My techno-activist students: See their projects speaking out for genocide in Darfur

I blogged this morning about the Many Voices for Darfur project.

My students at Westwood Schools are speaking out in the following ways:

Some students have compiled resources in a Zoho Notebook and one student Made his on personal notebook calling for change.

Shelby blogged publicly blogged on her youth voices about what she and her friends are doing. Other students were going to blog it and link to Shelby's post.

We had two students call the White House using information from Oprah Winfrey's Darfur website.

We unblocked facebook and myspace today and students joined the facebook group and myspace group (sorry I don't have that link) that they felt best represents the action that needs to be taken. They are asking all of their friends to join in as well.

Several students created videos that they sent to major news outlets like CNN and Fox News to create awareness for this project and ask that the news stations consider updating the public about what is happening.

The students are blogging, creating videos, networking with facebook and myspace, calling the White House, and even plan to start a petition to send to our representatives. You can download the petition here.

Whether or not we can change things, we can speak out. Youth voices do count and it is time to speak out for the injustices. We cannot be everywhere but we can speak out somewhere and our students feel that their place is the Internet.

A note on the WHY!
It is about the starfish. This video puts it beautifully:

But some of you don't have the video availability so here is the story of the starfish originally written by Loren Eisley (this is an adaptation):

I awoke early, as I often did, just before sunrise to walk by the ocean's edge and greet the new day. As I moved through the misty dawn, I focused on a faint, far away motion. I saw a youth, bending and reaching and flailing arms, dancing on the beach, no doubt in celebration of the perfect day soon to begin.

As I approached, I sadly realized that the youth was not dancing to the bay, but rather bending to sift through the debris left by the night's tide, stopping now and then to pick up a starfish and then standing, to heave it back into the sea. I asked the youth the purpose of the effort. “The tide has washed the starfish onto the beach and they cannot return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun rises, they will die, unless I throw them back to the sea.”

As the youth explained, I surveyed the vast expanse of beach, strectching in both directions beyond my sight. Starfish littered the shore in numbers beyond calculation. The hopelessness of the youth's plan became clear to me and I countered, “But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference.”

The youth paused briefly to consider my words, bent to pick up a starfish and threw it as far as possible. Turning to me he simply said, “I made a difference to that one.”

I left the boy and went home, deep in thought of what the boy had said. I returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day helping the boy throw starfish in to the sea.”

We can't do everything. We're not omnipotent. We're not everywhere. But you know what?

I don't teach these kids about technology just to let it be something they'll use one day, they should use it to make the world better NOW! Speak out NOW! Do something NOW!

It is not just about technology for me… it is so much more. It is a mindset that a person in small town Camilla or small town anywhere doesn't have to have a small mind.

And that a big mind in a small town can change the world through a broadband internet connection.

I push them to be big minded… understanding that when a starfish comes our way as this two day chance to speak out has… it is our turn to pick it up and do our part. We cannot do much.. but we can add our voices.

Please share this project — I would like to see the participating teachers page grow (just ask to join the space) — even if you can't get it in until next week — speak out, leave your comments on their blog, make a video, and add your voice and even more importantly, the voices of your students. They will remember this one day when another starfish comes their 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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Dogtrax March 7, 2008 - 12:28 am

Can I get access to the petition without having to join Facebook?
I would love to see it and maybe use it with my students.

George Mayo March 6, 2008 - 7:57 pm

Hi Ms. Davis,

Thanks you very much for getting your students involved in the Many Voices for Darfur project. It’s amazing what your students are doing so quickly. Thanks for helping, and please spread the word! Every voice counts. If possible, it would be great to add any and all multi-media work your students produce to our Many Voices for Darfur wiki.
We already have a collection of videos, Voicethreads, Voki’s, a Papercraft, and even an original song/music video. Thanks for helping!

Louise Maine March 7, 2008 - 2:24 am

Already passed this on to several of my students who “are on top of world events”. Will find another teachers at school to help as well.

I love your quote: “a person in small town Camilla or small town anywhere doesn’t have to have a small mind”.

Vicki A. Davis March 7, 2008 - 2:27 am

@George – Thank you for inspiring us. See you next Tuesday on Wow2!

@dogtrax — The petition is hyperlinked directly in the post or also from the first zohonotebook link.

@louise maine — That quote was drilled into me by my parents!

Dogtrax March 7, 2008 - 10:51 am

Thanks — The zoho link worked but the link to the petition via Facebook requires you have an account with FB (just fyi). It may not appear for you if you are already logged in to FB.

Library Lady March 10, 2008 - 2:04 am

Thanks so much to you and your students for helping raise awareness of this unspeakable genocide. It is incredibly frustrating to know this is going on and not be able to stop it. How many more people will have to die?

KiefnerD March 10, 2008 - 4:20 am

Wow! It is amazing to see all the ways teachers are using technology in the classroom. I often think of technology from an instructional standpoint, but your students show it can be used as a tool for activism as well. I think it is important for students to be aware of what is going on in the world, and it is great that your students are concerned about the conflict in Darfur. The internet allows them to find information, communicate with others about the situation, and even take action by signing the petition. To me, the internet is such an ideal way for youth voices to be heard because it is something they are comfortable with and it shows them they can make a difference no matter who or where they are. I love what you said about not teaching technology only for the future, but as something that can be used now. Students are full of ambition and hope, so it is imperative for teachers to give them the tools and skills that will help them channel their dreams into reality and make the world a better place starting today

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