Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Day of Connecting At Van Meter

Last Thursday was a day of exciting connections at Van Meter.

It all started out at 8:00am before school even started in Shawn Hyer's room. His 7th grade reading class Skyped with Christina Spiezio's 7th graders in New Jersey. They had fun exchanging conversations about the differences between Iowa and New Jersey, books, and made plans for future connections. They are starting a project working together in Edmodo talking about current event articles on Tween Tribune and other sites. I was lucky enough to met Christina and her teaching partner Chuck Poole at #NTCamp Philly last summer. Chuck's students have connected with our 6th graders this year too. Shawn's other class of 7th graders connected in the afternoon with more of Christina's students.

My friend Stephen Gagnon, a 4th grade teacher in Portsmouth, New Hampshire at Strathum Elementary, told me about World Maths Day. On this site, students can play other students from around the world. On March 1st for 48 hours there is a competition for students ages 5-18. Stephen's students have completed thousands of practice problems within the last few weeks at school and home. Since his students are so great at the World Maths Day site we thought it would be fun to have Mr. G's students teach our students about it too. They Skyped in for almost a hour to Cindi Byrne's 4th grade classroom at Van Meter. They introduced themselves, talked about their schools, learned about World Math Day and the site, and at the end after everyone signed into the site, they even played each other. It was such a fun experience for all of the kids.

After the connection with Mr. G's students, the 4th graders went to the elementary computer lab to hear an amazing presentation by Paula Naugle's 4th graders in New Orleans. She contacted me about her students presenting their Mardi Gras projects to our students. They presented to Staci Braun's and Mrs. Byrnes classes. The students in New Orleans showed masks, items from the parades, photographs, told personal stories, and even did a dance at the end. It was so amazing! Our kids asked great questions to their new friends too.

I have been working with Eric Trudo's advanced computer class on a social media unit. After introducing various social networking tools and telling the class about Twitter, which is my favorite, I thought it would be beneficial for them to hear from another educator too. I asked my wonderful friend Steven Anderson @web20classroom to Skyped with Eric's class. Steven spoke to the students about Twitter and other social media tools. He also spoke about his PLN and the power of the connections that he makes every single day through social networks. The students really enjoyed hearing his story and our conversation about the connections we make to enrich the lives of students and teachers within our schools.

All of these connections started when we met each other on Twitter. We collaborate together, share resources, discuss education, and help one another out. We invite these people into our classrooms to teach our students and encourage relationships between our classrooms and schools. Through these connections we are teaching our students about the power of connections, the importance of communication, and the value of friendship.

And this is just one day at Van Meter. I cannot wait to see who "visits" our classrooms and students next.


  1. I grew up in Boone and taught in Madrid for five years. Although that was a long time ago, those small towns were isolated.

    Since then I've learned that education is at its best when it goes beyond the limitations of the walls and clocks that govern so much of what we do in schools.

    Congratulations to everybody in Van Meter for providing such excellent, "world-class" learning experiences for your students and community.

  2. And that is just one day at Van Meter! Shannon, isn't it amazing what our connections on Twitter enable us to do each day. Anyone who doesn't understand the power of having a PLN (personal learning network) should read about this wonderful day of learning it helped provide.

    My students have Skyped about Mardi Gras with Len Horn's class in Arizona, Terri Reh's class in Colorado, Aviva Dunsiger's class in Canada, Jan Well's class in Kansas as well as your wonderful students in Iowa. We will be visiting more classes this coming week.

    Thank you for the connection and friendship.

  3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you are doing at Van Meter - in our district we have many social networking tools blocked (Twitter) and the district has been VERY strict about Skype visits (I believe I did one of the first ones in our district a few weeks ago). I can't wait to meet you in Chicago - maybe we can come up with some way to have our students connect too!

  4. With states like Florida facing an 89% failure rate, its great to see the other part of the nation doing exceedingly well

    Scott Trokel @ Smart Copier Lease