Featured Post

Another Geni Post

I wrote about Geni, a genealogy recording website, a while back. Geni asked me to write a post for them describing my experience with Geni. Here it is: Genealogy can be a dry subject for students, the old paper and pencil method of genealogy projects didn’t engage my students or their families to participate further than the obligatory family tree poster. Families were not involved and students were disinterested. Enter Geni.com. Geni excited my students and their parents to collaborate and learn more about their family. Students loved creating their family tree on the website and were eager to learn more about their families. They were excited to come into class to see if any other family members had updated the Geni site with new family information. Students often were surprised at what they learned about family members. One student learned that his grandfather had played minor league baseball. He hadn’t known this before the Geni genealogy project. The student loved baseball himself and now has a deeper connection with his grandfather over their shared love of the sport. Another student told me that his grandparents had never used the Internet before, but after seeing what their grandchild was doing on Geni were enthusiastic to learn. That student taught his grandparents how to get onto Geni.com, login, and add content. Parents were enthusiastic about using Geni; they were able to involve extended family in their child’s learning experiences. Geni brought families closer together through a classroom project. Students learned about their family and created a family tree that can be saved and added to by other family members. The collaboration that Geni brought to the genealogy project was priceless. The project reaches far beyond the walls of my classroom. Families connected in new and meaningful ways. Family genealogy was recorded for future generations. Students began to show real pride in their families history and really understood why genealogy is important. I don’t believe these kinds of results can be achieved with the old family tree poster. The project doesn’t end in my classroom. Students tell me that their families have continued to add to their Geni sites even though the project deadline is past and grades have been given. There is always extra work for the teacher involved in a collaborative project like this one. Instead of just assigning the project and grading what came in I had to plan family collaborations, get permission slips signed, keep track of logins, and make sure I had access to technology when I needed it. The students and families are reaping the benefits of the extra work. Instead of creating a poster that is soon forgotten, students have made important family connections, they have truly gotten the opportunity to learn about their families and have a lasting product that they can continue to add to. I still hear positive comments about the project and younger siblings are already asking if they can do the “Geni project” when they get to 5th grade. Geni can help you implement similar projects in your classroom. Email schools@geni.com for more information. To see the original of this post go to www.blog.geni.com.

Read More

The Future We Will Create: all the in-between important stuff

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Inquiry, inspiration, Middle/High School, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 20-03-2013

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2

A few years ago I watched the documentary TED: The Future We Will Create.  Being a fan of TED talks, I was curious to learn more about the behind the scenes of TED talks and how the conference came to be.  I had heard snippets here and there that the TED conference was like a boys club…you had to have money and “be” somebody to get into a live event.  The documentary pulled back the curtain a little on the intentionality of the way that TED conferences are set up.  They are intentionally packed with entrepreneurs and successful people from various walks of life to bring together change makers.  The actual speakers may not be well known (at least not prior to the talk), they have a limited time to speak, and they share an inspirational message.  But TED isn’t really about the talks, TED is really about the talks that happen in between the talks.  It is about those serendipitous moments that happen when people are exposed to a shared inspiration and then have opportunity to dream about it together.  The magic is in those moments when people with different perspectives come together and share their thinking from that unique vantage point.  It is really about the in between moments, that seemingly empty and unimportant time.  TED does something else that I wasn’t aware of, they offer one TED speaker a “prize”.  Only the prize isn’t really a prize (not in the way we typically think about prizes), instead it is that this person gets to make a wish.  They get to cast a vision and a “what-if.”  They get to challenge the audience to solve a problem that matters to them.  Then comes the incredible part- these people actually use their unique gifts and talents and perspective to help make it so.  World changing.  A future that we create.  Together.

 

As I was pulling together resources for our current inquiry block about “sharing the planet,” I came across several fantastic TED talks that could act like a catalyst for deeper thinking and additional curiosity.  As I watched each video, I kept thinking about the behind the scenes, the in-between talks that aren’t documented.  The change happening as a result.

Then it hit me, we could do this at Anastasis.  We could watch these talks together, and then allow for the in-between talks.  We could be intentional and let our students engage in the discussion, the serendipitous moments of one thing leading to another, and another.  We could give our students time to just talk and wonder and discover together.  We could narrow it down to 3 or 4 TED talks and provide our students with serendipitous in-between.  We could open up the opportunity for our students to come up with the “wish” or challenge that the others would work to make happen.  We could empower our students to go through this same process and then watch them use their unique perspective, gifts and talents to find solutions and dream up new possibilities.

I’m excited to try this.  I believe that we are in the midst of genius every day at Anastasis.  These kids are really incredible.  I want to see what unfolds when we offer just a little inspiration related to our inquiry and then give them some space to just explore and talk.  I want them to see that when hunches collide, BIG world changing ideas happen.  I want them to understand that they are world changers.

Has anyone else done this with students?

I think that this will be a starting point.  For now we will watch talks.  Next year, I would love to have our students plan their own talks.  I want to invite the best-and-brightest from around the world to come listen to our talks.  I want to provide the in-between moments where change is enacted.

Stay tuned…

Comments (2)

Thanks so much for the behind the scences of TED information. That puts such a different perspective on how the video can be used. I love the idea of trying it with a class. Very interested as to how it goes and the chatter you observe from the students.

YES! I did TED talks with my 2nd/3rd graders this year. The 4/5 class did it as well. It was an amazing experience. My reflection on the process can be found here: http://bit.ly/Y5lZWo

I actually have an idea to collaborate with another school – feel free to contact me if you’re interested.

Write a comment

*