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!