Tuesday, November 27, 2012

“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.

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