Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sick Daze

It was Project for Awesome week when a teacher-friend and Mom to one of my students stopped by my classroom. Her daughter, a tenth grader, delightful, studious and hard working, her daughter had the flu. "Influenza type A," she said to me between classes while I stood on the steps to my classroom. "She had the swab and everything." 

Really? Really? 

 I'd gotten a flu shot and a tetnus shot just the day before. I punctured my head with a roof nail getting Christmas down from the attic. My last tetnus shot was more than a decade old and the nurse talked me into the flu shot as bonus protection. The shot would not "go live" for seventy-two hours the nurse warned. Seriously? 

We disinfected the classroom. We used two containers of Lysol wipes (family sized). We wiped keyboards and chair backs and tables and book shelves. We washed hands and sanitized pens and pencils.

It was like some sort of don't-get-sick voodoo. 

Fortunately, I have time to make soup and breathe steam and sleep on the couch ensconced in quilts my mother made. I have plenty of books laid in, a cuddly puppy and holiday left overs. 

Even sick, winter break is glorious.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Students Rocked P4A

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We had an amazing Project for Awesome this month. Now in its eighth year, the Project for Awesome is a global charity drive founded by Hank and John Green that happens on YouTube. A team of dedicated people organize and launch the annual fundraiser: programmers, web designers, code writers, entertaining hosts and more. This year the Project for Awesome raised 1.2 million dollars for charity!

This year, many students started thinking and planning their projects during our Thanksgiving break. Some even got in touch with their charities then and began corresponding. I am delighted with the work they did. For many students, these were the first videos they had ever created and uploaded to YouTube. There were 1,000 videos created globally for the Project for Awesome. Our students created 41 of those thousand

There were a lot of great moments this Project for Awesome, but the moments that show cased my students' learning just sparkle. One student group's video was featured during the Project for Awesome live streaming event. The live stream event is like a virtual telethon variety show. Think Jerry Lewis meets YouTube without camera cuts to the call center. Laura, Sira and Samantha’s video in support of Three Avocados garnered the attention of thousands during the live stream and encouraged many to vote in support of their charity. Straight forward, well-structured and original, see their video here.

Samantha, Laura and Sira were amazed at Nerdfighters' comments. Amazed and at first a little confused. Their class period on Project for Awesome day was over before the live stream began, so they did not have a clear understanding of how listening to the live stream and commenting together on videos worked. I explained that Nerdfighters have conversations with each other and the live stream hosts in comments, so that some comments are talking to those audiences and other comments are actually aimed at the video creators. The comment that sticks with me is one from Josh who wrote: "further proof that you don't need high production quality to make a great P4A viceo. Clean writing and a lovely style." Yes! 

Everyone in class cheered for the girls: spontaneous outbreak of applause equals awesome. Not only did students' efforts at script writing pay off, so did their work promoting their videos. Not every group reached out to the organizations they chose, but several did. Students who made those connections came away from the project with deeper understandings. 

 Kamisha worked with Sara, Katelyn, Abida, and Fernando to create a Project for Awesome video featuring The Prem Rawat Foundation TPRF. They contacted the charity, the charity posted and promoted their video on Facebook. The foundation posted their video multiple times and students were amazed at the response from the community. They earned more than 5,000 likes on Facebook and more than 100 shares--that's more than the population of our entire school! 

Kamisha communicated professionally and enthusiastically with The Prem Rawat Foundation. With original photography and video clips as well as excellent voice over work and writing, see their video here.

It gets better. The Board of Directors contacted Kamisha this week and invited her to speak to an international gathering of organization members via video conference call. She is looking forward to the opportunity. And what a great opportunity it will be to speak about how she and her group members are working to make the world a better place. 

Authentic audiences, real-world work, purposeful use of digital tools to share and publish written arguments, take away lessons from the Project for Awesome give back to us all year.  It takes us out of our selves and focuses our attention on issues with real import. 

Thank you John and Hank Green and the Project for Awesome team. Thank you Nerdfighteria. Thank you DFTBA volunteers. Thank you to the Foundation to Decrease World Suck. Thank you, thank you. My students rocked Project for Awesome this year. They, and you all,  just amaze me.