Join us to work together 2 make a difference for fire ravaged Victoria.

A street...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Yesterday I posted about the natural disaster that has ravaged the Victorian countryside. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach read my post and offered to help in any way she could. My good friend Angela Stockman, who I collaborate with on Working together 2 make a difference,  also wanted to know what she could do to help. Here we have two Americans reaching out to assist those in a country very distant from their own. Why do they want to help? Firstly no doubt, because they are sensitive people with a desire to assist their fellow citizens of the world. Perhaps they are motivated also because they have formed connections through these networks we are working in and feel a link to a country far from their own.

Sheryl spoke with me tonight and has commited to help me, Angela and other educators who may wish to join us, to do whatever it is we can to raise funds to support those in need. The Red Cross has coordinated a fundraising effort here in Australia. What we are encouraging you to do is to join Working together 2 make a difference  and post your efforts there. We will set up a paypal account that will direct the monies you raise to the Red Cross appeal.  Here’s what I’ve posted on the Working together 2 make a difference site to enocurage participation;       

Victoria, the State I live in in Australia, has been hit by a tragic natural disaster that is affecting the lives of many of our country communities. On Saturday the 7th of Feb., bushfires, fanned by fierce northerly winds in 46 degree celcius temperatures, ravaged our countryside, leading to the deaths of 173 people. This figure is http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/10/2487517.htm?section=australia”>expected to rise to over 200 in the coming days as they gain access to affected areas and search homes. Native animals, livestock and family pets were other victims of this disaster.

So how can we all make a difference? We would love to see our education community from near and far band together to support the communities in need. What is needed is money to help schools rebuild, families rebuild their lost homes and for communities to build the infrastructure needed that has been lost in these fires.

What can you do?  Anything that will help your students to understand the need to help others when the situation is dire. Be it a sausage sizzle, free dress day, bake sale, whatever it takes to raise a few dollars that can be used to support others. In the next few days, with the help of Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and some wisdom fron Clarence Fisher, we’ll be setting up a paypal account to direct funds you raise to the Red Cross appeal that has been set up to support those affected. Create a page here and let us know your plans. We can support one another and link our schools to a common cause. Let’s show the world how the education community can use the tools at our disposal to connect and support one another for a common purpose.     

So, wherever you are in the world, think about helping out those in need here in Australia. And let’s see just how small our world really is when we connect using these tools for the common good.

 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Screentoaster – screencasts made easy.

Tonight I’ve been practising with Screentoaster, a screencast application that is still in beta. I had to apply for an invitation but that was no hassle. It came through within 15 minutes. It is very easy to use. I watched the demo video and had it sorted pretty quickly.

You press start recording and Screentoaster will load. You can record either full screen or a specific part of the screen by following simple instructions. It doesn’t record voice in the initial capture but you can add audio or text in the preview stage. Your screencast is stored on their server and you can share the url or embed the screencast into your site. I’m hoping it will load here. I’m having to use wordpress’ post video to your blog’ option using vodpod to get it in here. I’m not good with html code embeds so I do hope this option works as it would be great for you to see what it looks like.

Jane Hart listed Screentoast as one of her predictions for Top Tools in 2009. Check out her list; it’s well worth the look.

Vodpod videos no longer available.  

more about “Screentoast – screencasts made easy. “, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Working together 2 make a difference – growing legs.

I’ve written before about the ning site Working together 2 make a difference that I set up with Angela and Laura Stockman. It’s been slow to get started but is starting to grow some legs. Originally we had decided that we would run it until mid December, but we now feel it is worthy of continuation. We see it as a place where educators and students can come together and share what they are doing in their community to make some sort of difference. Our hope is that it will become a place where community can form and links across classrooms can be made.

A friend of mine from a neighbouring school has joined and I was thrilled to see one of her students  create a page. Here is what she posted;  

I love animals and since you are all such wonderful people I was wondering if you could help? The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily and they don’t have enough food to donate to abused and neglected animals. It takes less than a minute (about 20 seconds) to go to their site and click on the purple box ‘fund food for animals’ for free. This doesn’t cost you a thing. Their advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising.

Here’s the web site! Pass it along to people you know.
http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/

 

Here’s a student who can recognise the potential of this medium to effect change. Did I click the link and click the purple box? You betcha. I encourage you to do the same. Better still, visit her page , click the link and leave an encouraging comment.

You should also visit Laura’s blog and follow her as she tells us who she is grateful and thankful for in the lead up to Christmas. We should take a leaf out of her book and do the same for those who support us.

So readers, I am thankful for you. Thanks for taking the time to stick around and comment occasionally. My life is enriched as a result.

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.

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.