Tag Archives: Laura Stockman

Connections take time

So, it’s school holidays. You’d think I’d be posting like a mad woman wouldn’t you -making up for all of the time I couldn’t post because work was getting in the way.

Well. I haven’t been. I’ve been busy making connections.

Working together 2 make a difference has attracted a reasonable size community of educators but we would like to see some connective activity happen between the members. Mike Poluk has agreed to take on some of the administrative role in the Ning to support Angela Stockman and myself.  Right now the space has had a bit of a revamp and Angela has added some groups to see if we can get more connections happening. Laura Stockman has added a 25 days to make a difference group; setting us all the challenge to see what we can achieve in 25 days with random acts of kindness. Nice.  Take a visit and see if you can join us. It’s a very positive space and the people who are active there are very genuine about what it is they are doing.

I’ve also been connecting with the gym again! This is twofold; it’s also a means of connecting with my daughter as we have joined together. Both of us were in agony yesterday after a Pump class, but we headed out to do battle with the treadmills and bikes. I figure my headspace needs the benefits that physical activity can bring, and my body space could do with the paring down that physical activity can bring!

I’ve also been commenting on a few posts. Take a look at Dennis Harter’s post on U Tech Tips about “Is the term 21st Century out of date?” Dennis talks about ‘buy -in’ and the need for it to happen if we are to see real change occur in teacher’s adopting new techologies for learning purposes.  Interesting post and comment feed -worth reading.

By far the post that has taken up quite a bit of time is Wes Fryer’s post about the NSW deployment of Netbooks. I left a comment that made a bit of a sweeping generalisation in the first line about the lack of professional development supporting the rollout. Yes, it was a sweeping generalisation, I admit it, and Ben Jones picked me up on it.  I’ll paste our thread in here rather than reinvent the wheel trying to explain it all. Best to get you to follow Ben’s links and make your mind up about where it’s all heading.

Me:

Unfortunately, little to no thought has gone into the professional development necessary to ensure that the teachers of NSW (and other States of Australia that are seeing netbooks rolled out into classrooms)are adequately prepared to use them to their full potential in classrooms. Hardware is part of the solution, but ensuring our teachers feel confident in the effective and meaningful use of the hardware is the vital key to the success of this rollout. No keys apparent as yet!

Ben:

Jim/Jenny
Yes on the limited information you have read you would be correct the focus is on the technology however please read the full information:
- Curriculum Support & Professional Learning Materials: http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/digital_rev/index.htm
- Professional Learning support for Leaders: https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/proflearn/der/index.html
- Digital Learning objects custom for the laptops: http://www.tale.edu.au/tale/live/global/DERNSW/laptops.jsp? (there is 1000’s of other digital learning objects in TaLe but you need to be a DETNSW teacher to log in)
- 6m Direct to schools for action learning projects, relief and professional learning specific to DERNSW (this is in addition to existing PL budgets) for the 09/10 year
- 2.3m to Regions to support schools for the 09/10 year
- First roll out of teacher laptops was as far away from students laptops as we could possibly make it (without federal political imperative would have been longer) with a another teacher roll out this year.

The program delivering this is lead by a School Educational Director and comprised of Principals, Head Teachers and Teachers working very closely with IT. It goes without saying we have a very strong focus on teaching and learning.

For an educational perspective watch this: http://lrrpublic.cli.det.nsw.edu.au/lrrSecure/Cli/Download.aspx?resID=9186&v=1&preview=true

Ben

Me:

@Ben Thanks for posting the links to the work being done by the NSW Govt. I’ve taken a look and can see that a lot of time and effort has gone into this. My concern is that teachers aren’t learning how to develop Personal Learning Networks for themselves and making the connections with other educators who are on the same learning curve. To me, understanding the full potential of learning with laptops is understanding the connective environment that is enabled with this tool. It’s the people behind the screens who make learning interesting, and connecting with other educators and students can lead to very powerful learning opportunities. I may not have stumbled on it, but I didn’t see any reference or link to networks of educators like ‘The Future of Education Ning’ ‘Classroom 2.0 Ning’ The English Companion Ning’ etc or reference to Australian classroom practitioners who are writing about what they are doing in their classrooms to make experiences like this happen. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) We need our teachers to be able to find people they can talk to. They can do this by engaging in discussion threads on nings or leaving comments on blogs. They can experience the effectiveness of learning this way first hand if they realise these networks exist. It may well be they will have to be led to them. If they begin to understand they can learn this way then we will see teachers begin to understand how they can make opportunities like this possible for the students they teach.

Ben:

Jenny/Jim
You both raise similar issues, the PLNs both virtually and physically are being setup by the regions (we are 540+ schools across 801600sq/km this is not easily done centrally). The 10 regions are setting up networks and online collaboration spaces (mostly using Sharepoint or similar). The regions are running a variety of programs including KLA workshops, action learning projects, light house schools, technology leaders, etc. As in other big education systems around the world teachers use the tools available to them to develop their networks as they see fit.

An internal Blog tool is under trial now and will be rolled to all teachers and students that includes a media library and is integrated with our active directories so students and teachers can be added with ease. Following this roll out (a lot quicker as all the hardwork will be done) is a Wiki tool and an online collaboration tool similar to Google Docs called eBackpack giving students cloud based storage. (more info: https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/strat_direction/schools/ccp/index.htm)

For more detail on specific laptop pedagogy (the https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/proflearn/der/index.html is more focused at the school leadership level) this http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/digital_rev/leading_my_faculty/index.htm is a really powerful resource that focuses on the needs of key learning areas at the Teacher and Head Teacher Level.

Me:

@Ben Based on my experiences with Sharepoint, I’m figuring that hosting blogs and wikis in there will mean they are of a walled garden variety; locked to members only? This approach (if that is how it is going to work, and please, correct me if I am mistaken)goes against the kind of thinking displayed by thinkers like Stephen Heppell and Mark Pesce, both who feature as links for teachers to listen to in the NSWDET links you have posted. Where’s the opportunity for a global audience?

Ben hasn’t had the opportunity to reply as yet so I may find myself better informed tomorrow. If so, I will update this post. It’s an interesting discussion, and there are other comments in the thread on Wes Fryer’s post that you should take a look at.

So, that’s what’s been occupying my time. Connecting does take time, but the learning that happens fires those brain neurons.

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Working together 2 make a difference finds its way into print

Buffalo_News_Life_-_Newspaper_article

What a nice surprise greeeted me via Skype this morning. Angela Stockman sent me the link to the above newspaper article about her daughter Laura and Working together 2 make a difference.

It was written by Sarah Hanson, a freshman at Alden High who is a member of the site. Sarah has captured the motivation of the site very well in her article and I want to thank her for identifying it as something worthy of sharing with a wider audience. My students are going to be thrilled to see some of their comments highlighted in the article.

Mike Fisher created a Wordle of the article and noted that it captured the intentions of the site really well in its representation. I couldn’t agree more.

Wordle_working_together_2_make_a_difference

If there is something that I hope is lasting from my foray into this online world, then I hope it is Working together 2 make a difference. I like the space; it is welcoming, supportive and has good intentions. If you haven’t been there, please visit and consider joining. You’ll find there passionate educators who have a desire to impart the value of service learning to their students.

Thank you Sarah for giving Working together 2 make a difference a profile that’s a little higher than what it had yesterday. It is very much appreciated.

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Gone Skypin’

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Wow. We had an amazing couple of days last week at my school using Skype to connect our students to the world.

First stop was Buffalo, New York, when Laura Stockman skyped into our Grade 5 class. They were learning about her good works because they have been doing some themselves . Our Junior School last week raised $2,700 to help victims of the bushfires. I was just going to refer to Laura’s site and Working together 2 make a difference, but Angela Stockman was on Twitter and suggested that Laura could Skype in.

The Grade 5 students were amazed that someone from New York State was looking at them and answering their questions. It has given them a real boost as they think about what they may be able to do to make a difference. Glenn, their teacher was thrilled and went on to discuss it with his staff at their staff meeting.

Stop 2. Hiram Cuevas organised for his school, St. Christopher’s in Virginia, to Skype with our students and staff about the bushfire situation here in Victoria. This was initiated because St. Christopher’s has committed to doing something in response to the crisis. We set up the call and arranged for student and staff representatives to take part with both of us using webcams to enable us to see one another. It was a great connection (thank goodness!) and a very powerful half an hour that we spent together. Hiram wanted his students to have a connection with people living in the State of Victoria so that his students could have some sense of the tragedy.  Our school receptionist, Chantal, lost a house in the Kinglake fire and was able to convey her sense of loss and resulting experiences.

Hiram ustreamed the session and apparently we had 71 viewers at one stage. Amazing. All parties benefited enormously from this connection. Our staff and students were touched by the care and compassion reaching our from a school thousands of miles away. Hiram’s school is a member of our international PLP cohort; the learning is proving to be a rich experience for us all.

Stop 3: Same day, different time. Amanda Ritter organised for our students to participate in Matt Montagne’s student run podcast, Gator Radio. Matt put out a call on Twitter for Australian schools who could skype in for a question/answer session about the Victorian Bushfires.  Our students were thrilled to be ‘on air’ and were marvelling at the end of the day about how great these experiences were.

Next stop is Tuesday morning for me. I’m skyping into Lisa Parisi’s Global Awareness Club. This is a group of Grade 5 students and the question I’m dealing with is ‘Why is it important to have a global perspective?’ or words to that effect. I’m looking forward to it.

Skype is such a powerful tool for making connections. With a webcam you can really enable your students to feel like they’re somewhere else. Who knows how this kind of connective experience will look in the future? Something like Cisco’s Telepresence technology could really make us feel like we are in the same room. I’d love to give that a go. If you’re listening Cisco, I’m willing and able and I bet I could line a few students up who’d be in like a shot too!

    

 

  

   

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Special things happening….

A little while ago I was encouraging educators to join us on Working together 2 make a difference and support the bushfire relief effort. I am so pleased to let you know that some very special things are happening on that site. Our membership has grown and we have seen the service learning efforts of educators and students from many different parts of the world.

I just had to highlight a couple of special moments from the last couple of days. Bill Ferriter from North Carolina (I hope I’m right there Bill!) has quietly been working away with his grade six students and posted this;

One of the things that I’m proud of is that my sixth grade students are really aware of the world around them. With the help of my buddy, Mike Hutchinson, I’ve developed a daily current event lesson that ties together our social studies and language arts curriculum nicely.

Better yet, it’s a lesson that my kids embrace completely because they love knowing more about the world around them. Every year when I survey my students, current events is what they like the best about my class because it makes them feel important and knowledgeable when they’re sitting at the kitchen table with their parents.

So when the Austrailian brush fires started, my students were consumed by the news. Watching video of fire streaming through neighborhoods and destroying cars was heartbreaking for them. We talked about how similar the devastation was to the scenes after Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans—and we talked about how we might be able to help from a thousand miles away.

Our solution was simple: We decided to try to earn $5.00 a piece to donate to the Red Cross disaster relief fund. We picked $5.00 because it represented one good paperback book—-something that we value greatly. The thought that we might be able to help replace destroyed classroom libraries was really quite cool to our kids.

Over the course of two weeks, we ended up raising $245—-$110 of which came from an impromptu rose sale on Valentines Day that started when one of our students showed up with 150 roses to sell.

But more importantly, we ended up feeling good because we knew that we’d helped out!

Now, on to our next project—Do Something Funny for Money Day:

http://snipurl.com/funny4money     

My reply was this;

Bill, please convey to your students how touched we are by their generosity. It warms my heart and I’m sure the hearts of others to know that students from so far away can sympathise and relate to a tragedy many miles from them. Today was our National Day of Mourning for what has come to be known as Black Saturday here in Australia. Healing has begun, but we are still a long way from recovery. Knowing Grade 6 students from the United States have reached out to us is one of the steps to aid in the healing process.

Then tonight when I visited I discovered a new member, Carolyn Wojtera  (from Virginia) and a photostory her Grade 1 students had made in response to the crisis;

I feel so good about Working together 2 make a difference and I know Angela and Laura do too. Our community is definitely forming  – we would love to see you there too.

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Service learning = responsible teaching. Join Working together 2 make a difference.

working_together_2_make_a_difference

There are some things you do because you have to, and there are some things you do because they’re important.  Working together 2 make a difference is something I do because it’s important. I don’t do it alone. I work with Angela and Laura Stockman from New York State who believe in it just as much as I do.   

But we’d like to see it grow. We have 44 members currently from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States , but we’d  love to see our reach extend to more participants from all corners of the globe. Angela sums up what we’re looking for with this;

We’re eager to encourage membership and make this space valuable to those who join, but I don’t think that any of us wants to have more of a presence in this space than any other member. We truly want to encourage collaboration and meaningful participation. In short, we WANT people to WANT to be there.

Take a look at Mike Poluk’s page. Here’s a teacher from Canada inspiring his yr 5 students to do something positive. Teenager Sarah Hanson has got behind us and has written an article that will be published in a WNY newspaper in the near future. Helen Page has done great things with Year 9 students from her public school here in Australia. Amanda Ritter is embarking on her efforts and is embedding it into curriculum. All of  these examples inspire me to encourage and support the students I teach in their efforts.   

I don’t  know if you’ve ever done something that makes a difference to the lives of others. It is truly something to experience that feeling of giving and it’s a feeling we need to allow our students to experience. Join the site and do something within your school community that will help out others in need. You’ll feel good, your kids will feel good and you’ll be making a difference.

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Blog Action Day 2008 – Poverty

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Today is Blog Action Day. There are 10,300 Sites participating and these sites have 11,048,452 RSS Readers. That’s a pretty impressive readership. Hopefully these readers will take something away that they can share with others to spread the message even further. Here’s what it’s all about;

What is Blog Action Day?

Today thousands of bloggers will unite to discuss a single issue – poverty. We aim to raise awareness, initiate action and to shake the web!

I thought I’d talk about poverty, but in a bit of a different light. I thought I’d talk about poverty of spirit.

Sometimes I think we get too caught up in thinking about what we want. We focus on the materialistic aspects of our lives and let our spirits starve. We build our wealth but let our moral compass go astray. Sometimes we just need to get a focus on what really matters and get perspective back in our lives.

Recently I wrote about Working together 2 make a difference, the ning site I set up with Angela and Laura Stockman, in the hope that we could get educators to join and share their experiences of trying to make a difference by doing something positive to support their local or wider communities. To date, there are 22 members. I’ve set up a page under my name to chronicle what the students at my school are doing this term to make a difference. Our Yr 7 students have decided to raise funds by doing good deeds in their own time. They are going to donate their earnings to the Menzies organisation, a local not for profit organisation that assists children who can no longer live with their families. The other organisation they are raising money for is Cheerful Givers, a not for profit organisation who,

“provide toy-filled birthday gift bags to food shelves and shelters so that parents living in poverty can give their child a birthday gift.”  

This is an organisation that Laura has been supporting and our students would like to support Laura’s efforts.  

We’re hoping the ning becomes a site where people do chronicle what they are doing to make a difference. It’s like what we say on our front page, we would like to see what the sum total of all of us can achieve. Angela has written about Laura’s feelings about this initiative and her words are worth quoting here;

“…Laura would rather invest herself in the work of this new online community, because she is realizing that it has the potential to accomplish what her blog cannot: it can bring people together who want to do good things simply because they can and simply because it offers them a connection to those who share their values, not because there are other rewards attached to it.

We’re hoping that other students and teachers will get involved there. Please consider doing so if you haven’t yet. We’re looking for more than mere readers, and Laura is looking forward to meeting others who are interested in giving HER less attention and the WORK OF THE PROJECT more.”

Hopefully the site will become a true reflection of the good intentions of the members who have chosen to participate. If we do see people chronicling their efforts to do something good we’ll be doing something to enrich the lives of others. 

We’ll all be the richer for it, but not in the materialistic sense.

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Working together 2 make a difference – inspired by Laura.

Recently I said that I wasn’t going to write a post unless I thought I had something to write about that I thought was useful.  Well, today I’m writing about something that I think is useful. Better than that, it’s helpful to others less fortunate than ourselves. And that, to me, is important.

Throughout the year I’ve been inspired by 11 yr old Laura Stockman, who has been writing a blog called 25 days to make a difference. Laura writes about how she goes about raising money for charity organisations she and her readers decide are worthy of support.  It’s not massive amounts of money we’re talking about here, it’s small but significant amounts from a young woman who engages in activities like bake sales and lemonade stands to raise funds that will make a difference for others. 

Small, but significant.

Laura skyped into my classroom a couple of months ago to talk to my students about what she does. She made an impact. They are still talking about Laura and want to know what they can do too. Talking with Laura has meant I’ve established a friendship across the waves with her Mum, Angela (Angela is a very responsible parent and makes sure she supervises Laura’s online connections – She’s in New York State and I’m in Melbourne, Australia ). Over the last couple of months Angela and I have been mulling over ideas about how we and other educators can make a difference in the same vein as Laura’s inspirational efforts. That leads me to the point of this post.

Angela and I, inspired by Laura, have created a ning site, Working together 2 make a difference, to support educators to make a difference for others less fortunate than themselves in the lead up to the festive season. The ning site will work as a collaborative space to allow educators to share the efforts of their classes. Here’s what we say on our main page;

As educators, we try to encourage our students to see past themselves and take a wider world view. Depending on many factors, that can be relatively easy, or relatively hard. As we approach the festive season for many cultures, an opportunity presents for us to have a means of working together in a collaborative fashion to have our students realise that their efforts can be far reaching and effect others.

11 Year old Laura Stockman has been a source of inspiration for many throughout 2008. Her blog, 25 days to make a difference has detailed her efforts to raise funds for various charity organisations throughout the year. She has had over 38,000 hits on her blog and has received media attention for her efforts. Now it’s time to let Laura know how her efforts have inspired others to do the same.

The aim of this space is to detail the efforts of educators and their students who are doing their bit to think outside of themselves and raise funds for worthy causes. We encourage you to join this space, create a new page for your school and start detailing what you and your students are aiming to do to help others less fortunate than yourselves. Chart your progress on your page and we’ll see what we can achieve by working together to make a difference.

DECEMBER 15TH 2008 is the date we are targeting for completion of the collaborative project. So, get to it. Rally your troops, start thinking about bake sales or car washes, identify a worthy cause and set your page up.

Laura has shown us that one person can make a difference. Let’s see what the sum total of all of us working together can achieve.

If you’ve been thinking about joining a global project but are daunted by the prospect, consider giving this a go. There is a definite timeline, you can work within the boundaries of your school but contribute to a greater cause, and you can connect with other schools who join this effort. We should be able to foster connective opportunities within this community that can get our kids understanding that the sum total of many working together can effect great change.  

Thanks Laura for providing the inspiration.  And thanks Angela  – all those emails and tweets have been worth it.

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Skyping with Laura.

Today in my Yr 7 class we were involved in a Skype call with the inspirational Laura Stockman from Buffalo, New York. That’s Laura above with the special care packs she has put together for Cheerful Givers, one of the charities she has been supporting. (I hope you don’t mind me using your picture Laura – if you do please let me know and I’ll take it off) It wasn’t all smooth going – our connection was a little scratchy and it dropped out a couple of times but we ended up with a pretty good link towards the end. We were using a webcam but I don’t think Laura could see us. We couldn’t see her either, but no mind. My students asked questions about her blogging experiences and a lot of general ones as well. It’s fascinating to see them react when they realise that they have the same tastes in music and leisure activities in spite of the distance between us. This global platform is a chance for us all to understand that we probably share more in common than we would otherwise realise.

A standout moment was when my students sang our National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair, to Laura and her mum Angela who was helping her with the call. They both got a kick out of it but declined to sing theirs for us! We did have a large chorus and there was only the two of them – perfectly understandable!

Hopefully we’ll be able to maintain the connection and work with Laura towards raising money for a global cause. This to me is a fabulous learning opportunity for my students. We have the ability to learn from an inspirational 11 yr old who is a role model for us all, we can make meaningful connections with a global partner and we can do good along the way.  All positives as far as I can see!  

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Laura Stockman – inspiring others across the waves.

Sunday morning I was grazing through my Google reader, kicking back and hoping I’d find something that would inspire me to write. I found something better than that, I found something that inspired me to act. 

I checked out Will Richardson’s latest post and discovered Laura Stockman, an 11yr old from New York who has been writing a blog called Twenty five days to make a difference.  Laura’s mother Angela was involved with Will and Sheryl Nussbaum Beach’s PLP cohort and Laura was inspired to write a blog as a result of this. Her blog was written in honour of her grandfather and Laura has set about performing good deeds with the resulting donations going toward charity.  Laura’s blog has moved beyond the initial 25 day target, largely because Laura has felt empowered by what this experience has meant for her.

Angela has written a very moving post about Laura’s presentation to the PLP cohort last week. Here’s what she said about her discussion with Laura when she decided to continue beyond 25 days;

You know, when Laura decided her blog was going to be more than a twenty five day experience, I questioned her decision.

“There are all sorts of things that we haven’t thought about. This is going to require a ton of effort on your part. It’s going to require a huge commitment,” I said. “It might not work.”

“Oh, it’ll work fine,” she told me. “It’ll work because I want it to work. “

Laura gets it. She already knows that it’s self motivation and belief that can drive you forward. Some of us don’t get this until we’ve had a fair bit of life experience, if we ever get it at all. Here’s an 11 yr old teaching us how to navigate life.

I went to Laura’s blog and read through quite a bit of it. I was so impressed by the essential good in what she was doing. She wasn’t raising millions, but she was performing simple, honest tasks that were contributing to the greater good. She’d recently Skyped into a classroom in Florida and was disappointed that the kids couldn’t see her as she didn’t have a webcam.  In a blog post that followed she recounted how Skype had sent her a webcam so that others would be able to see her when she made calls. She posed this question in her post;

Is anyone else out there interested in doing this? I really enjoy blogging and Skyping about blogging and ways that kids can make a difference. This is really cool. 

This was my answer;

Hi Laura,
The students at my school in Melbourne, Australia would love to have you Skype into our classroom. Time differences between our countries is a bit of a problem. It may well be you would have to Skype in in the evening. If you are interested you can email me at jenny.luca1@gmail.com. We raise money for local and international charities at the end of our school year and your story would be inspirational for them.

Laura replied with enthusism;

Hi Ms. Luca!

I would LOVE to do a skype chat with you! My dad and mom are really excited about this too! I’ve never met anyone from Australia before! I can definitely do this in the evening. Please just let me know what works for you and your class. Thank you so much for this invitation!!!!

My class is responding with just as much enthusiasm as Laura. They’re posting comments on her blog and already we’ve been discussing what we can do to help Laura and her charitable efforts. She is going to Skype into our classroom next Wednesday morning our time (evening her time) and my class can hardly wait. Already Laura ia extending her reach globally and her 25 days project looks set to ignite action all the way to Australia.

I’ve been in email contact with Angela and we both feel that this has potential to become a global project. Will’s post has drawn people to Laura’s blog, and other educators from differing countries are keen to learn from Laura. Maybe, just maybe, we can find a way to work together to make an impact for a global cause. What a potential learning experience for our students this could be. Angela’s words from her post are important here;

If I’ve learned nothing else this year, it’s been precisely that: when we are truly committed to making something happen, it happens. It doesn’t matter who or what might be standing in our way. If the goal means something to us in the end, we don’t let our fear or our lack of resources or the politics of a situation or our bruised egos stand in the way. We just make things work. Because it matters, this work that we do, and it’s bigger than the credit that anyone could receive or the mistakes that might be made along the way.

What an amazing affirmation for a young girl with a desire to make a difference in honour of her grandfather.   

Thanks Laura. You are an inspiration. 

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