Room 305B Responds

For many reasons, during this past month, my life has resembled a “Series of Unfortunate Events.”  I don’t want to go into the details, but let’s say, I’ve not been on my “A” game this past week.

But fortunately for me, my class has been on their “A” game and then some.  It’s always so gratifying to see kids just embrace learning.  I love when they get excited about doing CBL or watching Yertle and Bowser.  I loved watching them do some reader’s theater skits with their reading books on Tuesday or having them set up my pillbug tank for my grad students on Wednesday.  It’s also gratifying watching their growth in these first few months of school as was evident at the end of the school day when we played the math game known as “detonation.”  But the absolute utmost high moment of the week happened on Wednesday night when I opened up my school e-mail.

Usually when I see a multitude of “red flags” meaning unread e-mail messages, I grimace.  But this time, the plethora of flags were something very different.  Their homework assignment on our newest blog, Room 305B Responds was to write about the physical attributes of our Blanding’s turtles, Yertle and Bowser, as well as watch a video about an incident that happened in our tank.  So, when I started opening up these e-mails, I was really surprised to see that these were not only students’ responses, but students responding to each other’s posts.  The replies were thoughtful to each other.   They were connecting what the writer had said about the turtles to their own lives.  They were complimentary of each other, while offering constructive comments on how to improve their posts.  They were everything that I had hoped that my 21st century learners would do.  They had become true bloggers.  And most importantly of all, they had applied all the social skills training that they had learned through the years.  This was applied Open Circle.

Today in class, I brought up the blog and showed them their comments.  I asked them to discuss what type of internet etiquette they needed to follow.  Then, I asked the students whose posts had been commented on how they felt about receiving feedback from their peers. One girl beamed and said she felt like people read and liked her writing and this made her feel really good as well as she felt like she had a real audience.  Another boy was also really touched that people had responded to his blog in such a positive manner.  It was a great conversation and it really made me proud of these kids!  So, I have lots of e-mails, but in this case, I’m not grimacing at all these red flags!

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National Technology Standards and Global Education in Room 305B

Both on Friday and on Monday, I have spent time discussing with two colleagues how our classes can communicate with one another.  Now, if these were colleagues here at the school, it would be pretty easy:  go into one another’s classroom to discuss a subject, or have the kids talk and discuss at lunch and recess. But these colleagues weren’t across the hall, instead, they are on other sides of the ocean:  one from St. Michael’s School in Ascot England, and the other from Onuma Elementary School in Nanae Japan.  We’ve been busy arranging for our classes to meet via the use of technology.  Our Global Elementary Educational Technological Summit will be held the week we get back from the Thanksgiving break.   We will discuss student-arranged questions with our colleagues from England on December 1st and 2nd.  On Thursday evening, December 3rd, we will be Skypping with our penfriends from Onuma Elementary School.  It’s just amazing to think how our students will have this incredible opportunity to meet students from all over the globe.  I’ve been trying to arrange the Japan opportunity for about a year, but for the English students, one of our Digital Farmers set it up.   Our DLF project nicely ties in with so many of the National Technology Standards.  I’ve copied the second standard for you to all learn what our students should be doing in this age of Digital Learning.

2. Communication and Collaboration

Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:

a. interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.

b. communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.

c. develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.

d. contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.