And so it grows: Telling the Story of Global Collaboration Growth

It is always great to hear the reflections and thoughts of others.  So many things that happen grow far past how they start.  Here are a few that have come across my desk lately.

Love listening to an AP Statistics Teacher from Mary Institute County Day School ( an amazing School in St. Louis) talk about the Flat Classroom Project – she does a great job of describing the structure.  The audio is a bit soft but you can hear it if you turn it all the way up!

Minhaaj ur Rehman, Pakistan presents his views as a judge

Then, just got an email from Joan Huntley, at Stonehill International School in India, an attendee of the Flat Classroom Conference and participant in NetGenEd.

“I'm not sure if I mentioned this or not, but we have two nice collaborations going between our school and George Haines in New York as a result of my meeting George and talking to him at the Qatar conference. One project is with Kate Dickson, our music teacher, where the kids will collaborate on writing an song and then we will vote on it at the end. The other is a project with Mark Dufff, our Humanities teacher, where students from each school are annotating historical and geographical features of their home country (on Google Maps) and at the end the students will study the other country and give a presentation. We set up Nings for both. It's a first time working with the music teachers who were tentative at first about the technology etc.

PS Here are the Nings

Although Julie and I are having to trademark the Flat Classroom name, so that we can raise money to support the conference and projects with some much needed support (we need some back end help on this as it is growing past what we can do as a hobby,) flattening classrooms is something that is for all of us.

We are all a part of this.  Each of us has another way that we are connecting with others, through twitter.

Truly, this is just one of many grassroots collaborations emerging from teachers around the world.  We would never say that we are somehow the only ones doing this, we are not.  However, when opportunities present, we will always share and talk about the need for such collaboration.  The need to share.  The need to connect our classrooms with others.

It is about who you are letting IN!  Who are you connecting your students to?

Does your curriculum director have a world map on their wall?  Are your students collaborating within your school?  Within your district?  Within your state?  Within your nation?  AND around the world?

Students are the greatest textbook ever written for one another.  We must truly be about the business of building the bridges that society of tomorrow will walk across.

Truly, so much of our obstacle is systemic.  Although when speaking, sometimes I get administrators, IT directors, and even teachers who bristle at the tough statements – as a whole I believe that educators, administrators, and IT directors are good people doing a thankless job that is very very hard.

And our system attempts to keep us stuck in the industrial age.  From industrial age testing to huge pyramidal bureaucracies that require layers of approval to somehow personnel decisions (like which teachers don't deserve access to many things) being put on IT directors and curricular decisions (like which websites are accessible in classes) onto IT.  We have some huge systemic problems that must be addressed to unleash the great, innovative, ideas that I believe are itching to get out in many schools.

Are you considering how and where it is appropriate to flatten your classroom. The amazing thing is that with a visionary teacher, they can customize and fit such projects into your curriculum for you.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Alex December 10, 2010 - 11:10 am

Hello Vicki!

Can you tell us a little bit more about your decision to trademark “Flat Classroom(TM)”? Why did you find it necessary, who may/may not use the tradmark, where in the world does it apply?

I really like the Flat Classroom(TM) projects and have written a project plan for university that draws on Flat Classroom(TM) ideas. Now I want to publish my ideas online and I’m not sure if I can refer to the concept of a Flat Classroom(TM).

In my opinion, trademarks are designed to take away freedom from others — freedom to use, alter, create and distribute. I am not patenting/trademarking my ideas because I want to secure everybody’s freedom to do what they want with my ideas.

Thank you,
Alex from Germany

coolcatteacher December 10, 2010 - 1:01 pm

We trademarked it because there were those creating projects and calling them “Flat Classroom” projects. It became a brand and so we had to protect it as such. Flat Classroom, then, isn’t really a generic, it is a proper noun or a group of projects. So, of course, you can refer, to the Flat Classroom (TM) Projects, however, if you said Steps to a Flat Classroom – you couldn’t do that as a generic.

Does that make sense? Of course you can refer to the projects – happy to get my IP lawyer to explain it more.

Trademarks are not designed to take away freedom but rather, to protect. When people who had nothing to do with our work started trying to fritter away pieces and produce inferior things saying they were Flat Classroom – we had to do something. It is not fair for someone else to take away what we’ve worked hard for as we’ve taken the conference nonprofit and have a brand name that we’ve invested a lot it.

So, you cannot trademark ideas in that way — trademark means just that – it is our mark that we use in Trade – it is a name used in our Company, Flat Classroom projects and the name licensed to our nonprofit Flat Classroom Conference and Live events.

I hope this makes sense to you, but it was a decision that had to be made, also, as we proceeded to publish a book on our work – publishers want to know the authors own the “rights” to what they are writing about and we had to do that.

AGain – by owning the trademark it gives us the freedom to continue without fear of having people take our hard work and use it for perhaps good but also perhaps not so good profit -only schemes.

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