Those of you who have been following along with my recent Blog posts know how inspired, recharged and excited I am about my recent trip to Prague to attend the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum. It was an amazing, life-changing event for me but the real question is how do I translate what I learned and experienced into worthwhile learning experiences for my students?
Having spent time with educational leaders and policy-makers from over 70 countries I want to ensure that I strengthen the connections I made and utilize the pool of expertise I was so fortunate enough to swim in. I am so happy that I had the chance to meet and talk with Lisa Neilsen author of the Innovative Educator and seasoned public school educator who has worked for more than a decade in various capacities. Lisa writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about the future of education and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” and "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. She was kind enough to Skype with my students upon my return and share with them her ideas about how they can expand their Doing Business in Birmingham project with a Facebook page.
After having a Kinect in my classroom for two weeks as part of the free trial Kinect Program I know I have much to learn about how to harness the level of enthusiasm the kids have for this device. The US contingency in Prague included several teachers who have been working with Kinect in the classroom for a while to good effect. I will be sure to be following up with Cheryl Arnett, Joli Barker and Adina Pope to help me learn more about how to add Kinect to my tool belt of successful learning technologies. I am also excited to be currently engaged in conversations with several of the talented educators I met at the forum about how we can connect our students in ways that empower them to become powerful global agents of change.
The tag line of the forum was, “Your ideas matter.” My main priority is ensuring that this message is communicated to my students. I asked my kids how they would like to celebrate their success and instead of a regular party, they saw an opportunity to further awareness about their project. They have organized a forum like event for tomorrow night, recognizing the local businesses that made it on to their Honor Roll, appreciating the students who started the project last year and inviting other local businesses to showcase their sustainable practices. They will be handing out awards and certificates and we are thrilled to have closing comments via Skype from Andrew Ko, Senior Director of Partners in Learning, Microsoft. I have never been prouder of my students. If the three days of instruction I missed while attending the forum can be used to help even one child understand and internalize the notion that their ideas matter and that they themselves matter then they will have been three days well spent.
Given the recent school related tragic events in Connecticut, I have spent much time this weekend wondering if such a celebration is appropriate. But I have come to the conclusion that there is, in fact, no better time for our community to come together to embrace our children, celebrate them, cherish them, love them and let them know that they are safe, that they make a difference and that they matter. Tomorrow will provide us all with the opportunity to remember that the world really is a great place to be.