Posted by: ketheredge | January 8, 2012

Reflections from Partners in Learning Global Forum–Part 2

The first official day of the forum began with a delightful breakfast.  ( I should just say it now – we were treated like kings and queens; every meal and snack was divine!). We then gathered together for a warm welcome and an introduction to our learning excursion task and teams.  The learning excursions were lessons created by teams of educators that are focused on the topic of water and incorporate the 21st century skills of knowledge building/critical thinking, collaboration, and the use of ICT in learning. In our sessions we learned about Shout!, a partnership between the Smithsonian and Microsoft to provide a forum for students to get civically involved around the globe. We learned the focus was water and that the projects we were creating would be a part of a competition. The winning team gets to attend the Global Forum next year in Greece! (more on the projects later.)

We also heard from Will Richardson.  I have captured his message in the screen captures of my tweets from his talk:

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His message was clear – educators cannot continue to do what they have always done.  To be relevant, we must evolve.  We must create learning environments that engage our students and require them to think deeply and critically about real world problems.  The “real world” is NOW – not after college – and our students are ready to explore it.  His words were energizing and affirming; as I listened, I realized that although I have always said that I have room to grow as a teacher and facilitator of learning, I am further along in the journey that I generally give myself credit.

After lunch, we worked in our teams and began the initial discussions on what type of learning experience we would create.  My teammates are from France, Argentina, Mauritius, Taiwan, and India.  We quickly discovered that we would need help communicating; two of our teammates spoke little English.  Enter Bing translator.  For the rest of the week (and for the last two months), I was able to communicate with my Argentinian and Taiwanese teammates.

After our brainstorming session, we went to set up our booth exhibits.  IMG_0548The U.S. team set up in the Warner Theater because we were going to meet Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, in the morning before his keynote speech.  All of my U.S. teammates were helpful and supportive as we organized our display boards.  It was great to see how the displays had evolved from the U.S. forum.  I, for example, added the common core standards that related to my project after one of my judges from the U.S. forum suggested I include them on my display board.  When we were all finished, we left to prepare for the evening reception.

 

The evening ended with the Opening Reception at the National Museum of American History.  amhistoryWe again were treated like kings and queens.  The food was delicious, the Dixie band was wonderful and when they played “The Saints Go Marching In” I felt right at home (given our school mascot is a saint and our band plays that song at every football game. Winking smile)  I also talked to the Secretary of the Smithsonian, Wayne Clough, who shared that one of his favorite exhibit is the Jefferson Bible.  It was a wonderful night visiting with amazing educators and getting to know them better.

It was another great day.  I couldn’t imagine anything better, but there was more to come!  Smile

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