Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Day of Connecting At Van Meter

Last Thursday was a day of exciting connections at Van Meter.

It all started out at 8:00am before school even started in Shawn Hyer's room. His 7th grade reading class Skyped with Christina Spiezio's 7th graders in New Jersey. They had fun exchanging conversations about the differences between Iowa and New Jersey, books, and made plans for future connections. They are starting a project working together in Edmodo talking about current event articles on Tween Tribune and other sites. I was lucky enough to met Christina and her teaching partner Chuck Poole at #NTCamp Philly last summer. Chuck's students have connected with our 6th graders this year too. Shawn's other class of 7th graders connected in the afternoon with more of Christina's students.

My friend Stephen Gagnon, a 4th grade teacher in Portsmouth, New Hampshire at Strathum Elementary, told me about World Maths Day. On this site, students can play other students from around the world. On March 1st for 48 hours there is a competition for students ages 5-18. Stephen's students have completed thousands of practice problems within the last few weeks at school and home. Since his students are so great at the World Maths Day site we thought it would be fun to have Mr. G's students teach our students about it too. They Skyped in for almost a hour to Cindi Byrne's 4th grade classroom at Van Meter. They introduced themselves, talked about their schools, learned about World Math Day and the site, and at the end after everyone signed into the site, they even played each other. It was such a fun experience for all of the kids.

After the connection with Mr. G's students, the 4th graders went to the elementary computer lab to hear an amazing presentation by Paula Naugle's 4th graders in New Orleans. She contacted me about her students presenting their Mardi Gras projects to our students. They presented to Staci Braun's and Mrs. Byrnes classes. The students in New Orleans showed masks, items from the parades, photographs, told personal stories, and even did a dance at the end. It was so amazing! Our kids asked great questions to their new friends too.

I have been working with Eric Trudo's advanced computer class on a social media unit. After introducing various social networking tools and telling the class about Twitter, which is my favorite, I thought it would be beneficial for them to hear from another educator too. I asked my wonderful friend Steven Anderson @web20classroom to Skyped with Eric's class. Steven spoke to the students about Twitter and other social media tools. He also spoke about his PLN and the power of the connections that he makes every single day through social networks. The students really enjoyed hearing his story and our conversation about the connections we make to enrich the lives of students and teachers within our schools.

All of these connections started when we met each other on Twitter. We collaborate together, share resources, discuss education, and help one another out. We invite these people into our classrooms to teach our students and encourage relationships between our classrooms and schools. Through these connections we are teaching our students about the power of connections, the importance of communication, and the value of friendship.

And this is just one day at Van Meter. I cannot wait to see who "visits" our classrooms and students next.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Celebrating the Power of Words and Stories Through Connections!

On March 9th, we will be celebrating World Read Aloud Day together.

On LitWorld's website, World Read Aloud Day is described as,

"A day to take action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child's right to a safe education and access to books and technology. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world's children that we support their future; they they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world."

So last Friday, we collaborated from Van Meter Community School to Brook Forest Elementary School through Skype and brainstormed a way to connect not only our students, but other students, teachers, and communities around the world.

We are calling our project CELEBRATING THE POWER OF WORDS AND STORIES THROUGH CONNECTIONS. Throughout the day on March 9th, we will be connecting our students and others around the world with amazing books through read aloud's and discussions on Skype. Last night, we connected with seven other educators who are as excited as we are. And this is just a start!

Today we created a wiki to connect everyone, coordinate times, post photographs and videos, and reflect after the event. The wiki is open for others to join. Please feel free to share on the wiki too.

This is going to be an exciting project and one that will make an impact on the lives of our students and others. On LitWorld's website there areseveral activities and a blog to read what others are doing for this special day in their school too. Have fun and remember....our voices can make a difference!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ryan Sloth Visiting Van Meter!

The students at Van Meter are excited to have a very special visitor tomorrow!

Ryan Sloth, author of Sammy Sloth, is coming to speak to the students about being an author and the importance of reading and writing. As his website states, "Ry Sloth introduces children to a youngster who, with the encouragement of his mother, is determined never to give up on his dream. Join Sammy Sloth on his journey to learn the importance of continued effort and hard work to succeed. Children and adults will find themselves cheering Sammy along on his quest to become Sammy Sloth: Sport Superstar!"

Ryan played ball at Iowa State University. He then went on to play arena football for the Columbus Destroyers, Bakersfield Blitz and Iowa Barnstormers. Ryan is currently a defensive and special teams coach for the Barnstormers.

Thank you Ryan for taking the time to visit us! We look forward to learning with you.