Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FLAT course and TIME

Time...just as everyone else says, is the commodity that cannot be reproduced.

Wow. Joining the F.L.A.T. classroom course was something that I had considered for a while. I knew that working at United Nations International School (UNIS) while trying to juggle night classes would be a challenge. However, right now I am really trying to just stay afloat. In two weeks I have flown to Bangkok to meet with another teacher about a possible inter-school unit, spent four days at South Saigon International School coaching middle school basketball in the M.I.R.S.A. tournament (we won!), co-authoring a grant for stand up desks in my M.Y.P. classroom, completing two days of in-school professional development (visible thinking workshop) and finishing up an on-line class about creativity at Stanford university. Some days it is enough to make your head spin. However, that is life at an international school like UNIS.

My dedication to concepts of F.L.A.T. is strong, but trying to find enough hours in the day to make it happen have been difficult. Little things like having issues with the Ning (still can't figure out why I have a 12-2 member profile, but it does not appear that way for the administrators) are not fun, but are worth overcoming. We are 8 weeks out from starting our digital citizenship unit with our year 2 M.Y.P. students. I feel like there are parts of our unit that are very worth sharing with the wider F.L.A.T. community. I want to merge that unit with the Digiteen unit that I have heard so much about. I am busy right now prepping a proposal for our principal about the F.L.A.T. conference at Y.I.S. in 2013.

Sometimes it feels like I am taking care of some of the bigger things with the F.L.A.T. course such as keeping up with meetings and readings, but have a hard time checking the Ning everyday. I don't take days off and really have no free time (I love it), but still need to find a better way to meet the requirements.

I will get there. Julie has been great....and I really am enjoying the rest of my cohort. I will get there if I stay positive.
“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” - C.S. Lewis.

That quote came straight out of the textbook for a class I'm taking to become a F.L.A.T. classroom certified teacher. The main ideas behind the development of this course came in part from the Thomas Freedman's book, "The World is Flat." The idea being that technology is creating a level playing surface for individuals and socieites that did not previously exist. Through the internet, people from all over the world now have access to information that was not previously available.
The course itself focuses on how we connect, why we connect, and extending the possibilities of those connections to help students gain the skills that will be essential in the emerging 3.0 job market. The course teaches how to facilitate global collaborations between students and teachers so that we can essentially learn in classrooms without walls.

The course couldn't come at a better time for me. One of my professional goals for this year was to initiate a global collaborative unit with another school. I had been looking because I felt like I had been developing the perfect M.Y.P. unit for a collaborative effort.
Last year my M.Y.P. Year 2 students did a unit on culture. Not just any unit on culture, but a unit on how the values, traditions, and beliefs, shape our identities. The unit started off with some case studies of some of the best fictional cultures that have been created in the last 30 years (Ewoks, World of Harry Potter etc.). After learning about the different aspects of culture students transferred that information and analyzed their own lives.
The third sequence of the unit had groups of students working together to create a totally new culture. They had to develop their own language and numerical systems. Not only did they have to develop these systems they had to also give speeches and write mathematical word problems. From developing histories, fashion, sports and writing their own songs, students really had to think about the interconnectedness between all of these elements. For example, if you decided that your people were the snow tribe people from an icy planet, other elements of that culture would be reflected by the climate of that planet.
Although the unit was a great success, I really wanted to take it to a different place. Fortunately, I ran into a fellow Humanities teacher who was also looking for a global collaboration. After pitching the unit idea to him, he immediately accepted.

The principals and skills that I am learning through the F.L.A.T. classroom course is going to play a large part in the success of this upcoming unit. There is still a long road ahead in terms of planning, but since the unit does not start until the spring, I feel that we are off to a great start.