Clay’s been working hard (and so have my students).

Clay Burell has posted;

Podcast: Three Schools Discover the 21st Century!

the podcast he recorded a couple of weeks ago now that involved participants from Korea, the USA and Australia. Of course, the Australian component was me, my Principal, Noel Thomas and Lara, a student from our school. It was a very exciting podcast to be a part of and I’d like to thank Clay for the effort involved in putting it together. Go to Clay’s blog ‘Beyond School’ and follow the links to download it or listen to it from his site. He gives a very good precis of what it is all about;

Creative Destruction Abundant

What walls don’t come down in this hour-long talk? Bye-bye edu-caste system, bye-bye geographic and temporal barriers. My guests are from three continents and four levels of school hierarchy:

  • High School Principal Noel Thomas, Toorak College, Melbourne, Australia
  • High School Principal (and next year’s Director) Rich Boerner, Korea International School, Seoul, South Korea (my employer)
  • Librarian Jenny Luca, Toorak College, Melbourne
  • Lara H., high school student, Toorak College
  • Lindsea Kemp-Wilber, Punahou High School student (and Students 2.o staff writer), Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
  • and me, high school teacher and tool-guy, Korea International School

I’d also like to publicly thank Clay for the support he has given to me over the past month. He is very generous with his time and has been more than willing to guide and mentor. I’ve seen him via a webcam and I can read that expression on his face when he sees me fumbling with technology – I’m the first to admit that I don’t know everything and need quite a bit of support when trying out new things, but I am learning! That’s what this is all about, isn’t it?   

My students have also been working very hard on getting Project Global Cooling (the project that led to my links with Clay) off the ground here in Melbourne, Australia. Over 30 Yr 9 girls have taken up the challenge and we have a concert organised for April 19th, to coincide with concerts in Seoul and Honululu. Mark Seymour (from Hunters and Collectors) will be appearing, as will bands White Summer and Modern Radio. The girls have been busy organising fundraisers at school to help pay for concert running costs and have been exploring publicity and ways to make the concert run in an energy efficient manner, in keeping with our aim of raising awareness about issues concerning sustainability of our planet. A local newspaper came to the school while I was on camp last week to interview the girls about what they are doing- according to a staff member who was present they were incredibly articulate in explaining the motivation behind our planned concert. This should appear in the paper next week – I’ll make sure I post about it. They have also been investigating ways in which our school can make changes to reduce our carbon footprint. I’m incredibly proud of these girls and all they are doing. None of this is part of the actual school curriculum as such – everything is being done in their own time and they are proving to be incredible networkers – they’re on a steep learning curve and some amazing learning is taking place. We’re on a school holiday break at the moment – they have committed to coming into school over the break to keep momentum going – they are inspiring.

Podcasting with Clay Burrel!

Wow – things can move really fast in this world. Last week I was writing about why I began writing this blog and why I think that blogging and making connections is an important tool for students’ learning. I did this for a staff PD session and thought no-one in the wider world would be interested. That post and the resultant interest led directly to a Skype conference call tonight with Clay Burrel, his Principal, my Principal, Lindsea (from the Global Cooling project and Students 2.0), and a student from my school. Clay recorded it as a podcast and is going to be posting it on his blog, Beyond School, in the near future.

The discussion ranged from the Global Cooling project to why we would want to encourage our students to use this medium to connect to how we can further our connections. Clay’s school is in Seoul, Korea and we are in Melbourne, Australia. Our time zones are complimentary (2 hours ahead in Aust.) and we could explore possibilities enabling our students to work together in the course of the school day.  

I’m wondering how the student from my school is feeling now – her head is spinning I bet and she’ll probably find it hard to get to sleep with the world that has just been opened up to her. She knew nothing of this until 8.00pm tonight when I knocked on her door (she lives quite close) and asked her if she would like to be involved in the conversation. I took her through some background re the project and Lindsea’s and Clay’s blogs. She’s a real go getter with a passion for the environment and I think she will want to run with things as a result of tonight.

Her head is probably spinning and I know mine is. I was thinking today of where this might be taking me and my school and I was reminded of the film Parenthood. At the end of the movie the Grandmother who everyone thinks has dementia talks to Steve Martin’s character about riding the rollercoaster. She’s making the analogy that life is a rollercoaster and you just have to ride it and enjoy it – there’s no point getting hung up and anxious about it.  Thinking about these connections and where it may take me and my students makes me excited but anxious too. There are times when I fear the rollercoaster and I get that knotted stomach worrying if I’m up to it – I’m going to have to leave that behind and enjoy the ride. I think it’s going to be a good one!

Network power

I was exhausted last night when I finished writing yesterday’s post. Had about six hours sleep then had to get up early to take one of my kids to an early morning swim session. Arrived very early at work and logged on to check out the blog traffic. Wasn’t expecting much; who would be interested in reading about why I decided to start writing a blog and why I think it’s important to get our students learning in this environment.

Well, one look at my blog stats suggested otherwise! Last night’s post generated more traffic than I’ve ever had before. John Connell was kind enough to leave a comment and in a subsequent email said that he thinks a post like that resonates as it reminds bloggers about why they do what they do. Vicki Davis gave me some analogies she uses to describe the differences between wikis and blogs;

“I like to think of wikis as the collection and the blog as the album. Wikis as a chorus and a blog as a solo. Wikis for fact and blogs for opinion and voice. I think that both are needed as we try to teach both collaborators and individualistic thinker/inventors.”

Thanks Vicki. I used this in the afternoon PD session with my fellow staff – one participant read this and said, “That’s perfect, now I understand the difference. I was too embarrassed to ask before.” I think this is something we need to be very mindful of. During the session I was referring to plugins and widgets and had to clarify with the staff that this terminology has become familiar to me because I work with it now. It’s become relevant to me  – another example of how we learn best – when something has meaning for us we take it in, understand it and apply it to our needs.

My colleagues seemed interested and I got a round of applause at the end so that must mean something. One of our Heads of Year is keen to get involved in the Global Cooling project and sent me an email during the presentation so hopefully we’ll be able to get on board and have our students feeling empowered and making a difference.

Thanks network – being able to show my staff the huge spike in my blog stats and the cluster map locations were two of the most effective moments in the presentation. I think people could see that the world really is becoming flatter and we could be exploring possibilities for our students to operate in and learn from this collaborative network. I’ll wait and see if the seed planted today bears fruit.