27 May 2016

Tear Down This Wall! - #100DayProject - Day 057

Image Source: WikiMedia Commons
While I didn't call for a world famous wall to be torn down today, I did help in the #BreakingDownClassroomWalls of a school. I was asked by an amazing young man to visit his class digitally through the power of a Google Hangout (GHO) and read a story to his classmates. And once I got the approval from his teacher, we set to work in preparing for this amazing event. 

You may not see this as anything too amazing, especially if you, like me, regularly have GHOs or Skype sessions with your students and other classes. But today was special because, for four years, this student has been trying to get the okay to bring more digital learning into his classroom. You see, I was able to help a mother finally get through to a school and show them the Internet isn't such a scary place and that Social Media isn't just in the dark corners of the World Wide Web, but is being used every day to help students find a more authentic audience for their learning. I was able to change the world, just a little bit, for one classroom and one teacher. At the end of the GHO, many of the students were saying this was the best day of the year, that it was 200% better than regular school, that they loved school that day. And to think, all it cost was a few minutes of time and a little extra planning for a 200% better day. 

So how did it happen? Let's go back to November 2015 when I first heard about a little thing called the Digital Citizenship Summit and a possibility of going to London, England to present at a conference. I applied and was asked to come and present at the #DigCitSummitUK alongside the amazing Sarah Thomas and co-founder of the event, Marialice BFX Curran. It was amazing! While there in the UK I met a young man who came across the pond with his Mom to share about how he wished he could learn the same way at school that he did at home, using the Internet and digital tools like Social Media. Curran was the hit of the Summit and has since gone on to present at TEDxYouth@BHS and possibly, even more, places. 

I was inspired by Curran's story and told him I'd do anything I could to help in his plight for digital access at school. After returning from the UK, I was involved with a couple of different projects with Marialice with one involving the sharing of stories online via GHOs. I shared with a class at her school and Curran was so upset he couldn't be involved that we started plotting the chance for me to come into his class and share the same book. 

Fast forward a few more months and I received a very excited Vox from Marialice saying she had broken through and Curran's teacher was okay to let me call in and do a Mystery Reader as long as Curran could handle all the technology. I was ecstatic! We were finally about to start the #BreakingDownClassroomWalls project and I was lucky enough to be a part of the process. So we planned the day and time for the call and we even had a practice call yesterday, but I had a little surprise up my sleeve for Curran. While he thought only I was coming into his class today, he was wrong because Marialice and I had also invited the talented Sarah Thomas to join us and totally surprise Curran. And boy was he surprised! He had no idea! We surprised him on multiple fronts today and it was amazing.

We had a blast today and I wanted to share the recording of the GHO with you all. You will only see my face (sorry, I definitely have a face for radio) and Sarah's face, but you won't see Marialice (who was of course there to see this amazing moment happen), Curran, or his class due to a technical issue with the computer, but it's okay because you can still hear them on the other end. So enjoy the #BreakingDownClassroomWalls from today, and remember, never give up on a dream because someone out there has the ability to help, you just have to wait long enough.

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