Thursday, December 2, 2010

When Students Also Teach....Guest Blogger Shannon Miller on the Blue Skunk Blog


This appeared on Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog on December 1, 2010.

In response to a blog post last week, Shannon Miller, Library Media Specialist in Van Meter, Iowa, sent me a personal e-mail. She has graciously allowed me to use the e-mail as a guest blog post...

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your post Dear Students, Please Lead a Thoughtful Revolution.
These few lines are just awesome and so RIGHT ON.....
If you want to see this kind of revolution that will use technology to help make your schools more effective and meaningful to you - not just the same old, same old with a few bells and whistles - you will need to be the ones who lead the revolution.
Technology alone won't create change. I am less and less convinced that adults will be able to fundamentally change how school is done.
I think it will be up to you...

We are a 1:1 laptop school at Van Meter (Iowa) and it is amazing how things have changed. And you are so right....It is not the technology alone. The thinking has changed. The playing field has leveled....not just with students, but with teachers. The teachers are not the only teachers anymore...the students are also the teachers. And this is okay. This is the really powerful transformation that we have all been lucky enough to be part of. We are part of an environment filled with respect, creativity, collaboration, connecting, thinking, learning, and one of CHANGE. At Van Meter, we want students to find their PASSION. Through this transformation we encourage them to think, lead, and serve. To be part of something bigger...outside of the walls of their school and into the world. This is where every one of our students are going to make a difference and mark on the world in their very own way.

This year I have been fortunate enough to teach a very special group of young people in a PLN/Web 2.0 course that I developed with Bill Brannick from Philly. I have a group of students in Van Meter and we have connected with a group of students at Bill's school too. Our blog, The Student PLN Connect, is one place that we have connected our students and a place for them to be heard. On the side of the blog you will see all of our students blogs. We connect through Skype, Twitter, and email throughout the week. The students are

just finishing a collaborative project that they have been working on with a partner in the other school. By offering this experience to these students and to see the powerful connections has been amazing. My daughter, Brianna, is a student in the class. To see her Skyping and talking with her friend Reanne in Philly while working on a research project together 1,000 miles apart is so incredible. This experience is teaching both of the girls valuable skills and giving them a sense of how powerful connections can be.

And the element I love the best....the chance for our young people to have a VOICE in their education. For them to make a difference in the world. Today we Skyped for a few minutes with our classmates in Philly.

Earlier in the day I had sent them the link to your post and asked them all to read it, discuss, and reflect. I just got done reading the comments that they left. I am so proud of each one of our students in #vanmeterbpchs.

They are our future and we need to let them be heard!

Shannon

Shannon McClintock Miller
Van Meter Community School District Teacher Librarian, Technology Specialist, and National Honor Society Chapter Advisor
Inspiring!

And a few reactions from students to the post...
My name is Reanne _______. I am a junior at Archbishop Prendergast. I have to say I am in total agreement with you. I believe that is the purpose of our Web 2.0/PLN class, preparing a group of student leaders for the revolution that is occurring! I think that all students entering in to a 1:1 community SHOULD read this post so they can grasp the gravity of the situation.
The purpose of technology in education is to further our knowledge in the right way. We aren't learning to use netbooks so we can check our facebook during class- it's so we can better our understanding of the availability of tools and people on the internet and be able to use that in a learning environment.
I agree that 1 to 1 will allow us to be more creative and publish our own ideas. It helps us to be self directed learns and find new tools that will enable people to do more things. Also 1 to 1 will help kids with technology and teach them to use different tools, websites and plenty of more things. This will allow both students and teachers to connect with other students and teacher from different schools, they can collaborate on ideas and new tools.

I am from Van Meter, and our school has a 1:1 program. We've had [laptops] for two years now and I think this was the best change for our school. Having computers was a big step for our small school of 600 students. We embraced the change though, we are now teaching our teachers how to use the technology. Our computers are tools, but it isn't just about the computers. Having them has been great but the computers are doing more than just eliminating text books. They are changing the way we are thinking here at Van Meter. I know I have been thinking differently I am using social media like Twitter, to connect with people. I recently connected with the mayor of our town. He is going to help me with my interest of public relations. I hope the more I learn about communication, and public relations the easier it will be in college, and in the business world. Without these computers and new methods of teaching I would not be as motivated, and I would not be this interested in my schooling. I think we have such an advantage over kids that don't have a 1:1 program. We are expanding our knowledge further than just a text book, and what our teachers can teach us. It truly is a revolution, a revolution for the better.

I am a student at a 1:1 school. We have laptops for grades 6 to 12. There are about 600 people in the whole school grades K-12, so it isn't a very big school, but even in our little school changes are happening because of technology. We now do more projects that we used to, and students have more responsibility. Like anything there are pros and cons to this. Not all of the students are as responsible as they should be, and, as with all technology, there are problems that can set everyone back. Although, I do think that the good things outnumber the bad things.We have access to more information, and have so many great tools available at our fingertips. It is a change, and some people don't like change, but I believe it is a change for the better.

Excellent post! It truly portrays the core ideals of the social and education revolution that we are defiantly entering. Our society is moving into a more technologically involved community in both our school, workplaces, and homes. If we are not ready, if we are stubborn and do not move forward, and if we refuse to get involved into the revolution, we will fall behind in this global society that we have entered. Thank you Doug for writing this article. I am a student in a web 2.0 class at MBAPCHS and it has allowed me to learn more about social media, creating my pln, and learning how to sift through information than I could have alone. Very cool video as well! It is awesome to think how much better education would be if this tool was universal. Your article is an inspiration to students and educators everywhere and I hope that many get a chance to read your article and take what you wrote to heart to utilize these ideas in their environment. If one day every classroom, student, and educator were able to utilize these tools, this education revolution would be in full motion forward into the future!

So why do things like this happen in little VanMeter, IA, but not universally? Inspired leadership? Supportive communities? Alignment of the stars? Dumb luck? Inquring minds want to know. - Doug


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