I am published in a textbook!!!!

Here are some quick page shots of a textbook that I was published in. Despite being published in the book I have to tell you that this is an AMAZING read on how to flatten your classroom and connect your students with the world. I have worked with these authors through some projects and also became Flat Classroom Certified. Without a doubt this is one of the most important textbooks/books to come out to help teachers and students learn how important it is to knock down the classroom walls and start to think globally. I have a book review coming out either later tonight or tomorrow. It is a video review and will be posted to YouTube tonight.

My flat classroom projectWhat me? Published?Global gossip

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Flat Classroom: A Week In The Life – project is highlighted by local newspaper

Came to school today in a mad rush as I was running late for a meeting. As I walked down the hallway many staff members were telling me about the nice article about my classroom. I finally grabbed hold of the newspaper to see a wonderful write up about the Bettendorf 5th Grade ELP students and their participation in the A Week In The Life project that I am also helping to manage and run.

Here is the the link to the article and the photos

Below is a video interview about the project.

You can find links to the project and all the great things happening on my Google Site

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Join Flat Classroom at ASB Unplugged in Mumbai India

We’re gearing up to take students to India. Here’s info to join us. If you’re interested in taking a class, get those applications in. I’d be happy to pair up with US schools on travel arrangements if it helps.

Flat Classroom® Conference and Live Events 
a 501(c)3 non profit invites interested schools and educators to apply now to attend the  

Flat Classroom® Workshop at ASB Unplugged 2012 in Mumbai, India.  
All details are on the wiki. (http://asbunplugged2012.flatclassroomproject.org/)

Deadline for Application: October 31, 2011
Final selection of classes completed: November 15, 2011.

Application form: http://tinyurl.com/asb2012flatclass

Don’t forget also, Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay will release their book, “Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration one Step at a Time” in January 2012. Sign up for advance notice and more details at http://flatclassroombook.com

If you might be interested in possibly traveling to India, then please contact me via email or stopping down in my office ASAP. The deadline is quickly approaching and I need to see if there are students at BMS interested in this very cool educational experience

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Elementary School Classrooms embrace "A Week in the Life…."

Press Release
Co-founders of the Flat Classroom® Project, Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay are excited to announce another session of the Elementary School Flat Classroom Project. After the very successful pilot project in 2010 that included eight schools and 9 classrooms from five countries, this 2011-2 project joins together about 500 students from 19 schools and 6 countries to develop an appropriate global collaborative experience within a curriculum framework for students in Grades 3-5 of ages 8-11. For the current project, running September through December 2011, the project managers are Aaron Maurer and Cathy Wolinsky. They are assisted by Toni Olivieri-Barton (Community Manager), Tina Schmidt (Meetup Manager), and Maureen Tumenas (Media Mentor).

“We are building on the excitement and engagement of the previous project, knowing that another team of excellent educators are working furiously together to make this the best global experience possible, using Flat Classroom pedagogy supported by emerging Web 2.0 technologies”, states Julie, “Not only are we connecting the students but teachers met every week and explore best ways to collaborate within and inquiry-based curriculum approach.”

The project is called “A Week in the Life…..” and centers around sharing what life is like for students in their respective schools and countries. It encourages students to connect and communicate to build an online learning community and to collaborate on a common set of guiding questions and objectives. For this project we are using the tool Edmodo which provides flexibility for group creation and file uploading. It also supports development of multimedia collecting and sharing skills, and awareness of collaborative learning environments through the practical application of the project wiki. Topics for the project include School Time, Languages and Clothing, Housing and Transportation, Leisure Time, Food & Celebrations and Environment.

We encourage interested teachers and supporters of global collaborative projects to review the developing wiki material at (http://aweekinthelife11-2.flatclassroomproject.org/) This project will run until December 15, 2011, by which time students will have created celebration material based on their collected multimedia.

Applications of interest are being taken now for future projects. See details at http://tinyurl.com/fcpesapplication

Flat Classroom® Projects are award winning projects that have been running for the past four years for middle and high schools students. The original project, The Flat Classroom Project, is based on the concepts found in Tom Friedman’s book, ‘The World is Flat’, and subsequently has been included in the reprint of the book in 2007. Other projects include Digiteen Project (raising awareness of digital citizenship) and NetGenEd Project, run in conjunction with Don Tapscott (looks at emerging technologies and netgen norms of behavior). We encourage all educators and global collaborative project supporters to join our Flat Classrooms network to receive further updates on all Flat Classroom Projects. http://flatclassrooms.ning.com More information about Flat Classroom Projects can be found on the website http://flatclassroomproject.net

Participating Schools in “A Week in the Life….” 2011-2

Schools Teachers
Alta Vista Elementary, Los Gatos, California, USA Christy Mills & Mary Fran Lynch
American International School Guangzhou, China Shauna Cottrell
American School of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland Evan Chong & Catrin Barber
Berkshire Country Day School, Lenox, Massachusetts, USA Maureen Tumenas
Bettendorf Community School, Bettendorf, Iowa, USA Aaron Maurer
Brook Park Memorial Elementary, Berea City School District, Brook Park, Ohio, USA Amren Fowler & Jamie Palcisko
Gilman Lower School, Baltimore, Maryland, USA Donna Vaccaro
H.C. Storm Elementary, Batavia, Illinois, USA Sarah Barrett
Kennard CJA, USA Laurie Batres
Korea International School, South Korea Jenn MacSwain
Marietta Center for Advanced Academics, Marietta, Georgia, USA Susie Throop
Oakridge International School, Einstein Campus, Oakridge, India Kanchan Lele
Park View Elementary, Mooresville, North Carolina, USA Julie Buda
Shanghai Community International School, Shanghai, China Sheri DeNeef & Ashley Holst
St. Martin’s Episcopal School, Winnetka, California, USA Vicky Sedgwick
Stone Oak Elementary, San Antonio, Texas, USA Cindy Glenn
The Bolles School, Jacksonville, Florida, USA Cynthia Clements
The Study, Quebec City, Canada Lisa Jacobsen
West Tisbury School, Martha’s Vineyard, USA Valerie Becker & Mary Boyd
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Flat Classroom Challenge #15: Project Re-Design

It has been a long time since I have taken time to really focus on my Flat Classroom Project that I worked on called Global Gossip. I was able to test and sample out parts of this project. Here is the wiki where the project is located – http://coffeechug.wikispaces.com/

I have bigger plans for the project this year. I am currently reworking some of components to this project. Twitter is not always readily available in schools(like mine). I am working on ways to work around Twitter or make it more accessible. Twitter was very important to the project and provided great benefit so I need to really focus in on this piece.

The project itself is quite open where the teachers involved can decided what approach to take the students. However, I have added some guiding questions to help get things started.

  • Why are the future dreams of students from various culture and countries the same/different?
  • What are the cultural differences?How is English spoken differently in countries outside of the USA?
  • What does school look like in different countries?
  • How is the makeup of society – homogenous society vs. multi-cultural society, individual focused vs. community based, etc.?
  • What is the perception of the country and what is the reality?
  • What can we learn from another country to make our society better?
  • What is important(goals, expectations) to the society and drives the dreams of students?

 I am currently working a new wiki/website for the project instead of having it combined with all the other online projects that my students do. I would like for this project to be large enough that it deserves a site of its own. As the new school year starts I plan to unravel round two of this project.

Lastly, the video aspect of the project became a very useful tool. It allowed students to really grasp the culture of the other countries. I am going to focus on this aspect more in addition to Skype and meeting in real time.

For a test run, this project worked well, but it has room for more improvements.

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Flat Classroom #13: My Project Pitch

Wow! It has been a long time since I worked on this project. In reality it was not that long ago that I was just starting the summer working like mad on my Flat Classrooom Certification Program. It is and was the best educational experience I have encountered.

Anyways, I realized this morning that I have many loose ends on several projects and ideas that I just need to complete before the school year begins. I know that once the school year begins my brain will be working like mad to come up with new projects and ideas.

Here is my project pitch. I plan to implement this project this school year so be on the lookout if you think you might want to participate. I will be setting everything up now through September and hopefully will unravel this project in October.

Module 6: Global Project Design Elements

Challenge #13: Project Design

#13 Bonus!: Engage with Social Media

 Flat Classroom Presentation.pptx

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Flat Classroom – Mod 8 Meeting Make-Up – The keys to effective online global collaboration

I was not able to attend this meeting as it started at 7:30 in the morning and this time just does not work out for me due to school schedules and kids.

I am a obviously a few weeks behind in writing up my make-up work as school is now out and there has since been another meeting.

I am slowly finding my motivation to get things done after enjoying my family in these beginning days of summer break and doing next to nothing but playing, playing, and playing.

Here are the questions that were discussed during the meeting.

  • What are the criteria for successfully managing a global collaborative project?
  • What are some issues that global project managers are challenged by? How can these be solved to the satisfaction of all participants?
  • Why are some projects more ‘successful’ than others? How can we support participants needs from different countries, systems and expectations?
  • What affect does global collaboration have on the rest of the school, if any?
  • What are the characteristics of an engaged teacher and classroom in a global collaborative project?

I am taking a different approach to this compared to actually being in the meeting. I took a few notes of thoughts in my mind while listening to this hour plus meeting. Instead of answering each question as a whole I will just collectively ramble about my thoughts.

One thing that everyone is facing is stress and the meeting of deadlines. It seems that each of us are feeling those pressures whether in the classroom, from administrators, events in our personal lives, etc. I think it is important that we have one another to realize we are alone in our thoughts of craziness and trying to sort through the hectic lives we live. I also cannot but think of our students and remember that to some degree this is how they feel when being pulled by several teachers, parents, coaches, friends, etc. Hearing everyone talk about stress reminded me that I need to be more flexible in my teaching because I often ask for others to be flexible with me.

When working with other teachers and students no matter if the playing field is global, stateside, or even across the hall, there are many things we must consider in order for a project to be successful. Many times the the issues that challenge us are the same ones that create success and affect the rest of the school day. They often are bundled all in one great big package.

One of the these issues is communication. It is important to establish good communication methods for both the teachers and the students. You have to be willing to work together to form a relationship that benefits both parties. The use of email is the easiest, but being open to tools like Skype and other social media outlets are also important. Find what works and go with it. This might differ with each class you work with. 

Another issue is seeing the project through. It is always easy to be very excited early on. The kids are excited and the teachers are excited. However, as the project moves forward the same excitement needs to continue. I have been in projects where we got off to a great start and then everything just fizzles out and frustration sets in because all the time and energy has been lost. We also don’t want to let our partners down.

Feeding off of the previous idea is to make sure we keep things simple enough for everyone. You don’t need 10 different tools. The simpler the choices and ideas, the better off you are going to be. I think that if things are kept simple, then it leaves room for the really good classrooms to add other features along the way. Keeping things simple allows everyone a chance to be successful.

Last, the issue that is the major stress of all education…..time. Finding time in the day to work on the projects. Some of these projects must take up some precious class time for certain blocks of time. We have to be willing to devote and time and resources. This means we have to really believe in what we are doing and that the project is beneficial. 

These ideas discussed are all ones that I feel are very important, but are very hard to accomplish. They go hand in hand. I have failed on some of these items as well as being successful. The key is to be open and honest when things go wrong or are neglected and celebrate when they go well.

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Flat Classroom #12: Celebration and Summation

Challenge #12: Celebration and Summation

Do: Participate in a summit for your learning as part of your course or in one of our learning summits as shown in the schedule at www.flatclassroombook.com/ch9. The summit should be recorded and you should have a graphic to present in the on-line classroom as you reflect upon what you’ve learned.
Optional. If you do not have a course or group to present with, recruit three to four people in your learning community to attend your brief on-line presentation in a classroom. Share with them a summary of what you have learned and a celebration of your accomplishment!

Share: Blog about the process of presenting in an on-line classroom and summarize your presentation. Embed your graphic and a link to the recording of the presentation (if available.) Suggest at least one idea for a flat classroom – style project that relates to your content area.
tag: fcc12_summit

I am continuing the new project that I tested out where the students had to present their final projects to the rest of the 7th grade students as a two day final test of their expertise on their project.

For this project students had to tackle one aspect of the Cold War, research, cover two learning targets, and finally relate what they have learned to the events of today. After giving them time to research and plan(each student filled out their own individual learning target) students then had to create a presentation in which students(the rest of the 300 plus 7th grade students and teachers) would come to them to hear their presentation and learn about their field of expertise. The second day involved being tested and questioned by myself to really see how much they actually know.

Being the end of the year(we are already done) I did not have enough time to create an online community so everything was done in person. However, I feel that the presentations and learning was just as powerful as presenting online. I talked with Julie and she gave me the nod to use this for this challenge.

I think that overall, the project was a success. Time was too short and if students were given maybe one more week they would have done an even greater job. With that being said, we created a mini museum in our auditorium. Students had to get students to come to their station so they could present(they were graded on the amount of students they presented to).

Giving them the chance to pick one aspect of the Cold War to focus on was a positive. I held one on one conversations where I talked with them about the basic information that they are expected to know. We had four meetings where we focused on the specific learning targets so the learning was the same for everyone. However, they needed to go deeper and that is where the independent project came in. They could choose one area of interest and really dive into the topic and learn as much as they can. The unit was not canned. It was open for them to explore their interests.

Overall, the project was successful. We did not allow PowerPoint so many created either a movie or a triboard with replicas. I also hammered them with questions to see if they could make connections to the events of today. Really, that is the point of learning history to bridge the past with today.

I think if we were able to coordinate an online presentation to another audience the students would have taken it to a whole new level. There is something to be said to the focus of students when they have to present to others besides their peers. I have done other online projects and when we speak to other classrooms around the world there is a whole new sense of professionalism that comes into play without me having to really teach it. They want to look good in front of the “unknown” audience.

Next year, I will move this to the online world. Perhaps have them work with others around the country and present to multiple classrooms online and end with some online voting and assessing. This was a great step in the right direction.

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Flat Classroom #10: Give Students a Choice

Challenge #10: Give Students a Choice

Do after: Module 5 Choice and Creation
Do: Write a project plan where students are given a choice in their outcome and topic for a project.
If you are in a school: Do the lesson / project plan(s) with your students. Take notes about what worked and what didn’t.
If you are not in a school. Secure potential for a guest teaching spot for your project or share the lesson / project plan(s) with your learning community on a wiki and ask for feedback.
Share: After completing the process, share your project plan on your blog or in a community lesson planning resources like Curriki. If you post it on an on-line public resources, share the link on your blog with your reflection.

I just wrapped up a massive project with my 4th and 5th grade ELP students. It was an 8 week independent study project. I have the whole project documented here

This project was all about choice.

  • Students chose their interest or passion to explore further
  • Students chose who to interview
  • Students chose where to go on location for research
  • Students chose what their display would be and how it would look
  • Students chose to make it as amazing as they wanted
  • Students chose how to manage their time 
  • Students chose everything knowing it would end in presenting to about 200-300 people 

 This project worked wonderfully. This was the first time that we implemented a project of this size. We wanted to provide the elementary students with a project that was long term. They need to learn how to manage their time and work under a long term project. So much of elementary education is short term where tasks are due the same day or next day. A two month project is much different.

Being that we only meet with each grade two days a week, much of this project was on their own. During class we reflected, shared out our progress, and focused on a skill set each week. We also went on a various field trips and activities to promote the Quad Cities.

The final due date ended in a Showcase Night. We brought in projects in grades. The students were able to see all the projects. Each grade was assigned 30 minutes to be at their station to field questions. The rest of the night they could check out the work of others. We also created a movie room to show the videos of students. This was a great sucess.

Looking back I don’t anything went wrong. We made changes as needed and worked very hard to keep parents and students in the loop. I held a parent meeting at the beginning. A couple of things for next year would be

  • require all projects to be turned in the week before for us to evaluate prior to the showcase
  • require students to present to class the week prior to the showcase
  • pop popcorn for the movies
  • change the parameters of the project to promote higher level thinking

Overall, this project helped to further support the idea that if we provide students an opportunity to pursue their passions they will blow us out of the water. Grades are not needed when students are full engaged. I could not be more proud of my students. They developed real world skills and in the end showcased all the things our students are capable of achieving.

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