Half a World Away and Still You’re Near Me

The following video is from a student assigned to explain Thomas Friedman‘s first trend “Connecting the World Online” using the concept of “Play” (we called it the Fun Factor) from Dan Pink's book A Whole New Mind. (I'm going to use this video to introduce the terminology of Web 2.0 with my younger students!)

It is amazing how well this video DOES teach, but the kids had so much fun (as you can tell.) This video was created in a little over a week and uses the green screen techniques taught by Dean Shareski as a by product of his amazing keynote. (Actually, we used a $25 green sheet of chromakey plastic from ebay! Not perfect, but hey, it worked!)

Again, this project has accelerated my students far past what any of us seven teachers could do alone. It is not something any one of us teachers can get our arms around or really take credit for.

We are facilitators, the kids grow and learn like a moving, evolving organism of thought, excitement, and challenge. It is full of experiential learning, peer review, and learning by socialization.

When a project gets this large, there is no tight fisted control. We are involved any time there are issues (had an accidental wiki war yesterday but taught the kids how to handle it and it is a non -issue at this point.) But every issue is a teachable moment for all of us.

This sort of project is challenging, difficult, hard to imagine, and yet so incredibly rewarding. I believe that making connections is one of the most important things you as a teacher can do.

For example, although Dana Huff‘s wiki project with Reuven Werber in Israel has been taken down by the month long teacher's strike in Israel. Dana says:

What do we do when the best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley?

And what does it say about the project that the kids are still chatting through the discussion area of the wiki and friending each other on Facebook even though the project is on hiatus?

My response to her was this:

“The connections are so important and certainly take a life of their own. No project goes “as planned” and no project is perfect, however it is in the imperfection of humanity we can see the beauty of the connections… hybrid flowers if you will that would have never bloomed without cross pollinization. Thanks for sharing!”

What are you doing to connect?

What are you doing to bring your students near to a world that is half a world a way?

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Vicki Davis

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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scmorgan November 21, 2007 - 2:23 pm

Great post and what a video. We are just beginning our own global connections. Thanks for sharing this.

keith.hamon November 22, 2007 - 2:06 pm


Ian Stuart of Islay, Scotland, and Bob Meacham of Monroe County, GA, are conducting a flat class exercise with 8th graders, who are using Google Sketchup to explore historical sites in their respective locales and share the results with each other. It’s been a great learning effort for all so far.

We’ll open the wiki for all to see in just another week or two, but if you can’t wait, then go to IslayMonroe Wiki, and ask to join.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere