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Wait, what just happened?! (Launching a Conference)

Posted by admin | Posted in 5Sigma, Anastasis Academy, collaboration, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 02-03-2015

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5 Sigma Edu Con- a truly innovative education conference!

As it turns out, putting on a conference is a whole lot like planning for a wedding. Months of preparation, sleepless nights, and dreams (nightmares?) that make you begin to believe that the world revolves around this one event. And then suddenly it is here, the big day. The culmination of all of the hard work.

A strange peace comes over you when you wake the morning of the conference. You’ve done all that you can do. If it hasn’t already been planned for, it will just be what it is.

Blink and it is over.

Wait, what just happened?!

You know it was an AMAZING two days and that the connections were incredible, but going back to sum it up in a few words…that is harder.

The crisis of the imminent creeps in (oh yeah, I still have a school to run!) and before you know it a week has passed and you still haven’t put thoughts down on paper.

I’ve struggled to neatly sum up the 5Sigma Conference. What I can say is, WOW. The 5Sigma Education Conference was one of the best professional experiences I’ve had. It feels a little arrogant to say since I’m the one who planned it, but really, what happened last weekend impacted me enormously. It wasn’t what I did. It was the connections with others who are innovative and amazing in their education space. It was the stories told, the laughter shared, it was the discovery that others are doing the hard thing in education and we share the same struggles and joys. In a way, the 5Sigma conference was like being in a foreign country and finding someone from your hometown. Only everyone at the conference was that person.

Anastasis is a very different kind of school. Even the things we do that share common education language (inquiry), look very different here. It can feel a bit isolating, even surrounded by other educators, because we do things that others don’t. 5Sigma was a great reminder that we aren’t alone. That others know the struggles. They also know the deep joy, freedom, and excitement. It was incredible to be able to share that with so many!

I’m still sorting out my thoughts…I suspect they will become several posts. In the mean time, I want to share some words from others who are more eloquent in their reflection of the weekend than I currently am.

This gem is from @yourkidsteacher (who many of you supported through the 5Sigma Pay-it Forward program to get to Colorado for the conference): Edu Conferences, Woodstock & Physicists

Check out this Storify of Tweets from the weekend to get a taste of the fabulous discussions that happened (Thanks to @rsvoigt for making that happen!): 5Sgima Edu Conference Storify

To all who attended the first annual 5Sigma Education Conference: a sincere thank you! Your presence, support, and the conversation your brought was THE highlight.

To our awesome presenters: You all are rock stars. I don’t say that lightly. You are incredible people doing important work every. single. day. Thank you for sharing that.

To our sponsors: You made so much of what we did possible to do. Thank you for supporting us with swag, donated snacks that made us feel at home, and prizes that put some substantial smiles on faces!

To Team Anastasis staff, students, and parents: You are hands down the BEST and my favorite!

 

From lack of motivation to Schooltopia (a resolution you will want to keep!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, For Teachers, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development | Posted on 07-01-2015

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January is the month of resolutions. The dawn of a new year when the possibility for change is fresh, and aspirations of doing better is rampant. The idea of a clean slate, or cleaning of the slate.

Unfortunately for me, January has always been the time of the year when I feel the least amount of motivation (eclipsed only by February). I’m not sure why this is, but I sort of dread this time of year. I can’t pinpoint exactly why this is. It could be that my formally decorated house suddenly feels bare and sad. It could be that it is STILL getting dark before I get home from work and I’m STILL waking up in the dark. Maybe it is the abundance of gray, cold days. OR the indoor recess and cabin fever that flow out of those days. Perhaps it is the tax forms that start showing up in my mailbox reminding me of the imminent filing of taxes. Regardless of the reason, the result is the same. I feel less like connecting with friends, less like engaging in conversations on Twitter that I normally love. In general, I feel much less like my glass-half-full self.

But this year…this year is different! I have something to anticipate in February. I hope for those of you who dread these months like I do, this could be just the thing to pull you out of the January/February funk. 5-Sigma Edu Conference.

4 years ago I started a school. I decided that I was going to put all of the best into one place. All those #edchats were going to matter, they were going to make a difference for kids. I reworked curriculum, assessment, structure of the day, the classroom space, the homework that would happen, the way parents and students would think of school. Basically I wanted schooltopia. Enter some absolutely incredible board members, teachers, and families and the schooltopia is about as close to utopia as you can imagine. That isn’t to say it hasn’t been without its bumps and major lessons along the way (some I would have liked to have avoided), but when you walk into Anastasis Academy, you can instantly feel that something is different in the best way possible. I realize that I am biased, but those who visit our school exclaim over it as well. In fact, those that visit Anastasis generally come back again and again. They invite friends to come see. Our students feel the difference. Our parents talk about the life they see in their kids.

This February, we are hosting our first ever conference. We want to share with a bigger audience what we are up to at Anastasis. What we do that it is different (sometimes it is simply in the language we use with students). We want you to see it first hand. We want to learn together and make Anastasis a true living laboratory. The 5-Sigma Edu Conference is more than a tour of Anastasis. We’ve brought together a truly passionate group of innovators and change makers to host conversations and planning sessions. Christian Long is our opening keynote and Rafranz Davis is our closing keynote. If you’ve ever experienced either of these wonderful people, you know that they are like instant shots of inspiration. Beyond the inspiration, these are people who walk along side educators to help them use that inspiration to inform change.

We’ve got panel discussions with students, teachers, and parents. We’ve got artists who think like educators. We’ve got master mentors. We’ve got incredible educators coming to share their insights and encouragement. We’re bringing in a team of people who have inspired what happens at Anastasis and want to introduce you to the same inspiration.

I. Cannot. Wait.

Finally, something to keep me from the apathy I so often fall into this time of year!

I want to invite you to join us. I can promise this will not be like any other educational conference that you’ve been to!

Register today at http://5sigmaeducon.com

 

Want to hear more? Tune in to Core of Education’s live YouTube event tomorrow!

**I appreciate that for most educators, conference fees and travel come out of personal budgets. I also appreciate (as an educator) that those budgets are extremely tight…always. If you are looking for professional development that will take you beyond the big-budget conferences that share lots of cool tools but don’t transform your classroom, this is the place. We want to spoil you as you’ve never been spoiled at a conference! If you are lucky enough to work in a school or a district that helps pay for outside professional development, I’ll be posting a request letter template here tomorrow. I’ll do my best to save you time in your request!

Professional development to be excited about

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, inspiration, professional development | Posted on 12-11-2014

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If you’ve ever read a post on iLearn Technology and thought, “man! That is way cool, I wonder how they do that at Anastasis?” Now is your opportunity to find out! We are hosting our first education conference in February. 5 Sigma Edu Conference

I. Can. Not. Wait!!

We have early bird pricing happening through November, don’t miss out on that opportunity to save yourself (or if your lucky, your school) a little money! This is going to be a truly awesome event, the sessions coming together are fabulous and THE Christian Long is going to be here (can you hear the squeals of excitement that are happening?).

If you still aren’t sure if you should make the time to come, use this handy little decision map:

should I go to 5 Sigma:?

 

Welp, that settles it! Can’t wait to meet you all face to face and geek out over education together!

Host an RSCON4 Meetup Party- Introduce Colleagues to Your PLN!

Posted by admin | Posted in collaboration, education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 01-10-2013

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Reform Symposium Free Worldwide Conference

If you have never attended an online conference, you should definitely take the opportunity to try one out on October 11-13 for the Reform Symposium Conference.  The line up of keynote speakers, presenters, and panel discussions is FANTASTIC.  It is like traveling around the world for inspiration from the comfort of your living room.  I really can’t say enough about how excited I am for this awesome weekend of learning!  Please join us for as much as you can, you will not be disappointed!  Plus, what could be better than learning with a bunch of friends from your living room?  You don’t even have to worry about what attire you should wear (I’ll be in PJs for sure!).

Be sure to join @michellek, @nancybabbitt and me for our session Connections Through Inquiry on Sunday! We’ll be talking up strategies that we use at Anastasis Academy as teachers and learners.  Check out the online schedule in your timezone and plan to join us!

If you are an online conference regular who is constantly working to get other teachers at your school to attend (with no luck), why not consider hosting a Reform Symposium Conference meetup party?  If they won’t engage in online community on their own, bring the community to them!  This would be a great way to help those who are less tech savvy get involved in some professional development in a way that feels ‘safe.’  Choose a location with good wifi (this could be a room at school, your living room, a local coffee shop), load up on fun snacks, invite some friends and learn together!  I have done this in the past with great success! It is all kinds of fun and adds a level of safety for first timers.  Use this event as an opportunity to introduce your offline colleagues to your online PLN (personal learning network).  I find that people are more likely to engage online for learning when they feel like they have a connection to others going in.  When they start a great conversation during a session, help them continue it by signing up for Twitter.

If you want to get really fancy, share my Twitter posters as a party gift.  Help those who haven’t signed up to sign up and connect to those they met during the conference.  Following the conference, send others at your school a “Learning Moment of the Day” along with a link to the community (member) that shared it with you.

Sometimes all it takes to connect people is a new approach to the invitation delivery. :)

 

We are still looking for volunteers to help with the conference!

Volunteer to Moderate Sessions for the Reform Symposium E-Conference (RSCON4)

RSCON would not be so inspiring without a highly devoted group of volunteer moderators to keep the conference running with as few hiccups as possible. Moderators play one of the most important roles by jumping into various sessions and helping presenters and participants have a great experience. Additionally, volunteers get to meet our inspiring presenters and introduce them to the audience. To become part of this super amazing team, sign up at http://www.futureofeducation.com/group/2013-rscon-volunteers and use the booking calendar to schedule volunteer time, http://rsconvolunteers.youcanbook.me

Also, attend one of our Blackboard Collaborate training sessions so you are familiar with the platform, http://bit.ly/rscon4trainingpg

Thank you for helping us inspire educators worldwide!

If you have questions about volunteering for the conference, one of our volunteer organizers would be happy to help!  Tweet your questions to one of the awesome organizers listed below!
Peggy George (@Pgeorge), Marcia Lima (@Bamarcia), Chiew Pang (@AClilToClimb), Jo Hart  (@JoHart), Phil Hart (@PhilHart)

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

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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…

12 Days of Dreaming #12DOD

Posted by admin | Posted in education reform, For Teachers, inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources | Posted on 03-12-2012

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I love this time of year. Everything seems so full of possibility and optimism.  @Mr_Brett_Clark took hold of that feeling and started Education Dreamer: 12 Days of Dreaming.  Today was the big launch!  From Brett: “There is no greater time than now to share our dreams for education. Everything great that has ever happened, started as a dream.
Education Dreamer will post a new post on Monday through Thursday the first three weeks of December beginning December 3rd.
You can support this project by sharing out the post using #12DOD, adding a badge to your website, and leaving comments.”

I fully support this 12 days of dreaming and added my own dreams which were posted on day number one.  Lucky me!

Follow along, dream with your fellow educators and be inspired to make those dreams a reality!

My contribution is called: Dreaming of a Better Education.  Click the link to have a read.

Thank you for including me Brett!  Happy Everything :)

Do Lectures: Ideas + Energy = Change

Posted by admin | Posted in education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 05-07-2012

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What it is:  Summer is a great time to be inspired, laugh and gather ideas.  TED has been my go-to place for video inspiration, but recently I found a new source: Do Lectures.  Do Lectures are like TED Talk videos, they are inspiring talks from people who are changing the world.  The talks are broken down into talks about Big Ideas, Challenging talks, Funny talks, Informative talks, Inspiring talks, and Soulful talks.  You can also search by topic (business, creativity, environment, food, sport, technology, or well being) or by speaker.

Do Lectures started out of West Wales and is moving to the good old USA in 2012.  They call themselves a mash-up, a village of ideas.  They take great talks, yummy local food, great un-signed bands, workshops and bring them together in one place. They switch the Internet off so that people talk (in real life) because ideas need conversation.  The idea is to create an eco-system for ideas to be born, shared and acted on.  The next event is happening in California September 20-13.

How to integrate Do Lectures into the classroom: Do Lectures don’t focus on education specifically.  I kind of love that they don’t.  I find that my BEST ideas for the classroom and education come from outside of education.  Often, we become an echo chamber within education.  Hearing ideas from any field sparks ideas and creative approaches to teaching/learning for me.  Do Lectures are a great place to find inspiration and new ideas for your classroom.

Do Lectures can also be the perfect supplement or launching point for units of study in your classroom.  You may find a video that supports the learning happening in your classroom.

Tips:  Be sure to share those great videos you stumble on with the rest of us!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Do Lectures  in  your classroom!

The Literacy Shed: a treasure trove of ideas

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Character Education, Create, Evaluate, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Websites | Posted on 25-06-2012

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What it is:  The Literacy Shed is a fantastic blog/site I learned about on Twitter from @missmac100, thanks Carol! The Literacy Shed is maintained by primary teacher Rob Smith and is packed full of teaching ideas all related to literacy.  The site is separated into “sheds,” each with a different genre.  There are short films images and book suggestions that are each accompanied by a teaching idea that includes discussion questions and writing prompts.  The Literacy Shed has plenty of ideas to keep you going all year long!   This truly is a treasure trove that will keep you coming back again and again. You will find the following “sheds” on the Literacy Shed:

  • Fantasy
  • Ghostly
  • Other Cultures
  • Inspiration
  • Moral
  • Picture Book
  • Great Animation
  • Love
  • Inventors
  • Fairytales
  • Reading
  • Poetry
  • Adventure
  • Mystery
  • Film Trailer
  • Fun
  • Lighthouse
  • Flying Books
  • Resource
  • Non-literacy
  • Weblinks

How to integrate The Literacy Shed into the classroom: The Literacy Shed is a great one-stop-shop for inspiration and ideas to improve literacy and critical thinking in your classroom.  The ideas can be used with a variety of age groups, different ages will pick up on different themes and discussions using the same videos/images/books.  Students will become familiar with a variety of genres and become comfortable with the characteristics of each.

There is something here for every classroom and unit.  As I said, it is a treasure trove of resources!  Use the ideas in the Literacy Shed to spark meaningful discussions and writing direction for your students.  I always like to start with discussion and end with a written reflection because it gives students the opportunity to listen to other ideas, and then solidify their own ideas and reflections in writing.

Tips: You can follow the Literacy Shed on Twitter: @redgierob

Please leave a comment and share how you are using The Literacy Shed in  your classroom!

Pinterest: My new obsession

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 01-08-2011

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What it is:  Pinterest is a new obsession of mine.  I signed up for the invite-only version a while ago but hadn’t done anything with the service since.  In between Reform Symposium sessions I wandered back on to check it out.  Wow. I know there are other tools out there that do what Pinterest do but none that are so immediately user friendly and visually appealing.  I am impressed and addicted.  Pinterest lets you “pin” things from around the web on virtual pin boards.  You can create as many boards as you want and share them with others.  Each time you pin something you can give it a description and tags if you want. Pinterest does the rest and automatically cites the source and provides a trail to get back to the original.  As a teacher I love Pinterest for pinning all of those great ideas I find around the web visually.  I can write a quick reminder to myself about what I was thinking when I pinned it or how I want to use the tool.   SO great!  A lot of times I come across some random craft or picture that spurs an idea for something I want to do for the classroom.  Because it isn’t a tech-tool or related to education it often gets lost.  Pinterest is helping me grab all of those ideas and keep them around so I actually put them to use.  Very nice.

How to integrate Pinterest into the classroom: Pinterest is a great way to organize yourself as a teacher.  Gather up all those ideas you see online and then share them with other teachers (who may or may not be Pinterest users…it really doesn’t matter).

Because you can share Pinterest boards with non-Pinterest users, this is a great way to share things with students.  The resource could be anything- pictures, a website, a video.  Create a board for every unit that you do and share those boards with students so that they can continue exploring and learning.

Students can use Pinterest too, invite young students to help build boards in a class Pinterest account.  Create a board for every letter of the alphabet and let students add pictures that they come across to the letter board that it matches.  Pinterest has a bookmark tool that you can put in your bookmark bar to make this as easy as one click!  Students can put their first name in the description so you (and other students) can keep track of who found what.  Like a year-long web scavenger hunt!

Older students can create their own Pinterest boards.  Pinterest would be a great place for them to collect images that they feel say something about them-an identity board.  These boards can be shared with others and added to all year.  Not only will you get to know your students better, but other students will find connections they didn’t know they had.

Pinterest is a nice visual way for students to share their web findings.  Pinterest even lets students decide if they want to be the only contributor to their board or if they want to open it up for collaboration so others can add their findings to the board.  Way cool.

I have two Pinterest boards that may be of interest to you, one is Classroom Inspiration where I am keeping ideas of things I want to do with students or for our classroom.  The other is School Design where I am collecting inspirational designs that I want to see in our school when we build our own building.

Tips: Right now Pinterest is an invitation only site.  You can sign up to receive an invitation (I received mine in about 10 min) or you can let me know you are interested in an invite and I can get you on the list.  See that? It is worth reading to the bottom of posts- VIP access! Leave a comment if you want an invite and be sure to use a real email address because that is how the invite gets to you.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Pinterest  your classroom!

Project Global Inform

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blogs, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-12-2010

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What it is: Project Global Inform is an incredible movement bringing together education and a mission to do something about human rights.  Project Global Inform “is an in-school project where students use media to spread awareness about human rights violations. PGI came out of the idea that we too often “teach” our students about genocide and human rights violations, but never “do” anything about it. This project’s main objective is to create awareness about current human rights violations in our schools, communities, and abroad. Through the use of media and technology students have the power to make a difference.”  This is education and learning at it’s finest, it is a call to action and an invitation for students to do something important.  The project is made up of eight steps.  First, students learn about human rights issues through media and literature.  Next students form groups based on the humans rights issue they are passionate about.  Each group learns about the history of the human rights issue they chose including the current political stance, media, etc.  Students come up with an action plan for creating awareness.  Students use the action plan as the base for their project where they will choose a media outlet to spread awareness about the issue.  At the end of the campaign, students will collect data on the effectiveness of the campaign (based on website hits, video views, “likes” on Facebook, etc.).  Each team writes up a report detailing and reflecting on the project, success, and failures. Each student creates a video or slideshow (a kind of documentary) of their project.   This is an opportunity for your students to learn about humans rights issues and to get involved in an authentic way that has the potential to directly impact those suffering from human rights issues.

How to integrate Project Global Inform into your curriculum: Project Global Inform is an incredible resource and movement that get students involved in impacting their world in real and meaningful ways.  As a result of this project, your students will be more informed about humans rights issues, have a better understanding of social networking and how to virally spread a message, how to use media as a communication tool, how to track web 2.0 data and statistics, collaboration, and reflection.  This would make a great project for an ethics class, but could be used as a transdiciplinary project including literature, math, and technology (to name a few). Project Global Inform literally meets every single level of Blooms Taxonomy from knowledge and understanding to creating, apply, analyzing, and evaluating.

While the project appears to be focused on the middle school or high school age group, I think that it could be tailored to the elementary classroom.  For example, I had my students use Free Rice as the basis for a similar project.  They learned about hunger, created a video slideshow that we uploaded to YouTube and played on Free Rice to earn grains of rice.  If using Project Global Inform with younger students, choose a humans rights issue to study as a class.  Make sure the information you gather is age appropriate.  Students can create posters or pictures for a local coffee shop, create slideshow videos that they upload to YouTube, or hold an information day for the local community.  These are they type of projects that will make an impact on your students and the world.

If you decide to take part in Project Global Inform, make sure you let your local news organizations know about it.  They love covering stories of children impacting the world and it helps spread the message.  Here is our Free Rice story in the local paper.  I can’t tell you how this project transformed these two boys featured in the article. They became “celebrities” in the school and were so proud of their hard work.  Two average students became two of my top students after this project.  Give your students something important and meaningful to do, it makes a huge impact on them.

Tips: Even if you don’t have time for the full project, make sure to take the “Plus Two Pledge”.  As your students are learning about human rights violations have them sign the pledge to tell at least two people about what they have learned.  I told my two…hopefully more are reading this…who are you going to tell?

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Project Global Inform in  your classroom!