Sunday, February 23, 2014

Global Citizenship, Service Learning & PBL at the NAIS Annual Conference!

Hey folks, it's been a while since I've posted.  A third child will do that to you.  I've also been getting way into video editing and have stayed up many a late night working on a video about a recent expeditionary learning trip I took to Belize with 12 of my amazing students.  Check it out!

But really, what I'm most excited about right now is an opportunity I have this Friday (8:00am - "Challenge 20/20: Engaging Students as Global Citizens") to give a 1-hour workshop on my experience with Challenge 20/20 in my classrooms.  This will be at the annual conference of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), this year in Orlando.  A big deal, and I've got a whole pile of reasons to be psyched:

  1. What an opportunity to network professionally!  I'm so ready to learn everything I possibly can from everybody I meet.  This has got to be the most exciting time in history to be in the world of education, and this conference is drawing the growing masses of teachers who are jazzed up to think big about teaching and learning.
  2. I get to present with a wonderful teacher from North Broward Prep in FL named Priscila Torres.  She's had her own set of experiences with Challenge 20/20 - experiences that neatly compliment my own.
  3. I also get to present with two of my students who have participated in Challenge 20/20 with me.  This program is all about students understanding the big global challenges of today and feeling empowered to find solutions.  Clearly, students should play a significant role in this workshop!
But what of Challenge 20/20 and this NAIS Conference workshop?  Challenge 20/20 is a program run by NAIS that matches a US classroom with an overseas classroom and assigns them one of twenty global problems to address.  Last year my 10th grade class was partnered with International School Suva in Fiji to address global infectious diseases (watch our video).  This year my seniors were partnered with Mzuzu Academy, Malawi to address biodiversity and ecosystems losses (See our Solutionaries Podcast Project).  It's global citizenship, service learning and project-based learning all wrapped up together!  The testimonials from the students say it all.

Why is this program and workshop important?  Well, speaking from the experience of a teacher, there's a maelstrom of exciting, dynamic ideas in the world of education today . . . but little to support teachers in the experimentation and adoption of new pedagogy.  For example, a teacher may want her classroom to collaborate internationally, but how exactly does that teacher find a partner school?  The role of Challenge 20/20 is to support teachers in connecting and finding resources.  Even with Challenge 20/20 it's not all smooth sailing, and that is part of the workshop as well.

If you're in Orlando at the conference this week then please join us Friday morning at 8.  I would love to meet you, to hear what you have been trying in your own classroom, and see how we might collaborate!