Learning Is Irregular

http://iteach-and-ilearn.blogspot.com/2013/03/school-and-life.html
http://iteach-and-ilearn.blogspot.com/2013/03/school-and-life.html
Outside of school, most people apply learning across disciplines, scenarios, and experiences. For a majority of our lives as students, we are taught in a system that creates blocks of time for learning specific content, much like the factory model of production. However, learning should be life and there is nothing linear about life.

Life is irregular—thus, learning is irregular.

We are in the midst of one of the most disruptive, yet exciting times in history: The Information Age. The rate of change has increased exponentially due to the rapid creation of new content that is produced as technology and life have become seamless. The rate of change continues to have an impact on our education system because students today, or Generation Z, have only known life with touch screen technology. Vast amounts of information is readily available to them with the touch of a button or finger swipe across a screen. They are also creating more content than any generation in history, thus they learn in some fundamentally different ways than we are used to.

The linear, factory system of education is counter to the messy, irregular, and creative learning process that our students have grown accustomed to outside of school. Following are three key points to consider as we are challenged to meet the needs of Generation Z.

1. Asynchronous technology makes learning a constant activity. With the emergence of online learning platforms and social networking, students are able to connect, communicate, and collaborate with their teachers and peers to extend learning beyond the walls of the schoolhouse and school day. Time, space, and location are now variables in the learning process whereas they used to be constants. Author Daniel Pink wrote in the Foreword to the book, The New Social Learning,
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The use of technology greatly enhances students’ power to learn on their own time, in their own space, and in much deeper ways than ever before. So, let’s embrace it!

2. We must change how we deliver content due to shorter attention spans. We have quickly become a “sound-bite” society in that we are used to chunks of information shared in a compelling manner. MultimediaGen Z takes in thousands of digital images and messages a day, so to make learning more relevant to them, we must not only incorporate all forms of multimedia, but empower students to create and integrate multimedia to demonstrate their learning. If we adopt the use of technology in the classroom, this is a natural byproduct.

3. Focus on global skills development through the content we teach. It is often said that Gen Z will change careers 10-14 times before they retire. If this is true, it is impossible to teach them all the content they will need to be prepared for life. Global SkillsWe must consider ways to develop the four key global skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking through our specific content areas. Another approach would be to create interdisciplinary courses that provide students the opportunity to apply content in meaningful ways. We should also integrate technology to help students determine what local, regional, national, and global problems they want to solve. This will, without a doubt, create the conditions for students to develop the necessary skills that transcend careers and jobs.

As we grapple with how to catch up to the changing times that occur in every industry outside of our own, we must consider the messy, irregular, and nonlinear learning process and embrace strategies that empower students to demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways.

Be Great,

Dwight


Ideas from What’s in Your Space? 5 Steps for Better Schools and Classrooms by Dwight Carter, Gary Sebach, and Mark White, to be published by Corwin Press in March 2016; available at Amazon

Today’s Professional Development

http://groveland.spps.org/uploads/hanging_light_bulbs.jpg
http://groveland.spps.org/uploads/hanging_light_bulbs.jpg
Access to and opportunity for professional development for educators has grown exponentially due to the use of technology, the need for more relevant and timely learning, and a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional model of “sit and get.” There are more options besides attending professional conferences. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy attending quality professional conferences to listen to dynamic speakers, attend a variety of breakout sessions, present, and connect with other educators to discuss hot topics in education and share best practices. There are also many other ways we can engage in meaningful and relevant learning experiences on our own time, at our own pace, and in the place of our choosing. We have to come to accept that learning is a 24/7/365 endeavor not bound to traditional office hours. Technology has flattened the traditional professional development model by providing so many opportunities for those who want to take responsibility for their own growth and development. Following are six effective professional development strategies that are on the rise for educators.

1. Webinars– Webinars are web-based presentations where participants register for and login at a specific time to interact with a presenter and and other presenters. Edweb.net provides a variety of webinars four to five days a week and there is a list of communities educators can join that are relevant to them. Most of all, they are free and typically occur after the school day. I’ve facilitated a webinar for Edweb.net and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The moderator managed the questions so we were able to have an interactive and engaging dialogue about the topic. I encourage perusing this site and consider joining a community that interests you.
2. Podcasts– Podcasts are web-based interactive conversations about a particular topic. Most podcasts are recorded live and archived for future use. One that I enjoy is PrincipalCast, hosted by Dr. Spike Cook, Theresa Stagner, and Jessica Johnson. These are weekly podcasts that include guest presenters that provide their thoughts and best practices about topics like implementing the Common Core State Standards, teacher evaluations, life after the principalship, pedagogical strategies, technology integration, and so much more. I also recommend you read this article for a list of 51 podcasts for educators.
3. Twitter Chats– A Twitter chat is a topic-based discussion on Twitter that is curated using a specific hashtag. Thousands of educators participate in weekly chats and school districts are starting to host their own chats in order to continue conversations outside of the school day. If you are going to participate in a Twitter chat, I encourage you to use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to allow you to follow the thread of comments. Check out this calendar of the most popular Twitter chats, which was created by @cybraryman1.
4. Blogging– Blogging is a way to make one’s learning visible because it’s a reflective process about ones thoughts, ideas, successes, and struggles. There are many free blog sites, such as Edublogs, Blogger, and WordPress that many educators use for their own professional and personal growth. A few blogs I often read are:
a. A Principal’s Reflections by Eric Sheninger
b. Connected Principals: Sharing. Learning. Leading
c. DCulberhouse: Engaging in Conversation Around Education and Leadership by David Culberhouse
d. Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell
e. Life of an Educator by Dr. Justin Tarte
f. RaFranz Davis: Social Learner. Tech Specialist. Digital Diva by RaFranz Davis
g. The Jose Vilson by Jose Vilson
h. The Principal of Change by George Couros
i. This Is Seth’s Blog by Seth Godin

https://www.mnnonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/VictoriaEstrella.com_collaboration-10-01-14.jpg
https://www.mnnonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/VictoriaEstrella.com_collaboration-10-01-14.jpg

5. YouTube– It is reported that YouTube is the third largest search engine in the world! Needless to say, if there is a topic you want to learn more about, search YouTube and I’m certain you will find a few videos that will increase your knowledge about a particular topic. Even better, you could create your own YouTube Channel to share your expertise with others.
6. Skype– Skype removes time and distance as barriers and provides a means to engage in a conversation with a group of people or individuals to discuss relevant topics. Additionally, it provides a simulated “face-to-face” interaction that is still important to have.
7. Google Hangout– Google is flattening the collaborative efforts by providing asynchronous means to dialog, discuss, and communicate about topics of interest. Many schools have created Google Hangouts for teachers to continue relevant discussions and share best practices that improve student learning.
8. VoxerVoxer is an app that is on the rise in the world of connected educators. It allows for the same type of connectivity as Twitter, but it allows users to create groups for participants to actually chat live. The messages can be saved and archived for future reference. I’ve recently created a Voxer account and have joined the Digital Leadership and NASSP15 groups to keep in contact with other like-minded leaders. Other examples of how Voxer is used include book studies, interviews, and topic based discussions.

These are just a few examples of relevant professional development and you may notice that they are tech-based. However, these do not replace the importance and power of face-to-face collaborative learning among peers. Consider adding one or two to your toolbox as you continue along on your journey as a life-long learner!

Be Great,

Dwight

10 Ways Principals Can Use Twitter to Enhance Stakeholder Engagement

twitter-apple-keyboardBefore I joined the Twitterverse, I was critical of its use and, quite frankly, was turned off by the concept all together. I often read and watched what seemed like ridiculous stories of what celebrities shared about their lives from the foods they ate, who they had lunch with, or whom they were dating. I saw no purpose for it all. However, all that changed about four years ago when my former district embarked on a digital journey.

I had the opportunity to participate in an intense, three-day social media boot camp facilitated by Debra Jasper and Betsy Hubbard, founders of Mindset Digital. They showed the participants a number of ways to harness the power of Web 2.0 tools to share stories, improve communication strategies, engage students, and improve instruction to meet the needs of today’s learners. What was even more significant is that they showed us how other educators were using these tools on a daily basis to make their teaching and learning visible to the world. It was overwhelming and exciting at the same time. I gravitated towards Twitter and have learned 10 ways I could use it as a building principal:

1. Visible Learning– Concise and thoughtful messages posted on Twitter in real-time about what teachers and students are experiencing in classrooms, in extracurricular activities, or in service-learning projects creates a window into the world of your school. It increases the level of transparency that removes the mystery of school.
2. Highlight teachers– What gets recognized gets repeated, so sending out tweets about the amazing lesson ideas that teachers come up with shines a much deserved light on those whom positively change lives and impact futures.
3. Storytelling– We learn best through story, and Twitter gives a principal a chance to tell brief stories about the activities that go on daily. To enhance visibility, simply create a hashtag for your school, encourage others to use it, and begin posting to Twitter.
4. Expand One’s Personal Learning Network– It is often said that, “The smartest person in the room is the room.” Twitter gives a principal the opportunity to connect with educators outside of the school to learn about pedagogical strategies, connect with educational thought leaders, and communicate with other principals who are doing similar work.
5. Participate in Twitter Chats– A Twitter chat is an easy way to engage a meaningful exchange of ideas, approaches, and hot topics in education. There are a number of chats nearly every day of the week!
6. Start a Twitter Chat For Your Building and/or District-Principals can set up a Twitter chat for his/her school or district as a way to extend staff meeting conversations, discuss relevant articles, or have a book study. The possibilities are endless! Ask a few teachers to join in and off you go!
7. Communicate/Interact With Students– Besides interacting with students in the hallways, classrooms, and events, sharing daily messages via Twitter is an easy way to connect with a large group of students in a short amount of time. Remember to pause before you post.
8. Share Daily Words of Wisdom– I start nearly every day with a brief tweet of words of wisdom. I get the daily messages from a book entitled, 8,789 Words of Wisdom. It starts the day on a positive note for me and for those who receive them.
9. Provide Extracurricular Updates– Principals attend many extra-curricular events and one of the best ways to promote your school is to tweet highlights while at a sporting event, Science Olympiad, etc. Students, parents, and other staff members appreciate the real-time updates. The participants in the activities really appreciate it as well!
10. Post Links To Articles/Blogs– Share articles and blogs that are aligned with building goals, professional goals, or that challenge your thinking. This is one the best ways to contribute to others’ learning as well because what you post may spark an idea, provide the support they need to press on, or launch a new initiative.

I didn’t begin by doing all 10 of the strategies listed, nor should you. Pick one and try it out. Over time, using Twitter will become a part of your daily routine because you will recognize the positive impact it has on creating a culture of learning, sharing, connecting, and story telling.

Be Great,

Dwight

Flipping, Follow Up, Modeling, and Reflection

Flipped-ClassroomAt Gahanna Lincoln High School, several teachers have implemented the Flipped Classroom model. They and Assistant Principal, Aaron Winner (@aaronwinner), shared their Flipped experiences at our January staff meeting and the response was very positive. Their presentation was well-organized, engaging, and reflective of their learning.

Whenever I get a chance, I ask staff about how things are going, especially during informal conversations. I’ve recently asked about professional development needs and a number of times I heard a similar response, “We love all the presentations at staff meetings, but there is no follow up. We get excited about what we see and hear, but we aren’t given any time to try it or to came back later to talk about it.” I appreciate their feedback because they expressed a desire to learn, so I need to provide the conditions for that to take place. This caused me to peruse my notes from the book, 10-Minute In-Service, by Todd Whitaker (@ToddWhitaker) and Annette Breaux (@AnnetteBreaux). I knew I had to do something to address the concerns of a lack of time and a lack of follow up.

Follow-UpMy Dean of Curriculum, Tia Holliman (@Ms._Holliman) and I discussed this in great detail as our March staff meeting approached because I wanted to do more than just talk about the Flipped Classroom as an effective instructional strategy, I wanted to model it. I noticed there is a significant amount time that I or others talk at our staff during our meetings as opposed to us interacting, engaging each other in meaningful conversation, or participating in learning experiences that would excite them to teach the next day. Todd Whitaker and Annette Breaux put it this way, “Teachers should leave faculty meetings more excited about teaching tomorrow than they were today.”

As Tia and I planned the March staff meeting, my goals were to model my expectations for posting learning targets, model the flipped strategy, and model how to bring closure to a lesson with some type of formative assessment. I sent the following details to my staff a day or two before our March staff meeting:

Please take 6 minutes some time before the meeting on March 4th to watch the TEDTalk: 3 Rules to Spark Learning, and be prepared to discuss some of the following questions:
 
*How do you encourage students to ask questions in class?
*“Student questions are the seed to real learning.” What are the implications of this statement?
*How is “the messy process of trial and error” a part of the learning process in your class?
*How do you incorporate reflection in your class?
*Teachers are the “cultivators of curiosity and inquiry.” What are the implications of this statement?
 
You will have the opportunity to select as a group, 1 or 2 questions you want to discuss. Thanks in advance for being prepared.
 

I also shared the TEDTalk with my staff in my weekly Friday Focus blog, but they are not required watch the videos I share or the articles I include. However, as we continue to change instructional practices to transition to the New Learning Standards, it was important for us to discuss this TEDTalk since the presenter shares ways that will help us with this transition.

As the activity began, the following learning target was displayed on the screen:

I can identify two ways I spark student learning in my classroom.

We briefly discussed our target, I explained the directions, and they organized themselves into interdepartmental groups of 8-10 people. I displayed the questions on the screen that are mentioned above and the rich conversations began.

As I walked around the room, I was excited about what I heard. I was also impressed by those who were able to focus on what they could do as opposed to succumbing to discussing barriers to learning (perceived or real). After about 12 minutes, I distributed a 3×5 notecard and gave them two minutes to answer the following question:

What are two ways you spark learning in the classroom?

I collected the notecards and had the responses compiled into a word document, which I then shared with staff via Google Docs within a couple of days. They now have a list of over 100 different ways to spark learning in the classroom. It was a quick 15 minute in-service about effective instructional strategies that can be easily implemented on a regular basis.

Be Great,


Dwight

images:
follow up: http://www.vapartners.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Follow-Up.png
flipped classroom: http://podcast.teachercast.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Flipped-Classroom.jpg

Reluctant or Resistant?: Day 2 Reflections from the Jostens Renaissance National Conference

http://bit.ly/18f2RIJ
http://bit.ly/18f2RIJ
I’ve had the opportunity to present at several conferences or workshops the last couple of years about how we, at GLHS, use social media to tell our story. Each time I share examples, tell stories, and start with our “why” I notice two different responses: 1. Arms crossed, furrowed brow, and a blank stare as if to say, “this will never work in my school or district” 2. Pen frantically attacking the paper, head nodding in agreement, and hands raised with questions. I get it. I’ve had both reactions and have come to embrace, promote, encourage, and model the use of social media to share stories, highlight staff, make connections, and engage in the learning process through “chats.”

Inevitably, I am approached by teachers at the end of each session who ask, “how do I get my administration to allow mobile devices at school or to embrace the use of social media?” The look of despair in their eyes reminds me that while many educators across the globe use social media and web 2.0 tools to increase learning opportunities, to connect with others, engage learners, and share information, there are far too many who are still reluctant or resistant to it altogether.

Change is difficult, especially when thinking about having to change a mindset. However, we must continue to share successful stories of how teachers and students are using social media to positively change lives and impact futures. We can start by looking within our own building. We can then promote what other educators and students are doing from other districts. The more we share, the better the chance we have of turning reluctance and resistance into openness and acceptance.

If you are an administrator who has jumped on the social media bandwagon, tell your story in the comment section below. If you are resistant or reluctant, what questions do you have? In the meantime, take a look at the this video, which shows the impact social media has on our lives.

Be Great,

Dwight

Blended Learning at GLHS

The concept of blended learning has become a hot topic in a relatively short time. As more states are looking at ways to make technology integration a part of the learning process, blended learning has gained momentum. This momentum has been created because of our need to adapt to a technologically connected and digital world in which we now live.

In June, 2013, Ohio Governor, John Kasich, chose Gahanna Lincoln High School’s Clark Hall to announce his blended learning initiative (Ohio SB 316). We were chosen because Governor Kasich recognized Clark Hall as a hub of blended learning and 21st Century learning. So that we are all operating with the same definition of blended learning, following is how blended learning is described in Ohio SB 316:

“…the delivery of instruction in a combination of time in a supervised physical location away from home and online delivery whereby the student has some element of control over time, place, path, or pace of learning.”

Even though Clark Hall is a model of blended learning today, our blended learning journey began about seven years ago when we had two teachers who designed their courses (an English 11 course and an Accounting course) in such a way that students did not have to attend class every day. They solidified a grant to get a set of laptop computers, designed a course on Moodle, and were free to explore. Students had to earn the right to use flex time (time outside of the normal class period) by meeting the agreed upon standards (grades, attendance, etc.) and they excelled.

Fast forward to the last two years, several GLHS teachers (Ryan Kitsmiller @rkitsmiller, Dwayne Marshall @marshall133, Katie Anderson @kpa12, Fred Donelson @mrdglhs to name a few) have created blended learning environments by using Google Apps or Moodle to house their course content. This fall, five teachers, including two previously mentioned, took a class to learn how to develop an online course. Through this class, they either enhanced their skill or learned to develop an engaging and rigorous course beyond just making worksheets digital. Three of the teachers have recently launched their blended courses. We will soon have several courses where students will have the option to take it completely as an online course.

The key components of blended learning include:
*Connectivity- access to web with a mobile device is essential because it makes learning an anytime, anywhere event.
*Relevant course content-student voice and choice in how they want to learn and present their learning.
*Engaging material, such as videos, blogging, inquiry-based questions.
*Collaboration- the opportunity for students to work together to solve problems and assist one another anytime, anywhere digitally.
*Feedback- teacher and peer feedback on blogs or other web 2.0 sites
*Time Management-students must plan according to maximize their time

Blended learning is not just the future of education, it’s our current reality as we have integrated technology, provided relevant professional development, and created an environment that is focused on learning.

Be Great,

Dwight

Reflections from the ITSCO Education Everywhere Symposium

Last week, I attended the ISTCO Education Everywhere Leadership Symposium in Worthington, OH. The focus of the symposium was on ways school administrators can lead the integration of technology, including mobile devices and web 2.0 tools, to transform teaching and learning. The keynote presenter, George Couros, creator of connectedprincipals.com, had a powerfully moving presentation about how technology can help us humanize school even more because of the ability to share stories. Story has always been, and will continue to be, a way to make connections and create community. Creating a community where everyone feels they belong is one of our goals at LHS, so his presentation was fitting. Also, we’ve emphasized technology integration the last couple of years as a way to increase relevance in the classroom. With that said, technology is not the only way to increase relevance or create community. It is a way, however, to enhance relevance and community. Following are three personal takeaways from George’s presentation:

1. We have to provide opportunities for students to create, connect and share content with a much broader, global audience using the technology. As we harness the power of social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr, we model appropriate ways to make our learning public and transparent. The more comfortable we are using these tools, the more likely we are to integrate these tools with our students. At GLHS, we allow students to use their mobile devices, so let’s show them how to use them to connect with experts in a particular field or connect with a group of students in another state or country.

2. Schools will continue to be relevant as long as we focus on humanizing the content. This basically means that as we harness the power of technology, use it to tell stories about our learning, share our struggles and successes, and connect with one another beyond the traditional means of email, we will continue to expand the learning for our students. Technology will not or does not replace face to face interaction; rather, it enhances this interaction. For example, I’ve interacted with George via Twitter and blogging before we met face-to-face. Our face-to-face meeting was like seeing an old friend as opposed to being introduced to a stranger. He lives in Canada and I live in Ohio. I am a better administrator because of what I’ve learned from him, about him and his school using social media.

3. “Learning and sharing is synonymous.” Daniel Pink states that learning is a social event. Therefore, harnessing tools such as Twitter, blogs, and other means of digital storytelling enhances the learning experiences for everyone involved. We can add to each other’s experiences as we reflect on our practice using a blog, comment on one another’s blogs, engage in professional conversation via Twitter chats, and willingly share our experiences with others. The more we’ve done this, the more comfortable we’ve become with our students sharing their learning experiences in a positive ways.

In addition to the keynote presentation, the symposium was organized into six sessions of table talks, with five talks to choose from per session. I liked this format because it provided opportunities for the facilitators of the table talks to engage the participants in meaningful conversations about our craft. For example, some of the table talk topics were:

• Blended Learning (Reynoldsburg ESTEM Academy)
• Design Standards for Online/Blended Learning: Quality Matters (ESC of Central Ohio)
• Comparing Mobile Technologies and Preparing for a 1:1 Environment (St. Joseph Academy)
• Conversations with the keynote, George Couros
• From Ohio to the World (Jackson High School)
• Professional Development Without Walls (Westerville City Schools)
• Design Thinking: Technology (Delaware High School)

There were so many nuggets I gleaned from the symposium, but my biggest “aha” or takeaway was more of a question than a statement: “Are we using technology in an adaptive or transformative way?” For example, adaptive use of technology is having students use a laptop or other mobile device to create a document instead of using pencil/pen and paper. An example of a transformative way is to use technology to create or remix content in new and meaningful ways. The more transformative we are, and allow our students to be, the more relevant and rigorous learning will be. George summed it up best when he said, “with technology we all can be teachers and learners.” As we embrace this, just look at what we are becoming! Feel free to comment about any of the information. I look forward to hearing what your reflections are.

Be Great,

Dwight

“Get Off The Phone!”

“Get off the phone!” This is something my mom would yell at me, my brother, and sister when we growing up. It was a time when the landline house phone was our way to connect with our friends and family when we weren’t at school or visiting their homes. We would jockey for the phone because whoever got to it first stayed on it the longest.

Fast forwarding to today I hear this statement more than ever. I hear it at home, at school, and I hear it from other educators. However, I don’t believe it’s a relevant complaint these days. A phone today is not just a phone, but a powerful mobile device with access to an abundance of information and operation tools. Accessing this information is only part of the equation; the other parts are reading, researching, creating, and sharing information.

So, when you see someone using their “phone,” they very well could be reading a book, article, blog, connecting with their personal learning network via Twitter or Skype, researching, creating a digital story, preparing for a presentation, or reading the newspaper. In short, they could be…. learning. How can one get upset with that?

Be Great,

Dwight

Community University: Engage Parents and Community with Tech Classes

Early during the 2010-2011 school year, my Principals Advisory Council came up with the idea to engage parents and community members by teaching technology classes once a month. We were cognizant of a potential gap that was occurring in terms of technology tools our students use, we use, and our parents use. If we were having difficulty keeping up, we figured our students’ parents and community members were too.

As we were planning what “Community University” would look like, I read a blog post written by Burlington High School Principal, Patrick Larkin, about the technology classes his school offered to parents. I knew we were on to something! To decide which classes to offer, I surveyed the staff to find out what classes they would be willing to teach and from there, created a schedule and class description for parents. The next step was to inform parents and make it happen!

We launched Community University in October, 2011 with a Facebook 101 class and it was a hit! Our orchestra teacher along with our district Chief Communications Officer facilitated the class for about two dozen parents. Parents were very appreciative of our efforts and left excited about the new information they learned. We saw it as opportunity for them to engage their students in a conversation about digital citizenship as well.

Community University classes are offered the first Monday of each month for an hour. We now offer two classes each month and since October,  we have held a resume writing class, understanding Google Docs class, Facebook 102, and a telescope class, which was faciltated by students. Some of the future classes are as follows: How to use your Smartphone, What is Digital Citizenship?, Twitter 101, Enhance Your Power Point Presentations, Understanding Movie Maker, iPad 101, and Understanding Prezi.

Each class is facilitated by a GLHS staff member who volunteers their time to connect with and engage our community. I encourage you to offer technology classes for your community as well. We see it as an opportunity to increase parents’ and community members’ confidence in using the technological tools that are increasingly becoming a part of our world.

Be Great,

Dwight

This is cross-posted on Connected Principals.com

 

Reflections from a GLHS Senior-Guest Blogger Jonathan Harrison

Students in our Space Technology class just completed a space simulation in which they were asked to design a rover that would complete specific tasks. In years past, they would do a space shuttle simulation. But this year, science teacher, Fred Donelson (@mrdglhs) changed things up a bit to simulate the landing on and mining of materials from an asteroid.  According to Mr. Donelson, “students will be simulating a landing by using bounce technology to drop a robot down the stairway.  They are also building a rover, remotely controlled via the internet, to remove a debris field from a mine and then collect/mine some minerals.  And a PR team will communicate all of this to visitors.”

Each year, I am simply amazed by what the students do! I wanted a student to share his experience of participating in the simulation so I invited Gahanna Lincoln High School senior, Jonathan Harrison to be a guest blogger. I’ve had the pleasure of being Jonathan’s principal since he was in the sixth grade and I couldn’t be more proud of him!

Project Vesta Reflection

               There is too much to be said for a project my group and I spent over a month on completing. One of the reasons I took Space Technology was because of the teacher, Mr. Donelson. He is one of the most interactive teachers I have ever had and I feel like he really wants his kids to succeed. Yes, I do understand that every teacher, for the most part, wants their kids to succeed in their class, but Mr. D does so much more. He uses inventive ways to teach such as social networks: always posting on Facebook and Twitter to keep his students updated on certain things going on in the class. It really helps not having to jump through hoops to find out what is due the next day. He also makes sure all of his students understand the material he is presenting, which is the most important. Students who needed the extra help could always find it, no matter if it was during the school week, on the weekends or even over holiday breaks. We had put in many hours to our project, but it was nothing compared to the hours Mr. D put in.

               With that being said, my group wanted to put in just as much work towards our project as Mr. D had put into us. We wanted to go above and beyond our expectations and really knock the socks off not only our competition, but our whole community. Personally I feel like we exceeded our goals and really showed people what teenagers are capable of producing. It also showed people how social networking can really effect a student’s education. We were able to contact teachers, administrators and other educators not only from all over the country, but across the globe. It was really eye-opening to see something we use for leisure everyday open up a lot of opportunities to further your education. That was really cool and something I enjoyed doing.

               The objective was to land your egg rover on the asteroid Vesta. Once there you had to clear debris and mine minerals that would act as important substances we need here on Earth. Each 6 person team was split up in 3 teams of two. The three teams were the Rover team, Lander team and the Public Relations team.

               Personally, I was on the Public Relations team. We had a lot of things to complete while this project went on. We had to develop a teaching video on space colonization, which will be a factor in our lives. The catch was that it had to be suitable for middle school students, who cannot read nearly as fast as high school seniors. We had to edit multiple times, which was extremely frustrating. But we finished it and it turned out very nicely. Next we had to make a documentary video. This basically outlined everything we did throughout the whole project. We had to keep record of everything that happened with videos and photos. We also had to “get our name out there.” I thought that what we were doing was very cool and interesting and I wanted other people to know also. I made a website, Facebook group and a Twitter account for everyone to communicate back and forth. In a few days we had educators from all over the world commenting on our progress and they were really interested in what Team Chronos, (our team name, @TeamChronos), was doing that day. They would ask for information on everything we had knowledge on, which was pretty cool. It’s not every day that an adult comes to a teenager and asks them for information so that they can teach their kids what we found out. Lastly we had to make a team brochure, which had to include each team’s mission, a small bio on each Team Chronos member and the whole team’s objective. We had a lot of fun with this, because we had made two different brochures. One was funny and the other was professional. It was awesome coming up with fake bio’s that made someone laugh.

               As a group, I could not have asked for a better group of guys to work with. We all had the same mindset and goals to accomplish during this project. Dedication, hard work and good work ethic benefitted our group unlike it did for others. We split up the work equally, and the only arguments we had was who was going to finish the projects at their homes. Eagerness to get your work done is a quick way to ensure it actually does get completed. Our group’s outlook and attitude was really positive too. When we had an idea we would share it with one another, get their opinions and find a way to improve it. We were not settled with being “good enough,” we wanted to simply be the best space tech team to ever pass through Gahanna. With that attitude, our best work came as the result.

               If I were a teacher I would definitely do a project similar to this. It brings out the best in every single student, regardless of GPA, clique or grade. This project would not work if you did not teach like Mr. Donelson however. You have to be interactive and really show the kids that you believe they can achieve great things. If you struggle with showed your students your dedication, you would still have the same kids not caring about their grades and turning in mediocre work at best. That is not helping anybody. What we’re doing here is something BIG. Rovers, space stations, alternative energy and time travel are all going to be something our generation deals with, so why not learn about them now? It is helping out our future and possibly getting kids interested in robotics and space which can open up to more career opportunities. I would definitely recommend this project to any teacher willing to dedicate time to a child’s learning. They have to want a better future for us and for their grandchildren.

               Overall I am very grateful for the opportunity to take this class. It teaches you a lot about your surroundings as well as a little bit about yourself. Also the information we learn today will benefit us tomorrow. These kinds of jobs will be the positions that pay the most and are the most available, especially to Americans. America is slowly declining in the science race and a large part of the blame goes to not educating our children at a young age. It spikes their interest and gives them options for a wide range of careers. This is what the world’s leading competitors do, such as China, Japan and many more. They teach their kids engineering and robotics at a very young age, which is benefitting them now. This project helps us with future projects that can really impact our lives. This information we gain is irreplaceable and I can never thank Mr. Donelson and Gahanna Lincoln High School enough for allowing me to take such a wonderful class.