Recently I wrote about Working together 2 make a difference, the Ning I help to run along with Angela Stockman and Mike Poluk. One of our new members, Rob Currin, from Alden, New York, has started a group called The Global Poetry Project. Here’s what Rob has written to explain the project and its motivations;
The Global Poetry Project aims to provide a space for members to expand upon their cultural views through the writing and reading of poetry. Members should feel free to submit poems and share thoughts and feedback with fellow poets. The project aims to provide a positive and open atmosphere for all visitors and contributors alike.
Each month a new theme will be presented. Feel free to address this theme and share some original poetry that relates. Contributors are not to be judged on their poetry. This is simply a place to share and grow through original poetry.
As this space begins to grow, we are hoping to receive poetry and feedback from writers all over the world. We will self-publish an anthology of this work with the permission of each writer included. This will eventually be sold, and all proceeds from this sale will be donated to a cause identified by the collective membership of Working Together to Make a Difference. We’re grateful to Angela Stockman for this suggestion and for her assistance in making this happen. We are excited to align our work within this group to the incredible mission of the Working Together to Make a Difference community! I’m looking forward to collaborating with Angela face-to-face and within this space as we take this project to press.
I’m so pleased to see a writing project that links to service learning. Angela Stockman has been instrumental in guiding Rob and helping the project connect to the purpose of Working together 2 make a difference. Hopefully teachers and students will find their way to the site and begin the process of creating, sharing and forging global links. If their writing can then work to contribute to worthy causes it makes it all the more meaningful.
The Northern Hemisphere school year is moving into full swing while we in the Southern Hemisphere are heading towards the end of our school year. It would be wonderful to see contributions come from all corners of our globe. I know that I will be promoting it in my school, but I also know that we are about to embark on our Beyond Boundaries camp program and on our return we head into serious exams and wind down. It may well be that we’ll have to gear up for involvement in our 2010 school year. Whatever transpires, it’s a project that holds promise and one that I encourage you to get involved in.
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.
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.
I love Ning. I really do.
I’m just not all that happy with them right now.
Those of you who follow this blog will know that I started a Ning for our Yr 9 English classes in February this year. It’s been fantastic. A true learning community has formed and it’s become embedded into the fabric of our Yr 9 curriculum. I’m loving the engagement that is possible and the way I can connect with students who aren’t in my actual class. Just tonight I was showing it to parents at our Parent Teacher night. All were impressed and could see the benefits to student learning that this environment promoted. I asked Ning to remove the ads before the students had even joined and they were happy to oblige.
I also help to run Working together 2 make a difference, a Ning site that encourages educators to come together to share their experiences with service learning projects. Once again, I asked Ning to remove the ads and once again, they were happy to oblige.
Last week I had a moment to savour. Yr 9 students who actively engage in our English Ning came to see me to see if I could help them set up a Ning for their Sleepout 4 Schools initiative. They’d figured out that Ning was the best platform for them to engage the wider community in what they are doing. Sleepout 4 Schools is a school project involving our Yr 9 students; they are holding a fundraiser for our school community on May 22nd in an attempt to raise some money for Daraja Academy and the Bal Ashram in India. The students are working very hard to plan an evening where we will sleepover at school, have fun, skype with Mark Lukach hopefully and raise some money that will help to make a difference.
We set the Ning up. They are working as administrators of the Ning as well and are excited about the possibilities. They are trying to engage other surrounding schools in this service learning and are using the Ning as a tool for connecting. I asked Ning to take the ads off.
They didn’t oblige.
And so began the email process of me asking (begging really) and them denying. Our most recent email correspondance saw me ask this;
Dear Ning team,
Sorry to continue to dispute this, but it is a direct part of our program and is a vital ingredient in the teaching of our students. We are endeavouring to have our students create positive digital footprints for themselves in safe and ethical ways. Having ads that display free video chats for girls is not what I feel is a good advertisement encouraging safe and ethical use. If you look at the domain names of the members they are all students from our school. We are trying to encourage global involvement with other schools to have them participate as well.
Can I please ask you to reconsider once again.
Reply from Ning was this;
Thanks for the follow-up. Once again, while we definitely respect what you’re doing, this simply isn’t covered by what our program is offering. You’re still welcome to purchase the Go Ad-Free premium service, and you can find more details here:
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to understand how Sleepout for Schools differs from the intentions of the Yr 9 English Ning and Working together 2 make a difference. It’s a school project, set up by and for students. It’s about EDUCATION.
Wikispaces and other Wiki creation companies are friendly to K – 12 education. You don’t have to request that ads be removed; they trust that if you tick that box saying it’s for K – 12 use it will be and a Wiki is provided ad free.
Ning is offering an amazing platform that can be utilised so well in education. Please, those of you making decisions at Ning, think about offering a service for education that will encourage users to explore its potential. We need an ad free service; one that won’t expose students to inappropriate ads that make it hard for us to justify the use of what is an excellent resource in school settings.
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:
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.
Today we had a planning afternoon for our PLP group at Toorak College. It was just what we needed. Time to talk things over, show one another what we have done, teach one another some new skills and contemplate what all this means for teaching and learning. It was great. By the end of the session there was a sense that we have purpose and direction.
Seeing people excited about possibilities enthuses me. One of our teachers has set up Artrak, a blog to showcase the talented students we have and to provide our girls with links and updates about happenings in the creative world that will interest them. Sue, who works with me, is excited about developing the libray blog, 2rak info 4 u. I was able to show people the dynamic environment our Yr 9 ning has become as four classrooms work together. Amanda has created a wiki supporting Business Studies and has introduced them to Working together 2 make a difference where the students are creating pages and building their digital footprints. There are other projects starting and our group is working towards supporting the efforts of one another. We are forming connections across our subject areas and classrooms.
My experience with Powerful Learning Practice has seen me benefit from the connections I have made with like minded educators who are active in our ning environment. People like our community leader, Darren Kuropatwa, Tania Sheko, Susan Carter Morgan, Carey Pohanka, Frances Manning, Alex Ragone, Jennifer Clark Evans, Amanda Ritter, Hiram Cuevas, Melanie Hutchinson, Adrian Camm, Rhonda Powling and others who value the sharing nature of the ning. It’s had a huge impact on my understanding of virtual learning communities and the power of the connections you make. Yes, it does take time but the rewards come in the form of support, encouragement and professional learning.
Our journey continues with PLP and we will see the impact it has on teacher adoption of new ideas as they are embedded into practice. Today was a good day. I’m hopeful of more to come.
This is ‘Facebook Song’ by Rhett and Link. Our school psychologist had me help her download it from Youtube this week for use with a Yr 11 class. (We used kickyoutube – it continues to impress everyone) They were looking at the idea of personal empires for their Art class. As well as being pretty amusing it’s quite good for developing class discussion about identity and behaviour online.
A cooler weekend here in Australia. Very welcome after last weekend and its devastating consequences. Hope yours is a good one.
*Just got this message on Twitter from Bill Ferriter.
Such kindness being expressed for our country from the international community of educators is overwhelming. Jen Wagner has let me know that donations are coming in for the bushfire appeal we are running through Working together 2 make a difference. Thank you all.
Our bushfire appeal on Working together 2 make a difference has received some help from unexpected quarters. Clarence Fisher and Jen Wagner, who coordinated an online effort in response to the Californian bushfires, have provided some sound advice about how to go about coordinating such an effort. Thanks go to Sheryl Nussbaum- Beach for directing them to me.
In fact, Jen has gone one step further. She has helped me set up a paypal button on the Working together 2 make a difference site and has offered to tally donations and keep track of contributors. Such generosity of spirit overwhelms me. It’s yet another example of the sharing nature of this network that makes it so special.
If you are so inclined, visit the site and make a donation through the paypal account set up by Jen. The money you donate will be redirected to the Red Cross appeal to aid those affected by this disaster. ALL the money will go there, be sure of that.