Saturday, February 6, 2010

Look What We Learned From Across the World...and right here in Iowa!

My 7th graders in Technology and Information Literacy had an amazing learning experience last week. They learned about the wonderful Web 2.0 tool YouTellYou from its creator Ruggero Domenichine! YouTellYou is an amazing web 2.0 tool that lets you create photo stories about your life and share them with others through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other places.

A little before 1:00pm on January 28th we had a Skype conference with Ruggero who lives across the world in New Zealand. The Van Meter students smiled as they listened and interacted with Ruggero as he told them how and why he developed YouTellYou. They even learned about the time difference, seasons, and that kiwi birds use to be as big as an ostrich!

Ruggero walked the students through the steps of creating a YouTellYou and has conferenced with them through email as they get their stories online. The 7th graders were very excited for this learning experience and cannot wait to share their own YouTellYou stories through their blogs with the world.

This wasn't the only AWESOME event at Van Meter on January 28th! Deron Durflinger, Van Meter secondary principal did a great job documenting the additional excitement on his blog #vanmeter Schools Transforming the Educational System:

Friday, January 29, 2010

I Witnessed History Today

On Thursday, January 28, 2010, members of the Van Meter School community participated in a testimonial to the Iowa House/Senate Education Appropriations Committee. It was an eye opening experience for many of the members of the committee as well as the other members of the audience that day. As Sandra Dop from the Iowa Department of Education said, "I witnessed history today." Powerful words from someone that had been exposed to what schools should be like for learners of the 21st century.
What she witnessed that day, was a diverse group of Van Meter students displaying how they learn best and describing what they think school can and should become. She saw and heard testimonials from seven students ranging in grades 5-12. These students were a microcosm of students from most Iowa schools with varying degrees of "ability", from various socio-economic backgrounds, and households. This group of students was not selected because they were the "best" students, they were selected because they had shown a passion for learning in a new modality, and they wanted to share it with the world. They are students that fit our mantra of creating global citizens, who canTHINK, LEAD & SERVE.
What she witnessed was hundreds of people participating in a backchannel discussion via Twitter and the #vanmeter hashtag. It was a great display of how connected we are with other learners throughout the world. Over 600 tweets were made with the #vanmeter hashtag that day, and it opened the eyes of our policy makers to the possibilities technology can provide for students in the state of Iowa.
What she witnessed was our students live streaming the entire presentation via JustinTV. Be patient the audio and video get better. It is worth watching!

Watch live video from derondurflinger on
Watch live video from derondurflinger on
Watch live video from derondurflinger on Justin.tvThe opportunity for the rest of the world to share in this event was very powerful and again supports our belief that our students now have the opportunity to learn with, and from learners everywhere.
It truly was a great chance for #vanmeter students to share how teaching and learning has changed for them. Hopefully, our visit to the Capitol will lead to policy changes needed to make our educational system more sensitive to the needs of students in the rest of the state as well.
However, the magic didn't stop at the Capitol. Upon arriving back at the school, Shannon Miller, our district librarian asked me to come to the library so we could see what was going on.What we saw was Ruggero Domenichine from New Zealand teaching our students how to share photos on his Not only was this a cool learning opportunity for our students, this was also more verification for us that learning is not restricted to our own classrooms and buildings.
Our learning did not stop there. Later that afternoon, Shannon Miller, John Carver, and I were able to share our experience from the day with Tom Whitby and Steven Anderson. Great leaders whom have expanded my learning via Twitter and other means. It was nice to finally put voices with the tweets, and the enriching conversation put a wonderful cap on an eventful day.
Sandra Dop hopes that what she witnessed on 1/28/10 was the beginning of the beginning for educational transformation in the state of Iowa. I can tell you that the lead-learners of Van Meter Schools believe we have positioned ourselves to help lead the transformation needed in the state of Iowa to improve schools and increase meaningful learning for students everywhere. For all of those who helped make 1/28/10 a great day, your help is appreciated. For those who missed out, hopefully by reading through some of the tweets and watching some of our students' presentations, you can share in the experience we had the day educational transformation began in the state of Iowa.
Also read Van Meter superintendent John Carver's blog entry about the day at Van Meter Think, Lead, and Serve.
And a few others wrote about our great day too...
Shelly Terrell wrote What Did They Tweet!

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