When you have meaningful, authentic projects using technology, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS. Casey Cox, one my students from the very first Flat Classroom project in 2006 is now a college graduate. Take a look at her latest water conservation project and see what this type of education does.
Casey is a young graduate from the University of Florida and has moved back home. She's becoming an advocate for environmental conservation and water use. She's written a piece for IBM's Smarter Planet Blog: “How Big Data is Helping Seed a Farming Transformation.”
Big Data and Water Conservation
She and some other local leaders are featured in the YouTube video on the IBM Social Media Site.
My work with the Flint River Partnership focuses on leading outreach initiatives to help farmers implement conservation-oriented agricultural practices to minimize environmental impact and enhance farm efficiency. Working with top agricultural scientists, we’re developing new and innovative farming practices using big data analytics that will ultimately transform agriculture at a global scale and create a more sustainable food supply.
The ultimate goal of our Partnership is to optimize irrigation water management by building new services and tools based on emerging technology, and then assist agricultural producers in using those tools to irrigate more efficiently. IBM’s Deep Thunder is one of these tools.
While Casey deserves the credit for her work, I'd like to think she got her start as she collaborated globally in her tenth grade classroom, as she composed poetry and studied the history of the Flint River, and discussed big data in my classroom eight years a go. (You can see exactly what she did on our class wiki. She was also mentioned by name in Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat along with her partner Cannelle. Doesn't she wish it was her full name now? )
Epic Starts With an Excellent 21st Century Education
There's a direct correlation between what she's doing now and the conversations she had here when she was a student at Westwood Schools.
- I see a direct impact of our visionary curriculum director Betty Shiver who pushed us to do projects with students that had meaning and relevance in our local community.
- I see her literature teacher Betsy Caldwell who helped her hone and improve her already strong writing skills.
- I see her science teacher Pam Dean and her math teacher Azalee Vereen and so many others who poured their life into her.
- I see studying the World is Flat and the Horizon Report.
- And yes, I see just the tiniest bit of me.
But mostly I see just Casey– a polished, professional, savvy woman well versed in technology, science, and the history of the area she loves. I see epic. It is awesome to have even a small part of epic.
When you use true 21st Century Teaching and Learning Strategies, that is what you do. You become part of epic, life changing experiences. You help students get on track to their own version of epic.
21st Century Teaching Isn't Just Good Teaching: It's Revolutionary
I love how Casey ends her article
There’s no denying the potential data analytics can have on business, but for agriculture and today’s farmer, only one word can describe its future impact: revolutionary.
Casey Cox, your Computer Science teacher is so proud of you. You're making a difference in the world and our community. You're also confirming to me that what we're doing in this classroom works in the long run.
You've given me the gift of seeing all this hard work does make a difference. Because as much as I love teaching, I also love the earth and the agriculture, and the beautiful Flint River we must protect. I love this community and helping you become epic is helping this community I love and this world we must protect.
By helping give you a great education, I've helped give the world a gift: YOU.
Being well educated isn't about science or technology or collaboration or math in isolation but what understanding those things together can do in the hands of a creative mind. We need help with the hard problems without multiple choice answers.
Now that's revolutionary.
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