Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Start of Something Great....Connecting Students 1000 Miles Apart!



Once upon a time, a superintendent, principal, and teacher librarian from a small town in Iowa called Van Meter met a very cool principal from Philadelphia on Twitter. After a little tweeting, the principal from Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School came to Van Meter with his superintendent, technology director, and one teacher. They learned about the 1:1 laptop program, connected with others, watched kids be creative and excited about learning, and most of all...experienced the Walking Taco.

This was the start of something amazing between these two schools.

And the start of something great for me as a teacher, learner, and most of all a person.

My name is Shannon McClintock Miller and I am the district teacher librarian at Van Meter Community School in Van Meter, Iowa that was lucky enough to be the one in this story. And let me tell you how the story continued.

Last year I developed and taught a PLN course to eight students the second semester. I watched these students find their passions and connect with others through social networking and other resources. Throughout that semester, I thought a lot about ways to create a network for our students in which they could express their creativity, thoughts, and ideas. Someplace that would foster a desire to move outside of the walls of our school and into the world to take their learning to a whole new level.

As the semester continued and the students connected to others, I also connected with my new friend Bill Brannick, principal at this terrific school in Philly. We discussed education, kids, and my PLN course. We talked about ways to get his school involved and decided to connect the two schools virtually and online to create an unique experience for all of us. Over the summer, Bill and I Skyped and worked in a Google Doc writing the course description and expectations. When I went to Philly for #ntcamp in July, we were able to talk face to face and this got me even more excited for school to start. I knew that we were onto something very special.

Our school years have now started at both places. Our classrooms have came together through Skype, Twitter (#vanmeterbpchs), Facebook (Van Meter/BPCHS Connect), and now through newly created student blogs (you can find everyones blog on the right hand side of this post). We have invited several creators of web 2.0 tools into our class in the last few weeks. We learned about Diigo from Maggie, had fun creating a Juxio with Will, and started a Van Meter/BPCHS PLN Webmix in Symbalooo with Kimmie. And we were lucky enough to have Tom Whitby, creator of Educator's PLN Ning and #edchat speak with the students about developing and the importance of their PLN. And it is only September 22nd....I can't wait to see what happens in the next eight months!

This summer I traveled to ISTE in Denver, Colorado. When I got home I wrote this blog post on VOICE called, Are Students Part of My PLN Too? . My students are such an special and important part of my PLN and now I have another group of students in Philly that are just as wonderful!

This might be just the start of something special but just wait....this is definitely going to be one group of kids that will show the world what they are capable of not just inside the walls of their schools, but outside too!

17 comments:

  1. Hi Shannon,

    Thanks for the great post. My students at Burlington High School are working on connecting and building their own PLN's. They will be reading some of the blogs here and commenting and learning along with your students and Bill's in PA.

    It should be an exciting journey! I appreciate your sharing it with all of us.

    Patrick

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  2. im a student from bhs in burlington and i thought this blog was pretty interesting, altho i got really confused on the walking taco it said at the begining. i like how students can connect with other students far away just by using social networking!

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  4. Hello My name is Jason Tarpey i go to school at burlington high school in massachusetts. Me and my class have had the plesure of skyping with you earlier in the year. As a was reading your post i say the phrase "walking Taco" i was confused by this and was wondering if you could clarify what it means.

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  5. Im from burlington mass and i just read your blog post and thought that it was very cool what you were doing. My school is going 1 to 1 and I an excited about how it will work.

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  6. im a student from bhs in burlington and can u yell us what walking taco means but everything except that was great. i like that we can talk to kid all over the world.

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  7. i am also a student from burlington high school. and i found this blog very intriguing. the part that caught my eye was the part how students from our state can connect to your state which are a thousand miles away from us.

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  8. Hello, my name is Gio Faria from BHS and my school is going to start 1:1 soon and this post made me more interested in whats to come.

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  9. Hello, my name is Nick Lake, I am a student at Burlington High School in Massachusetts. I just read your blog post and I thought it was very unique and helpful for children to be able to communicate with people from all around the world. Theres an unlimited amount of knowledge for everyone to find out.

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  10. Hi Patrick and all the students from Burlington High School! I am so happy that you all visited The Student PLN blog, because this is a place you can connect with us too! I will add all of your blogs this afternoon.

    Okay....now let me explain the walking taco. :) When Mr. Bannick came to Van Meter he was told it was walking taco day in the lunch room. He had no idea either what that was. A walking taco is a bag of Doritos crunched up, meat, shredded lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. A taco in a bag....so you can carry it while you are walking. :) They are really popular at football games in Van Meter and in the lunch room. You will just all have to come to Iowa and visit...I will make sure we have walking taco's.

    We look forward to learning, creating, and collaborating with all of you...Lets have a great year together! :)

    Shannon

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  11. i enjoy our PLN class with the other schools. using twitter and blogger is a great way to get connected.

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  12. This is a fun way to get to know other people around the world. There are lots of easy ways to get connected with other people like you.

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  13. This is my new favorite class. PLN is so interesting, it's great learning about all the new ways to connect with people on the internet! I'm learning so much I can't wait for what else we're going to learn this year.

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  14. How exciting! Stacey Wigant, Juliana Smith (Newell-Fonda), and I (South Hamilton) have been doing awesome projects together for the past year. This is a great way to give kids real-life experiences and teach them that what they are learning is relevant to life outside the classroom. What a great post! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm!

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  15. I appreciate the efforts of everyone to connect and learn together. This is a great opportunity for all students involved. I have a question for each of you, why do you think it is important for you to connect with other students in other schools?

    Deron Durflinger- Secondary Principal, Van Meter

    I look forward to your responses.

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  16. I think it's so important to meet and connect with other people because that's how we learn and expand our networks. Networking is so important now and it's something we will need all of lives. For example when it comes time to go to college or get a job it's important to have connections. Mr. Carver said to us, "it's not how much you know or what you know...it's WHO you know"

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