Sunday, August 5, 2007

Conversations with Really Bright People

I confess, my new favorite thing, besides twitter, is to talk to people much brighter than myself, and do it in a situation that aides more people around me. For example, I started getting the idea to skype people into my workshops, beginning last week with Konrad, Clay, and Carolyn. This week, I did the same, only I was able to get Steve Dembo of Discovery Education to speak about some of the more "Web 2.0-ey" features of United Streaming. Here is the audio, if you want to listen.

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In addition to Steve, I also asked Carolyn back to talk about one of the digital storytelling projects that she worked on regarding the Vietnam War Memorial and the Virtual Wall. If you haven't seen some of them yet, I highly recommend them to you. One of the most amazing things about the project is that it sneaks up on you. We had just finished our call with Carolyn and were at her blog watching one of the student movies, and we were a wreck afterwards; the movies really touch a chord within you regardless of your age or generation.

In one of the most connected moments I have ever had, Carolyn then skype-chatted us an address to a site where Vietnam Veterans had watched these videos by the students, and took the time to thank them and share more stories about the individuals the students profiled in their videos. As I looked at the site and read the commentary, the vision of school as center of community really began to become clearer. This type of project makes changes happen, forces understanding across generations, and really forges a deeper understanding of community by its members. Bravo Carolyn, and your students too!


Carolyn Foote said...


Thanks for your positive comments about the project. It was really exciting to be able to join your workshop from "afar."

I also want to emphasize that the success of this project depended on a whole team of people, from the campus level to the district level, so I want to credit their work and vision. Credit goes to Becky, Michelle, Sandra, our teachers whose idea started the project in the first place, and Joel, our tech coordinator, and to our library staff, Debby and Beth, and to our staff at central administration.

We were fortunate that the teachers were willing to "take the leap" with us into a much more visible way of sharing their students' work.

But it was the teachers' shared vision, willingness to experiment, and daily support with their students that really brought this to fruition.

And of course, as this was our first go-round, some things were a little more "raw" or unpolished than we or the students would have preferred, probably. And I would have liked to see more of a variety of sources used.

But I believe one of the valuable things about doing the project as video presentations is that it placed the focus on communicating.
I think knowing that there would be an authentic audience for the project added a level of responsibility for the students.

Thanks again for your comments and for sharing the project. We're really looking forward to building on this for next year.

Patrick Higgins said...


It was so great to have you come in again and talk about this project. I even took the time to show my father-in-law and my uncle some of the student videos and veteran responses. They were amazed at the ability of high school students to reach out.

This year, with the experience of last year, this project, or others like it, are going to be anticipated by my staff--they were energized by what is possible.

Thanks again.


Page said...

Hey Patrick - I've enjoyed following your debrief on these workshops and I've tagged you with the 8 random facts meme. see

Melanie Holtsman said...

I enjoy reading your blogposts and have recommended your blog to many colleagues. I have tagged you for the 8 random facts meme.