Wednesday, February 21, 2007

1001 Flat-World Tales Wiki -- An Update

The 1001 Tales Project is up and rollin'; it's been fascinating to Skype with Clay Burell and to collaborate with students on the other side of the globe. What's been interesting for me as a teacher has been the planning portion:

* How do I make connections with a teacher that is 16 hours ahead of me?

Clay and I have Skyped (his time 11:30pm or 4:30am!) We also email, discuss on the wiki, and blog. Even 6 months ago, I couldn't have imagined these opportunities or global involvement. Malaysia, Canada, and Hawaii have just joined, so we have running clocks posted on the wiki, not only for interest, but for our sanity. We now have 4-5 time zones to juggle in the midst of growing stacks of grading.

* How do I incorporate this plan in the midst of my Romeo and Juliet unit?

I have found that connecting this project with storytelling has worked well. I definitely would do this project by itself and then start R/J, but it's worked fairly well. I had to be flexible with my assignments and due dates. I have to change a deadline for Friday because my kids need to revise their story before Saturday, S. Korea time. I learned that my risk-taking equates and easy-going attitude. I have to be organized, but willing to change dates, lessons, and assignments to fit the student and project needs.

* How do share what I'm doing with other teachers and encourage them to join in?

This is a hard question for me to answer. I know that the CIT group has heard of the project and some teachers have asked me about it. I've appreciated the interest, but I also wish more teachers could and would get involved. Maybe next year, some more of our English 9 teachers will take the bait and give the project a whirl. What I realized that this global classroom creates is a sincere interest from the students (using technology creatively); creates an investment from the students because they really want quality work on the web for other students and teachers to read; and it creates such depth to the writing process. Not only are they writing and doing some peer editing, they are revising their own piece once a week, plus revising/responding to 2 other students' writing as well. The added push for students to invest in their writing is the prospect of being published; the students are fascinated with the process and certainly want that recognition. The last thing that my students are gaining is a connection beyond AHS, beyond Colorado, beyond the U.S. They are learning about sports, games, books, music, etc. that is completely new to them, yet they also see that these kids have goals of going to college (many in the U.S.), have boyfriends and girlfriends, want to get good grades, and are typical teenagers.

So, 2 1/2 weeks later, I'm exhausted, but completely invigorated and so completely proud to be a teacher in the 21st Century. I have learned that if I am willing to take a risk, admit that I don't have all the answers (even most), that students will 'step up' and embrace their own learning.

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At 11:27 AM, Blogger Karl Fisch said...

Thanks for being the trailblazer Michele. It will be much easier the second time - for you and for others.

I think now that we'll have something tangible that other folks can look at, it will be easier for them to jump on board in the future. I think fear of the "unknown" holds a lot of teachers back - once they can see it, then they can see how to do it in their own classrooms.


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