Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our Experience with ROW InTOONational

We in Oneco's Gifted Program are preparing for ROW InTOONational Family Night and I am starting to reflect just a bit. "ROW InTOONational" is Round #13 of an International Collaboration entitled "Rock Our World", which is founded by Carol Anne McGuire who is a Technology Integration Specialist, Vision Specialist, STAR Discovery Educator, Apple Distinguished Educator, ISTE Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Top Online Educator, Disney Teacher, SMARTBoard Exemplary Educator, Google Certified Teacher and American Film Institute Screen Educator. This project has a several components GarageBand Tracks, Geography , Challenge Based Learning Project on Peace, and Video Conferencing. These components covered a multitude of Standards , which include Florida's Framework for K-12 Gifted Learners, Grade Level Sunshine State Standards, Manatee County Strategic Objectives and National Educational Technology Standards. With my reflections, I want to focus on the principles behind Oneco’s Gifted motto “We are a Laboratory and Not a Factory” and how they fit in with a few components of ROW InTOONational.

I thought I would start with video conferencing, which at their very nature are conversations. Throughout this round we have spoken to many places South Africa, Israel and different states throughout the US. At first, I felt the need to prepare what we would chat about and at times over prepared my students. Then I realized over preparing my students really was not how real conversations were going to take place. So in class we have spent time discussing good conversation skills: the importance to not speak when others are speaking, respond when spoke to and how to ask good questions. Truth is when students were allowed to ask their questions and to lead conversations things became more natural. Thanks to the students, we learned about things that I would have never thought to bring up. Sure there are moments of silliness like when my students performed “The McDonald’s Rap” during a video chat with Tel Aviv, Israel or having my boss participate with us as we did the"Chicken Dance" for students in South Africa. However, isn’t silliness part of establishing relationships and I think some times we forget that learning should be fun (and that it is okay to laugh). We have truly enjoyed laughing and learning with all the ROW classes we have had the pleasure of meeting.

Another ROW component, I really saw our motto come to life in was our animation piece on this round theme, which was Peace. We were generously given a copy of the Animation-ish software by Peter Reynolds’ Company Fablevision, which we have enjoyed very much. However, since this software was relatively new to me and completely new to my students we all just learned it together. Putting myself in the learning process really does change the dynamics in my classroom. All of sudden, students weren’t coming to me for all the answers. Instead, students were forced to do the reading, go through the tutorials and experiment more then if they had just waited for me to walk them through each step. Truth is, many times my students find better ways to do things then if I had been involved with their solution. It was my students that figured out that using a photograph would help cut down on our time needed for the animation and also help to make our project look neater. I believe in giving my students choices, options and some controls. Basically, I give them the guidelines and expectations of what needs to be done, but not a manual. Our ROW InTOONational animation piece is just one more example of how our laboratory works.

Before I close this post, I want to send out a BIG thank you to Carol Anne McGuire, Peter Reynolds and all the other Rockers.
We have had a blast!! Rock Our World has truly been a program where we have been given room to explore, discover and learn from each other. It has kind of been one big global laboratory that we have felt lucky to be a part of.

To see more on Oneco Gifted Program's experiences check out Oneco's- ROW InTOONational Wiki.