The Supervisor of Technology from Montclair Public Schools contacted me earlier this week looking for ways to spark interest in collaborations with the students in Watchung Science and Technology Elementary School. The Principal of the schools, Peter Turnamian, had reached out to her regarding a project they were working on. (The school serves 460 students in grades K-5. Their primary language is English.)
The question the students are looking to discuss via Skype is “How are we all connected?” The primary objective for this project is to increase cultural awareness for students.
We know we have the following invaluable Skype resources:
Barbara De Santis from Sayerville Public Schools told me about the Mystery Class project. I hadn’t seen it before and the more I read about it, the more I was impressed at how well organized and sustainable it could be in the classroom. I have been recommending Jen Wagner’s collaborative projects for a couple of years and will continue to as the teachers and students that I work with LOVE them and I think they are fantastic, but this was one I had not yet seen.
“In this global game of hide-and-seek, students search to uncover the secret locations of ten “mystery” sites hiding around the Earth. To guide the investigation, they track changes in day length at the mystery sites and at their hometown, and use other “clues” along the way. As they take this inspiring journey, students unlock the essential questions behind the reasons for seasons and the dramatic changes in day length that result.”
Think about how many ways we can tie this into what we teach in our classrooms. I believe that I would be able to tie this into pretty much every content area. I know you probably have questions about how to participate and the calendar and schedule of events. You’ll be relieved to know that the website is very easy to navigate and I am confident that you’ll be able to find the answers to your questions. There’s even a Frequently Asked Questions section if you’re having trouble finding the right section to look in.
Please let us know if you’ve participated in Mystery Class in the past. Share your experience here as a comment to encourage others to give it a try with their students.
In late May, on the Official Google Blog, Google announced that Google Wave was available to developers to tinker with and that you could sign up for an e-mail alert for Wave’s public launch later this year. (According to TechCrunch, the first 100,000 invites go out on September 30th.)
So, let me explain, in simple terms a little bit about what Google Wave is. It’s about conversation.
There are three key technologies in Google Wave that will make this communication tool more collaborative and efficient than e-mail of the past:
Live collaborative editing means that you see the people in the conversation typing in real-time. (Think of Skype, SMS or other chat programs where you wait for the person to hit enter before you see what they have written.) By the way, this can be with more than one person at a time. So if there are six people in the Wave, you can see anyone who is typing in the conversation. They can also send you a private message.
Natural Language Tools enable you to focus on what you are typing and not worry about any mistakes you might type. Google’s philosophy behind this new technology is that you should be able to type about 5% faster. Google looks at millions of web pages to see statistically how people use language in practice. This works much different than the red and green squiggly lines in a word processing program. Since Wave is web hosted, it doesn’t matter whether you are on your Smart Phone, laptop or desktop, you will receive these recommendations for grammar and spelling. These language tools will continue improving as we all continue using the web.
Embedding means that you can get the code (html) for your Wave and put it on your website, wiki or blog. You can also add gadgets to your Wave as you would to your iGoogle page.
So, here’s the big question? What are the implications for educators and students?
Don’t let the technical stuff behind Google Wave get you. This is going to be cool. Though I don’t think that it is going to be added to Google Apps Education Edition anytime soon, I do think that Google Wave may just be the answer for those educators that get e-mail, but don’t quite get Google Docs yet.
This mashup of e-mail, IM, pictures, video, maps, maybe a little bit of a Twitter-like app will allow administrators, teachers, parents, even some students to be better communicate with each other. The conversation will be more collaborative when necessary. With Google Wave you can go back and play the Wave again (which many of us need). This may just be what we’ve all been looking for.
“New studies are reinforcing the simple wisdom that beyond a certain very basic level of material wealth, the only thing that increases individual happiness over time is helping other people.”
Project 10100 is a call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible. Google asks that if you have an idea that you believe would help somebody, to submit it to them. They are committing $10 million to fund up to five of the final ideas.
Ideas must be submitted by individuals, not organizations.
Submit your idea focused on one of the following 8 categories (Pay attention to #8):
1.Community: How can we help connect people, build communities and protect unique cultures?
2.Opportunity: How can we help people better provide for themselves and their families?
3.Energy: How can we help move the world toward safe, clean, inexpensive energy?
4.Environment: How can we help promote a cleaner and more sustainable global ecosystem?
5.Health: How can we help individuals lead longer, healthier lives?
6.Education: How can we help more people get more access to better education?
7.Shelter: How can we help ensure that everyone has a safe place to live?
8.Everything else: Sometimes the best ideas don’t fit into any category at all.
On January 27, 2009, the public (THAT’S YOU) will select twenty semi-finalists from 100 of the project submissions. An advisory board will then choose up to five final ideas for funding and implementation.
What will the Advisory Board look for in your idea?
Reach: How many people would this idea affect? Depth: How deeply are people impacted? How urgent is the need? Attainability: Can this idea be implemented within a year or two? Efficiency: How simple and cost-effective is your idea? Longevity: How long will the idea’s impact last?
What will your idea be? How can you use this with your students to make the connection between their lives and their community, their country, or even the planet?