!” I feel that this deserved more than that reaction alone. A post that allows me to reflect on this seemed more fitting. Below is the message:
When I started as a Teacher on Special Assignment as a District Technology Integrator back in 2014, I had to work to carve a path of how I hoped technology would be used in meaningful ways. The ISTE Student Standards really helped guide me in this learning. Putting these into practice and making them visible to educators I support and students in our school community helps me acheive my why. Looking at a recent ISTE poster, this experience hit on so many of these, for both sides of this virtual connection.
It turns out that this Skype connection back in 2017 was one of my first virtual connections with an expert in the field. Touring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights with a classroom full of students and getting to hear stories, ask questions, reflect and connect this back to what students were learning about in the classroom was incredibly moving and powerful. This created a ripple effect of good in that it made us want to connect with more people and engage in more virtual field trips. Since then, there have been too many to count. In all of these experiences, we really don’t know the impact that they had on students or on the hosts. The same can be true for any virtual exchange. Even a simple Mystery Skype between two classrooms. What I do know is that these connections matter. Learning with and from one another is a gift. Technology that makes this possible is also a gift. This is all part of my why and I am grateful that Graham from CMHR helped bring that back front and center for me. I had no idea that this was also a new experience for them as well until just the other day.
I guess this is why this simple tweet not only made me say “Well how about that?!” but also gives me the energy, especially coming out of a global pandemic where many of these experiences took a backseat, to push on and use tech for good, to make meaningful connections and to create experiences where the learning experience is powerful for everyone involved. Becuase at the end of the day, at the end of the school year, and even years later, you just never know the ripple effect of good that can come from trying something new. Here’s to trying new things with no expectations other than to just use technology in a meaningul way and put some good back into the world!
Join us on May 20th for #StudentVoiceDay 2021, a celebration of learners and voices around the world!
It’s back! Student Voice Day 2018, 2019, and 2020 were all special and this year aims to be no different. This idea was first inspired by Our Global Classroom educators across several continents who wanted to find a single day to celebrate student voice. Our students share their voices daily and in so many ways. This special day allows us to share a prompt that often connects back to the United Nations Global Goals and gets students to come together and share their voice with the world in creative ways. What started on Flipgrid back in 2018 has now expanded to many other platforms. Here is how your class can participate once again, on May 20, 2021 or on any day, because we know EVERY DAY is Student Voice Day.
Bonus: Add the hashtag #WakeletWave to any posts you share.
Buncee Creation One great way to amplify student voice is through creativity. Write, record, or animate your Buncee message capturing one thing that you stand for. Search ‘student voice’ or ‘voice’ when adding items to uncover some awesome messages and stickers made for Student Voice Day by the Buncee Team.
Bonus: Add the hashtag #SeesawChat to any posts you share.
Belouga Playlist Learn about the world with the world. Belouga playlists are a great way to take deep dives on topics that interst you. Their Student Voice Playlist has been updated with over 16 hours of content across more than 25 episodes. The series here will inspire student voice and also inspire students to make positive change in their world as well as share their voice with the world. https://belouga.org/playlists/600b2911-2b4c-40bb-99f9-cba6e636fd05
Bonus: Add the hashtag #AdobeEduCreative to any posts you share.
GoBubble Groups Is your school a GoBubble School? It’s a great way to amplify student voice in a safe space while modeling authentic digital citizenship. There is a Student Voice Day group ready and waiting for students to share their “I stand for…” statements. Add an image with fun GoBubble stickers, a video, or a link to the group and dish out some likes to students who are using their voice for good!
Bonus: Add the hashtag #HappyBubbling to any posts you share.
Sutori Story Sutori is a wonderful way to create a visually stunning timeline. Make a copy of the Student Voice Day Sutori Story and customize it to make it your own. You can add a number of media types to make this story interactive. Don’t forget to add your Student Voice Day Sutori story to the Student Voice Day Wakelet collection! https://www.sutori.com/story/studentvoiceday–QaH55ig6GgPQwpyNMsnJAyMG
Elementari Elementari is a great way to creatively express ideas and share them with others. The first message you get upon visiting the site is ‘Write and Code Interactive Books for Free.” What if your digital book was written around the Student Voice Day prompt of “I stand for…”? Elementari is great for students of all ages and no coding experience is necessary as the built-in tutorials make it easy to get started and find success. In addition to bringing in node-based (visual) programming, there is a collection of media assests to use in creation including art from various independent artists. This is one of our go-to platforms because of it’s ability to hit on many of the ISTE Student Standards. Give it a try today at https://www.elementari.io/ and inspire a joy of writing, creating, coding and publishing on Student Voice Day.
#StudentVoiceDay 2020 finds millions of us around the globe apart due to COVID-19. We’ve seen student voice used in so many powerful ways. What if now more than ever, that voice was used to lift up others? What if once again, the power of technology was used to bring people together?
The educators from the Our Global Classroom (OGC) Community have connected and collaborated on a topic aimed at the topic of gratitude and giving thanks to another who has helped us during this difficult time. You’ve most likely helped someone during this time. Others have most likely helped you in some way. Let’s celebrate the good by using our collective voices! We hope that you’ll join and get inspired to amplify student voice in your classroom on May 13th and beyond.
For #StudentVoiceDay 2020, record a message of gratitude or thanks for someone who has helped you recently. Tell them how they have helped you and the difference they made. A parent, a teacher, a sibling, an essential worker, a neighbor, anyone. For additional impact, share your Flipgrid message with that person!
We realize that student voice happens in many spaces! In-person AND across many different technology platforms. Flipgrid has always been our go-to tool for amplifying student voice, but this year we want to be sure to bring #StudentVoiceDay to as many platforms as possible through tools that students and teachers enjoy. Love getting creative on Buncee? Create and share it there! Love creating collections in Wakelet? Create and share there! Love building in Minecraft? Create and share it there. Love creating your own rhyme in the Flocabulary Lyric Lab? Create and share it there! Love coding? Create a message on Scratch or in the code.org Sprite, App, or Game Lab. Love learning more about the world with the world? Join a Belouga Deep Dive Series and share your voice there on a global scale. Love chatting with classmates and want to share that message with them? Create a bubble on GoBubble and share it on your channel.
*Scroll to the end of this post for resources and collections related to participating in #StudentVoiceDay 2020.
Have some ideas on what other tools could be used this year? Share your ideas to the #StudentVoiceDay hashtag on Twitter and tag @m_drez, @JoyceBronwyn, and @mrshurtteaches!
Even more awesome ways to amplify student voice this year:
The amazing team from @joinbubble have provided a safer, healthier, kinder social space for kids to collaborate & share. Make learning pop with https://t.co/7Ml4a6ax70 as part of your Student Voice Day plans!
This upcoming week I will be making the trek from Buffalo, NY to Philadelphia, PA for the International Society for Technology in Education Conference. It will be a busy stretch of days and I look forward to learning and connecting with so many from my PLN. If you are heading to Philly for #ISTE19, here is where you can find me:
This year, my Our Global Classroom friends and CoPilots, Bronwyn Joyce & Malinda Hurt have joined forces with our friends at Flipgrid to collaborate and create an International #StudentVoiceDay. We hope that you’ll join and get inspired to amplify student voice in your classroom on April 24th and beyond. Currently, over 300 classrooms are signed up to participate. This effort will build on last year’s World Record Wednesday Our Global Classroom Flipgrid topic. More details: http://blog.flipgrid.com/studentvoiceday
What if this day empowered students to be digital leaders in their school communities for the rest of their lives? What if teachers, school administrators, parents, and community members got so inspired by these students that they too vowed to support all students on their digital citizenship journeys?
This March, a student-led Digital Citizenship Summit accomplished all of this and more in Lake Shore Central School District.
Located about 30 minutes from Buffalo NY, Lake Shore serves around 2,500 students from Kindergarten through 12th grade. It’s a school that has put digital technology at the very heart of how it inspires its students through learning.
Their journey towards hosting their DigCit Summit started with students wanting to show children around the world, as well as people in their local community how the internet can, and should be a tool for doing good.
District Technology Integrator, Michael Drezek explains: “Through our own DigCitSummit we really wanted to highlight the importance of digital citizenship and how it can be embedded into all subject areas, Everyone has an effective role to play; from students to educators, administrators to parents, through to our wider community members too.”
“We know that technology plays a big part in our daily life, and we really wanted to drive home that it can be used for good in many different ways.”
Michael, along with a team of teachers across each school within the Lake Shore District, worked closely with the DigCitInstitute (DCI) to bring together their Summit, which was held on March 15th.
“When the DigCitInstitute came in, we looked at the work we were already doing with our students and talked about the importance of empowering students to become teachers of digital citizenship.”
Deann Poleon,K-12 Technology Integrator at Lake Shore explains more: “The students were motivated and energized by the idea that they would be teaching the teachers of the district. They also understood that their work could have an impact and be used by teachers and students throughout the district. They really wanted to show the teachers what they could do.”
This combination of student leadership, educator buy-in, and the DCI’s global perspective led to a Summit that was unique in its creativity, energy, and connectivity with its school community.
Students, parents, and community members came together to celebrate Lake Shore students’ ingenuity; and experience student-led demonstrations of:
To get a taste of the action on this impactful day, enjoy the following productions created with the help of recent Lake Shore graduate, Connor Kwilos:
Feedback from those attending the event has also been empowering:
“Students felt like teachers. They made comments about the amount of talking a teacher does. I thought it was awesome to see the adults who are not tech advanced ask questions like me!”
“It was amazing turning over the material I taught students and letting them decide what adults should learn and watching them blossom. They went so way beyond my expectations. It was phenomenal!”
For Michael and his team, however, it was vital that throughout the day the students lead the conversations.
“Equipping our students with skills like these at such a young age is really important. We hope they’ll remember what they’ve achieved and carry it on from grade to grade, and after they graduate.”
Working with the team at the DigCitInstitute has been critical in making Lake Shore’s vision a reality.
Michael said, “As advocates for technology they were able to highlight examples from classrooms around the world and make it meaningful for our students.”
Dr. Marialice B.F.X. Curran, Founder and Executive Director of the DigCitInstitute is so proud of the Lake Shore Central School District:
“What I loved about Lake Shore’s approach was the active role the students took, they really owned digital citizenship. It truly demonstrates the benefits of a community approach and learning together.”
And Lake Shore’s Summit is right at the heart of the DigCitInstitute’s vision for offering school communities professional and personal development for educators, parents, students and the community at large.
This student-led DigCitSummit planted the seed for continued citizenship growth and impact for years to come. Everyone involved realized that this work is too important to be a stand-alone event. A ripple effect of good was done. Lake Shore Central plans to continue this work in classrooms, at home and throughout the community as well as continue to inspire others around the world to follow their lead. To keep up with the action, follow along with the hashtag #digcitLSC on your favorite social media channels.
World Read Aloud Day is a celebration of reading and literacy. It is a call for people, especially our students to grab a book, find an audience, and read aloud. There are so many great books out there and you’ll find many amazing students from around the world reading and sharing on this day. But what if one of the books read aloud for World Read Aloud Day (#WRAD2019) hasn’t been written yet? What if your class helped write the story…and read the story to the world?
This year, we’ll be doing just that with Buncee, a classroom multimedia tool that helps writing come alive. Schools around the globe will contribute to a #GlobalBunceeBook and write the story. The project will run from January 30 to February 15, 2019 and won’t be possible without awesome classrooms joining in and adding a page to the book.
Let your creativity and imagination fly as the #GlobalBunceeBook travels from classroom to classroom.
2. Read the Buncees added to the Board from oldest to newest (oldest will be farthest away from the “add” button).
3. As a class, create a Buncee, adding a page (or two) to the story from previous Buncees on the Board.
*Bonus: Add the Bunceeman character to the story (searchable in ‘Stickers’)
4. Have your class attach audio of them reading their part of the story using the Buncee audio feature and built-in audio recorder. Your Buncee will now have a play button on the text.
5. On the last page of your Buncee, add your school name and location so we can tally up the total virtual miles between pages.
6. Make your Buncee ‘Copyable’ in the ‘Share’ settings.
7. Copy the Link Code in the ‘Share’ settings.
8. Add your Buncee to the Buncee Board
9. Once you post, tag an educator in your PLN to join in and add a page to continue the story
10. Subscribe to the Buncee Board above to follow the story OR wait until late February when all of the individual Buncee pages will be shared as a single #GlobalBunceeBook that your class helped author!
How Will the Story End?
That’s part of the fun! You’ll have to wait and find out. Will Abby and Bunceeman venture into the big city? Did Abby leave something on the school bus? What exactly might that dog discover while digging in the yard? What’s with the strange spacecraft above the city? Could that dog possibly end up in outer space (FYI – there is a dog astronaut sticker)?
We have a classroom ready at Lake Shore CSD to write and record the final page read aloud on February 15 after all other pages are added by participating classrooms.
How Do I Know It’s My Turn To Write/Create?
Don’t stress. Jump in when you and your class are ready!
What If I Don’t Have a Buncee Account?
Sign up for a free (30-Day) Classroom Account here.
Participating classrooms are encouraged to share out to #GlobalBunceeBook, #WRAD19, and #WorldReadAloudDay.
The Quest for Edlightenment podcast is now live. Tune in below! Stay tuned for the first episode to launch this month. More episodes and special guests are in the works. I am looking forward to this new adventure and the learning it may bring.
As educators, we make it a goal of trying to develop students into good citizens, preparing them for the world that awaits them once they leave our classroom. This is no easy task and I can’t think of much more important for the betterment of our world. Prior to becoming a technology integration specialist, I was a classroom math teacher at a Middle School in Western New York. During this time my focus was on making sure my students developed their mathematical thinking, reasoning and problem-solving. I also focused on helping students to become kind and caring at this transitional time approaching their teenage years. The best way I knew to do this was to form positive relationships and model this behavior myself. It worked for many, but it sure was tough. Middle School kids could sure be cruel to each other. They seemed to enjoy life going about their day to day focused on not much other than themselves and what their peers thought of them. Looking back to my Middle School self, I was just like this. These students were a smart bunch finding their way, making mistakes, finding humor in just about everything, even my math lessons. My teaching was confined to my own classroom. You entered Room 207, we learned in Room 207, asked questions in Room 207 and what went on in Room 207 probably for the most part stayed in Room 207 aside from the few students who actually told their parent or guardian what they did in math class that day when they got the question, “So, what did you do in school today?” Keep in mind, this was prior to digital portfolios and parental communication SMS tools like Remind and Bloomz. What was missing from my classroom was a connection to the real world, beyond the book. A math problem referencing a real-world scenario was the best I did. I needed to do better for my students if they were truly going to be prepared for the real world.
Fast forward several years later to today. The advancement of educational technology and the continued movement towards a global society along with teachers looking to engage and empower students has changed the landscape of classrooms and schools. No longer does learning just have to be contained in “Room 207.” In my new role as a technology integration specialist, I aim to bring meaningful learning experiences to the classroom by utilizing technology. To focus on meaningful integration, I love connecting back to the International Society for Technology in Education Standards. I especially like connecting to the latest student standards. These include Empowered Learner, Digital Citizen, Knowledge Constructor, Innovative Designer, Computational Thinker, Creative Communicator, and Global Collaborator.
While embarking on my journey of seeking global collaborations with technology I came across Empatico, a project brought to classrooms by The KIND Foundation. The headline that caught my eye was: “Empatico introduces your students to the world, no passport needed.” Along with it was also the phrase “Match with another classroom. Discover standards-based content. Connect in real time.” This sounded like a recipe for meaningful technology integration and learning to me. Also, the name Empatico hit very close to empathy, something our students need to develop in becoming good citizens. It is aimed at students ages 7-11 (Grades 1-5 in the U.S.) and is completely free (and always will be). The idea behind creating this for children is that having early positive experiences with diverse types of people can strongly influence how they develop perceptions of others in the future. After doing a little more reading about Empatico, it was clear that this program very well aligns with the ISTE Student Standards.
Within a couple minutes, I had an account created and a profile set. I connected with classroom teacher Lori Wunder of A.J. Schmidt Elementary School, one whom I support in my role as a technology integrator/TOSA. I was excited to share with her this new learning tool. There were four activities for us to choose from. In finding a common match with another classroom, we had to set our availability on their built in calendar as well as select two of the four activities. This would allow there to be a shared interest in topics. The activities available were Helping Hands, Ways We Play, Community Cartographers and Weather Out The Window. The total activity time is 2-3 hours, which includes a preparation activity before the interaction (40-70 min) and a reflection activity after the interaction (20 min). Matched classrooms can and are encouraged to modify or extend the connection to meet their individual needs. In our case, what started just as laid out in Empatico, spun off into a collaborative Kindness Project. Our classes both selected Community Cartographers and Weather Out The Window.
Within the dashboard was a Resources/Materials tab with ready to use items for teachers including printables and ideas. These included and could be filtered by need:
Teacher Tips for Intercultural Experiences
Parent Take Home Letter
Empatico Skills Mini-Lessons
We were matched with a class in Andover, Kansas from Prairie Creek Elementary. Within the Empatico Teacher Dashboard, there was a messaging portal that made communication a breeze. I loved that I also received an email message when our partner class responded. Within a couple days we were having our first connection. Empatico promotes the exchanges as seamless and I couldn’t agree more. With one click of a button, our classrooms were connected over video.
You could feel the positive energy in the room as kids were so interested in meeting their partner class. Students asked questions about each other’s school day, hobbies, and community. We learned that we both had something in common in starting Kindness Projects in our schools and both agreed to help each other out and share experiences. During this initial video connection, I could see students making connections to how they were similar and also to some of their differences. It was during this call we also learned of our partner class’s Kindness Project. They were creating cards and gift boxes for a local children’s hospital. It inspired our students in Mrs. Wunder’s class to create cards for our local children’s hospital connecting on the hashtag #theroadtokindness. We calculated the distance between our schools in Google Maps. 1,142 miles to be exact. We also realized it would take us almost 17 hours to drive there. Students couldn’t wait to connect again for the next part of the activity.
We scheduled our second connection to take place a couple weeks later. This allowed students enough time to construct their maps of their surrounding school community and put their cartography skills to work.
When it was time to connect again, we switched between classes describing their school community surroundings. Here is a video highlighting part of the exchange. During this exchange, it was really snowing heavily outside in Angola, NY. The students in Kansas loved to see the snow because it is rare they get much of it. It helped set the stage for our next activity exchange, “The Weather out the Window.”
Here are a few examples of student maps shown in this Tweet.
I was impressed that a few of our students even labeled specific names of an apartment complex and a lake nearby their partner school. I loved that it forced them to communicate creatively and ask the right questions in creating the most accurate map possible while knowing almost nothing about their partner school’s community.
After our connection ended, we took to Google Maps again, this time to satellite view and street view to see just how what it really looked like compared to what students mapped based on what was communicated to them. The students loved being able to explore the area in Google Street View feeling almost as if they were right outside the doors of their partner school. We also found a few of the places referenced that made it feel even more real. It was a fabulous global learning experience and collaboration.
Circling back to the indicators to ISTE Student Standard 7: Global Collaborator. They are listed as:
Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning
Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints
Students contribute constructively to project teams, assuming various roles and responsibilities to work effectively toward a common goal.
Students explore local and global issues and use collaborative technologies to work with others to investigate solutions.
Empatico hits on many of these indicators and serves as a launching point to teachers wanting to venture out and explore new global education opportunities. Knowing that I experienced students becoming empowered learners, creative communicators, digital citizens, innovative designers and knowledge constructors through Empatico made it a huge success.
In addition to the 4 activities in Empatico, they also launched a two-week long Caring Kids Challenge that which we signed up to participate in. The Caring Kids Challenge was designed to provide free, simple activities to reinforce positive social skills and help students build stronger relationships while navigating differences with curiosity and kindness, in the present and for years to come. These were short 10-20 minute challenges and they certainly sparked some empathy for our learners. The first week’s challenge focused on respectful communication, one of the four Empatico Skill Pillars. The second week’s challenge focused on cooperation and critical thinking skills. All activities and challenges take on a focus of perspective taking in helping students relate to the experiences of others and understanding how those others feel.
Getting back to #theroadtokindness collaboration that became an organic extension of our Empatico connection, here are a few snapshots of the magic that took place:
Ready to get started in your classroom with Empatico? Visit https://empatico.org, click Get Matched with a Class, create a profile setting available times to collaborate and you’re on your way to being matched with another class somewhere in the world. Enjoy the ride and the learning ahead, but more importantly, enjoy the benefits of a classroom actively developing more empathetic students!
As my first child begins Kindergarten next year, I can’t help but think that if he is experiencing these during his educational experiences on a fairly regular basis, he will be well prepared for anything that may come his way. I want my son to be a good citizen, a global citizen. I can only hope that he gets to experience the power of Empatico along his journey. Fingers crossed!
Looking back at 2017, my one word was ‘discover.’ It is safe to say that this was THE perfect word that I landed on for the year. I had no idea just what I would discover at the time of choosing my one word for 2017 but here is my reflection and look back on the year.
What exactly did I discover?
I discovered that so many of our teachers are moving forward in terms of trying new things in their classroom with educational technology. I love their attitude and openness to new ideas. I also discovered that nobody knows their classroom better than them. By acting as a thought partner and not through me fully driving the direction of the lesson, our collaboration created better learning experiences.
I discovered ways to amplify student voice. From throwing a random tweet at Sean Farnum about collaborating on a student podcast (which led to this and this and this) to harnessing the power of tools like Flipgrid, Buncee, and Seesaw to hosting a student edcamp, I not only discovered ways of amplifying student voice but the real power and value that comes from doing so. Just tuning in to what students have to say is powerful. Listening to the Student Ignite sessions at ISTE 2017 is something I recommend. Check out Curran Central’s talk here to get a taste.
I discovered the true value of a PLN, or PLF as Sarah Thomas remixed the term for the better at ISTE 2017. This PLF exists on Twitter and in my own backyard. Folks down the hall and teachers in the region at our regional educator forums are a wealth of experience, knowledge, and resources. We share the same vision and the face to face conversations and sharing is always special. I am grateful for Andrew Wheelock and Melanie Kitchen leading and facilitating these sessions. On Twitter (and Voxer), social media has been such a powerful way to connect. The folks here are truly dedicated and looking to create the best possible learning experiences for their students. I discovered that so many of them go out of their way to help, encourage, support, stretch my thinking, and most importantly, share some smiles and laughs together along the way.
I discovered the need to move from digital citizenship to digital leadership. Are we providing these opportunities? Digital citizenship cannot be taught from a textbook, worksheet or lecture. Discovering the book Social LEADia from Jennifer Casa-Todd was a game changer for me. I was grateful to meet her at Canada Connect Conference this year and also connect with her coding club over a video Google Hangout session. Meeting Marialice Curran also helped shape my view of what positive digital citizenship and leadership can look like. Discovering Dig Cit Summits and following along with them led to some great learning and new ideas.
I discovered failure. That’s right. I messed some stuff up. Not that I haven’t experienced it before, but I discovered looking at it differently. Things did not always go as planned. Nobody got hurt and I did not lose my job over it. One of my flaws is that I am often concerned with how other people view me or think of me. Trying to get things perfect comes along with that. This past year I let go of that worry and it was freeing. If I could travel back in time and give the high school me one piece of advice, this would be it.
I discovered the Teach Sustainable Development Goals movement thanks to Fran Siracusa. I was fortunate to be able to connect virtually to learn about how technology can help make the world a better place. Through this tweet she shared, I also discovered #CelebrateMonday, eventually connecting and learning from Sean Gaillard, the founder of #CelebrateMonday! I took the pledge shortly after and promise to keep the conversations active. Through Fran, I also discovered Connections Based Learning and some amazing projects their team led by Sean Robinson participated in. It completely changed how I look at the integration of educational technology. It is so much more than just improving academics (while that is important) and test scores.
I discovered global connections and collaborations are amazing. I have yet to experience a global collaboration and thought I could have made a better use of the time or done something differently. Each one is unique and each one helps students ask more questions than provides answers. I want all learning to feel like this. Buncee Buddies, Belouga, Empatico, STEM Hub, Mystery Skypes, Global Maker Day, K12 Valentine, Awesome Squiggles, Gingerbread STEM, Best Class Podcast, Minecraft Literature World, Read Across America, Global Speed Chat, PenPal Schools, Seesaw Connected Blogs, Skype-a-Thon, and even a high school Student Twitter Chat (#usetech4good – #positivelykind – #digcit). I will aim to discover even more of these learning opportunities in the new year and beyond. I really appreciate the hashtag created by Bronwyn Joyce, #OneWorldOneClassroom.
I discovered just how much I don’t know and how much room I have to grow. As a father, as a husband, as a friend, and as an educator. I am on the right path but discovering and identifying this will make me better.
I discovered the power of gratitude. I have always been a grateful person. My parents raised me this way. However, I never gave much thought to just how powerful gratitude can be. When at the Children’s Book Expo I stopped at a table with a sign reading 365 Days of Gratitude. I met a student author, Muskan Virk along with her mother, Meera. I picked up a copy of the book. Inspired by her message, I invited Muskan to Skype with our school. She agreed, shared her story and her message with students and teachers. It was a highlight of the school year and will leave a lasting impact. I look forward to connecting with her again to discover other ways she is making a difference in the world.
I discovered the real value in Minecraft Education Edition thanks to Mark Grundel and Garrett Zimmer. Their MOOC helped me learn so much about game-based learning and taking risks. It carried over to our classrooms and our students benefited. I took the leap and applied to become a Minecraft Education Global Mentor and was accepted into the program this December. It will run throughout 2018 and I am excited to discover more possibilities from others around the globe part of this community.
I discovered the need to give myself a break. Sometimes I push and push and push to the point of exhaustion. I discovered while the push helps me do what I do well, that pushing too hard will never bring about the best version of me. It is all about balance.
I discovered the power of leaning on your support. Doing it alone will always be an impossible climb, even if you think otherwise. The term “better together” is the truth.
I discovered to appreciate the unknown and what might lie ahead. We’ll never be able to predict our journey but appreciating that we are on one with great people around us is something special.
I probably discovered much more than I am even capturing here but this is what jumps out. I encourage you to take the one word challenge. If you want to take the idea a bit further to your students, check out what Dene Gainey did with his class here. That’s right, he turned it into a writing activity for students and created a podcast from them!
Goodbye 2017. Hello, 2018! May your one word help you discover as much as it did for me.