My rare privilege

I have enjoyed a rare privilege over the last six years, and now it has come to an end.

My daughter has just completed her education at the school where I work. For the last six years I’ve been able to participate in her education in a way that is not afforded to most parents. I’ve shared a ride to work nearly every morning and many afternoons been there for the return journey too. I’ve been there to share the experience of school assemblies, camp experiences, sports days, house events, and even taught lessons where she has been a participant.

Like I said, it’s been a rare privilege. I know intimately the spaces she’s inhabited and we share memories of school life that we can fondly recall together in the years to come. I may even be able to return for her school reunions, because, after all, I’ll have a legitimate reason to be there too.

I thought her leaving would be easy, just another day, something that wouldn’t affect me all that much. But as I stood in their final Valedictory assembly last week, the opening words of the school song finally took on their true meaning and I found myself unable to sing, tears pouring down my cheeks.

They of the school before us

Now tread the wider ways

Their thoughts to her returning

Who ordered once their days

I suppose most parents feel the same about their children leaving school – it’s a rite of passage and denotes the end of a stage of your life. For me, it’s a little different. I think I’m going to spend the next year experiencing that strange series of ‘firsts’ at my place of work. First day travelling there without her, first event where she’s not a presence, and on and on.

I’m going to miss you Cassidy. I hope my rare privilege was something that you will reflect on warmly in years to come too.

Rives responds – real life digital literacy

Recently, I posted about my daughter Cassidy’s emoticon story that she completed for an English project. It was inspired by the poet Rives, who delivered ‘A Story of Mixed Emoticons‘ at TED 2008. While I was looking at Rives’ blog, I noticed that he provided an email address where you could contact him. So contact him I did.

While I was waiting for a flight to LAX, I received an email from Rives. He was directing me to his latest post, where he had featured Cassidy’s own emoticon story. Here’s what was in his post (Cassidy’s video was embedded at the top of the post);

Hi Rives, I’m a teacher from Melbourne, Australia. We have being doing a thematic study of Romance and Relationships and have used your ‘Story of mixed emoticons’ in our classes to help with this. The students had to produce a creative task using technology in response to the theme. My daughter attends the school and her response was inspired by your mixed emoticons story. Just thought you might like to know that you are inspiring people all over the world, –J

[J is referring to the emoticon piece that I performed at TED 2008. Incidentally, my piece always ends with a hot & sexy music cue (“Laid” by the band James) which TED didn’t have the rights to so…they left it out. The result is much flatter than I like and it also seems to make the deliberately ambiguous ending even more ambiguous: does the emoticon couple get together? I say they do; J’s daughter, in her charming, flattering version, seems to take the other side of the dollar. Which in Australia is a coin.]

How cool is this! Please visit Rives’ blog to see for yourself.

What’s even cooler is the fact that Cass is able to see for herself the power of a connected Web. She’s watching the stats grow on her YouTube video and knows that it’s because Rives’ post is driving traffic there. Her simple, (charming!) video project has an audience and is finding its way to far more people than it would if she had kept it on her computer hard-drive and shared it with just her teacher. Cass got a ‘B’ for this project. Do you think that really matters in the scheme of things? Look at the learning that has taken place outside of the structures of school. She knows what can happen if you decide to take the plunge and share your work with the world. She knows that you can reach out and connect to the people who influence you, and sometimes they just might sit up and take notice. She knows that her positive digital footprint is growing as a result of this. She has learned skills that are important in the world we live in today.

At ISTE2010, having students establish a positive digital footprint was a theme I heard over and over again in sessions I attended. I also heard many teachers talking of school structures that prevented them from posting student content publicly and using student’s names on the Web. Hopefully, a story like this will help teachers work with their administrations to convince them that we need to assist and support our students to share their good work in public spaces.We need to help them grow their digital footprint in a positive way.

Cass is lucky. She has a mother who understands the Web and can support her with her learning. Many of the students we teach have parents who don’t understand the workings of the Web. It’s imperative that we as teachers avail ourselves of knowledge and help our students develop digital literacy understanding, in all its forms.

Thanks Rives, for taking the time to acknowledge my daughter’s work. : )

A story about longing, loving, and coming to a realisation

I am one very proud mother tonight. This is the work of my beautiful daughter; it’s her multimodal creative response for an English assignment based around the theme of ‘Romance and Relationships’. It’s all her own work, inspired by the poet Rives and his ‘Story of mixed emoticons‘ that we used as stimulus material in our English classes.

My response when I saw it was, “That’s going straight to YouTube”. It’s a pretty impressive addition to her digital footprint in my view. She’s definitely a product of her upbringing, of this I have no doubt!!