Ok…sit down before you check this out.
If you want to see the potential of what we can do with this stuff, take a look at what Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis have created in their Flat Classroom Project. Julie, who is at the International School Dhaka in Bangladesh, and Vicki who is at Westwood High in Georgia, have collaborated on an amazing undertaking that will connect their kids in a study of the 10 Flattners from Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat. In small groups comprised of students from both schools, they’ll be taking the next few weeks to really dig into what’s happening in the two countries from a global perspective and report out in a variety of ways using Read/Write Web tools. In the end, if the grading rubric is any indication, these kids will know a heck of a lot more about their places in the world, the complexities of the age, and the ways in which these tools are changing the way we do business in more than one sense.
Pinch me, but is there all of a sudden a little string of interesting examples of Read/Write Web projects coming together? I know…this example in particular is the result of some amazing and intensive planning. (Did I mention the rubric?) But it makes clear what I think are the two most important aspects of using these tools…first, we have to stop seeing our classrooms as spaces with four walls. Teachers must be willing to be connectors. And second, in the context of those connections, we can give our students real, meaningful, relevant opportunities to teach the rest of us what they know. The fact that the work of these students will be published in its many forms to the world as a whole is just so radically removed from the ways most educators still look at what happens in the classroom. If we are simply content to shuffle paper back and forth only for the sake of slapping an assessment on the work, we are doing our students a grave disservice.
Go and listen to the voices of these kids. (And don’t forget the rubric.) And trumpet this work far and wide. Perhaps Thomas Friedman, who actually sent Julie an e-mail acknowledging the project, will be impressed enough to really give this community a boost (like maybe an op-ed piece in the New York Times???)
Congratulations Julie and Vicki…can’t wait to see what happens next.