Are your students looking for global connections with other students who are designing their futures? How might we radically enhance student-student global connections to build capacity in our learning ecosystems? Read on!
I had a wonderful skype session yesterday with students and their teacher, Katriona Main, at Albany Senior High School in Auckland, N.Z. As my blog readers know, I have created a bit of a connection with some very leading edge New Zealand school communities. Katriona has been incorporating elements of The Falconer into her “impact design” experiences, so she asked met to chat with some of her students.
Albany has a unique learning program. They have three strands of learning in which the students spend time each day: subject-based content, small group tutorials, and Impact Projects. It was the later that I discussed with the students. Every student selects a project of their own choosing, usually partnering with one or two other students. One young lady talked about the new clothes hangar design she is crafting out of used kitchen utensils; another a dress line made of old ties; a third an Amazing Race experience to introduce underclassmen to the larger community in and around Auckland. The projects must meet just three criteria:
- Substantial learning beyond the classroom
- Create a product/experience
- Engage the community
Other schools in New Zealand and around the world allow their students to engage in similar work. For many these are “capstone” projects that occur in the end of senior year. For a growing number, like Albany, they are part of learning over a much longer period of time. I suggested that, as Albany refines this program they build in a much larger global connection component: student reflection via a class blog and weekly skype or GHO sessions with other students doing similar work to share and give feedback. The New Zealand students can also connect across town with schools like Hobsonville Point, and plan on contributing their work to the now-forming Network For Learning (N4L) database/network of learning resources for New Zealand learners. Some schools in the US that Albany might connect with, where similar work has been going on for several years might include High Tech High in San Diego , Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, and the Nueva School near San Francisco. Many schools I visited on #EdJourney promote impact projects amongst senior high students: a few that come immediately to mind include Parish Episcopal, Greenhill, Christ Church Episcopal, Berkeley Carroll, and Mount Vernon Presbyterian. They might want to discuss a design challenge with Eric Juli’s Design Lab Early College High School students who come from a very different social/economic background, or with students at St. Andrew’s School in Florida who are already working with students in Ghana on a robotics challenge. Or maybe if you have high school students who are engaged in project work like this, one of their projects might be to connect with middle school students at another school and mentor them in their own impact projects. (Design 39 Campus, Ortiz Middle School, Vista Innovation Design Academy, and Los Altos would be great connections!)
Let’s get these bright, passionate kids talking together! No language problems and yes, there are times of the day when we and NZ are in school at the same hour.