June 27, 2007

Mabry online Closing session

Well, we’ve made it to the closing keynote.

The conference is just getting going for me, and now it’s over ;)

But I’ve put faces with names, met some new people, learned a lot, been inspired(thanks Joyce!), and hopefully can face the long line at the airport with a lot to think about.

I won’t be able to stay for Tim Tyson’s whole session, since I have to address busses, trains, and planes, (no automobiles), but I wanted to catch a little of it.

Tyson started by nicely honoring his students.

School 1.0 versus School 2.0

Daniel Pink mentions the maniacal control in schools on rituals, rules and routines.   As we’ve heard all week, also the web 2.0 emphasis on engaging students in engaging activities.  

emphasizing that they wanted to make Mabry

meaningful, significant, connected, but he wants us to move beyond the discussion of connectedness, into how can we make a contribution.

Ask our kids, what do you have to say?

He’s received emails from all over—teachers from Australia came to visit their students, as did Russian students—that international voice is powerful.

I think his question about the contribution is important though.   It is global—we all know how this has changed now, at least we in this audience do.   But…how do we turn that into a positive contribution beyond our walls?

Tyson—the concept of childhood is basically new.  In the past, the family relied on the contribution of the children.  He wants to create a scenario in school where children can make a meaningful and significant contribution.

When does meaningfulness start? When they graduate from high school or college?  When they begin a family?  When do our lives assume a level of significance that really matters?

His answer is today. 

Example—Film festival?   students with a project on stem cell research—wanted to meet with a researcher, who presented to 12 year olds her presentation.   She drilled down to make sure the kids understood the terms.  Their resulting film won a film festival.

projects on human stem cell research, commercializing of pure drinking water, children’s slave labor on the ivory coast, the captivity of elephants.   These are MIDDLE school research projects, by the way.

He’s showing a video that their students made about organ transplants.

They interviewed a researcher at Emory, met an organ donor recipient, researched organ donation—they wanted to encourage organ donation.

"making a movie, that’s like learning on steroids" one of the kids says.

This movie is available on iTunes.  Their movie is unbelievably professional.  Which life is worth more, they ask, as they show various people waiting for organ donations?  while they have a countdown clock running.

Next movie Frankengenes—genetically modified food.

How much is a kid in Africa worth to us? asks another video about Chocolate and exploitation of children.   Students describe at the beginning how they find the project purposeful and important.  You can see they know they are making a difference.

human stem cell research—students split the screen—using the media to create a message just by the design of their film.

I’ve been thinking during the day about some of the sessions I’ve seen which were using wikis, which is fine, but then I wonder—shouldn’t we honor our audiences here with effective visual literacies as well?  Wikis are hard to see on the screen—wikis are great tools for links, and embedding all parts of the presentation but  how can we use them more effectively if we are using them to present sessions?  Larger fonts, more images, colors?

Now he’s inviting his students, Tia, and Josh, on stage.

Josh is sharing how he met teachers from all over the world as a result of his video being online.   He now has a couple of new “toys”—his parents bought him final cut pro so he could edit more films. 

Tia—Malcolm Gladwell once said we learned by example.  There is a real adequacy to verbal instruction.    How many people get to talk to a transplant surgeon for a school movie, she asks?   Why we should get this technology?

Making a movie —we learned so much more about the subjects we were studying.    The movies are making a difference to those who see it.

I have to leave to catch my plane.  Fascinating session.

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