Last year, our school came into a little grant money, given in honor of an outstanding fifth grade teacher, Neepa Shah. My principal asked me to think of an effective way to spend that money. I emailed my friend and co-editor of MidLink Magazine, Joselyn Todd, asking for her for some help. Here is what she said:
“...The most lasting impact that this money could buy would be professional development to help your teachers take it to the next level in terms of their tech skills such that they could guide students in innovative project based work rooted in sound content. Joselyn's idea: hire someone to come in and teach your teachers some Web 2.0 technologies (with very practical “lesson plans”) that they can immediately implement in the classroom with the equipment that the school already has...Give the gift of a nudge in the direction of life-long learning to those educators who are in the “middle” of the tech skill continuum such that they can “pay it forward” to their students. Hundreds of students learning new tech skills by enthused and invigorated teachers would have very long lasting impact at your school.”"
Through MidLink, I had the good fortune to meet David Warlick on a couple of occasions down in Raleigh, NC. I immediately thought of him, sent him an email, and LUCKY for us, he came to NY and spent a day with a group teachers at my school. Besides teaching us how to "say grits" - (for you New Yorkers, it's "greee-its"), he taught us how to podcast and "invigorated us" with conversations about new literacies and possibilities. Not long after that visit, I had many of my students podcasting ... and well, since David's visit, the floodgates have opened in terms of my own professional growth in the area of Web 2.0.
Anyway, two weeks ago I started four classes blogging on Class Blogmeister, after introducing blogging to my fourth and fifth grade classes byway of a paper blogging lesson, co-taught with my friend and hallway neighbor, fourth grade teacher, Adam Dugger. We introduced the idea of writing for an audience, of private information vs. public information, of appropriate language, and of constructive criticism. The lesson called for students to write a passage describing a favorite food; others in the class had a chance to leave constructive comments by writing them on post-its. The lesson worked so well that I decided to make a bulletin board out of it for Back to School Night. I racked my brains for a title for the bulletin board, and then it came to me: "Our 2 Cents Worth" - what a perfect 'pay it forward' moment! The David Warlick ripple effect.
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BTW - I am writing this as the Wisconsin Badgers beat Michigan State in a very exciting game AND The Mets won today (finally!). Yay!