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Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Five: 5 things I learned this week

Every Friday I try to take a few minutes out to consider what I have learned this week. This time around I feel that this was a particularly rich week of learning, but I will stick to the five outstanding items that come to mind.

1. I met up with about 20 teachers from around the Greater Bay Area for the first of two meetings about the use of technololgy in our independent schools. At first I questioned my role in this group as I was the only content-classroom teacher there and I don't easily consider myself a "technologist" per se. But as the day progressed and moved away from introductions, I did find that I had ideas and experiences to contribute (particularly my experience with Twitter and student blogging). So I learned that I am not merely a "classroom" teacher once again.

2.  I learned about .  We used this site to place virtual stickies on a wall to figure out our tech interests and how to best group them. I saw this as a very useful tool for my 7th and 8th graders. For example, we could reach the end to an unit and use Wallwisher to brainstorm a list of topics covered and questions we still have. I could also post a question and the students could post their answers. Using the Smartboard, we could review all this as a group. I see great value in this!

3.  I also learned about . It is somewhat like Inspiration in that you can create mind maps, but it is web based and collaborative in nature. We used it to take notes on our own discussion. Like Wallwisher, I can imagine using this in class as a review tool in a collaborative sense.

4.  I have almost learned the "Iron Fan" Kata 2 in my current blue green karate belt. This is a very complicated kata and while I don't do it well yet, I do have a good sense of what is involved. I once again learned that with perseverance and the ability to break down a task to smaller components, I can learn very complicated things. I continue to believe that this is the nature of human spirit and that ALL my students can and should experience this in their schooling.

5.  This week I learned about the incredible tragedy in Haiti. I relearned a creole word "Kombit" meaning "collective effort for the good of the community". I know that Haiti is plagued by a terribly corrupt political and economic system. I also know that they are showing remarkable "kombit" as they try to deal with the destruction all around them. I watch their story on CNN and CNN iPhone with compassion and sadness. Yesterday I followed the story of a 11 year old girl who was trapped by one leg. The dilemma was whether to wait for heavy equipment to come (not very likely) or amputate her leg. The look in her eye was intense and fierce. I thought of my own son, 9 years old, and what he would do in a similar situation. By the evening, though, perhaps because of the CNN report, appropriate equipment did arrive and she was freed. It is the spirit of "kombit" that I want to ponder on this weekend.

How do I help or hinder this same spirit in my own classroom on a daily basis?

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