Sunday, February 5, 2012

Horn Tooting: Yea or Nay

Did you know that this past Wednesday, February 1, 2012, was "Digital Learning Day?" I learned about it from my Twitter feed (my "go to" for all things worth knowing). I signed up right away and so my students were among the almost 2,000,000 that participated. I'm all for taking part in special days at school. For some reason, it makes an ordinary day seem special by giving it some title like "National Day" and the students will be excited and more willingly engaged. Digital Learning Day was promoted by the Wisconsin DPI. Educators who signed up received emails with ideas for lessons and as the day approached, daily "count down" emails arrived. I hope that there were people who tried new things in their classrooms and libraries. Something I wanted to try for quite a while was a Mystery State Skype. I was able to arrange a couple and they were very exciting. Through Twitter (yes...and I'll keep mentioning it) I managed to use my contacts for setting up the Skype sessions. My students were thrilled to generate various clues about Wisconsin, put them in order from least obvious to most obvious, and be ready to share them with other students. They were focused and worked as a team under the time crunch. During the Skype calls, they again were focused so they wouldn't miss any of the clues given. Connecting our little rural Kickapoo classroom to places around the nation is so powerful and memorable for my students. This is what it's all about. This day was something to look forward to for my friend and co-worker, Jen Malphy (aka @jmalphy) and I, but we half laughed when we realized that we really weren't doing much different that we do on any other given day. What was different though, was that we documented what happened. We took photos of students working in our classes and in others. We told the students that it was Digital Learning Day and their faces lit up with excitement. (Our apple-like students haven't failen far from their tree-like teachers, have they?) We gave interviews to one of the writers for the school newspaper and Jen is putting together a media piece with the photos to "tell the story" so that they Board of Education sees what innovative education happens within the walls of Kickapoo on a daily basis. We have decided that shameless "horn tooting" is a necessary component of today's teaching world - at least for us. So, when should you be "tooting your horn" and about what? We all have something to let it be known.