The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Monday, April 23, 2007

It Still Exists

My job as Instructional Technology Coordinator affords me many opportunities to do a lot of different things-and one of them is to work with kids in classrooms from time to time. So today I had a chance to introduce a group of seniors to digital storytelling-they'll be producing a story that will contribute to our Digital Diplomacy Project.

We're asking our kids to produce a digital story that will address the following prompt: As an American, I believe....

We want kids to have their say, we want to teach them that they can contribute, and we want them to cut through all the political rhetoric to show anyone who will watch what Americans are really about. And we want other kids in other countries to respond, hopefully in their own videos.

The teacher, Matt Formato, captures it beautifully:
"Here is a challenge to the young people of our country and those on the other side of the world--to go through the wall that separates the ambassadors and heads of state--to reach into the hearts and minds of peers in foreign lands with the truth as we live it, as we can best convey it--partly in image, partly in sound, but always in our own voice."
I wish I could write like that.

We began by showing the clip from John Edwards YouTube site where he asks "What are you going to do?" He continues on by asking for people to have their say by posting a video to his YouTube site. It certainly provided a nice context for our discussion (full disclosure: I'm not a John Edwards supporter-at least not yet).

After showing example digital stories, we finished by showing the pictures of the Nigerian kids and their new laptops and their school-that woke the kids up (second semester seniors, 1st period). Now I don't know if these laptops will be able to handle video, but we asked the kids to imagine that the two little boys in the image were viewing their first video, and it was the one of the videos from our class. What would it be like to provide kids half-way around the world with their first perspective of what an American kid was like?

Despite NCLB and AYP and all the other obstacles, the art of teaching, and the power of being an educator, still exists.

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