Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shelley Wright at the IT Summit, Saskatoon

I had the great pleasure of attending the IT Summit and hearing speakers like Mike Wesch, Shelley Wright and Dean Shareski. Shelley asks the question, "What if school became real life?". She teaches grade 10-12 and describes her class as a mess. I admire her courage to change her classroom as I have been trying to change mine for the past 4 years.

She started with asking her students how they would change their learning experience. She talked about meaning and doing something that matters, with an emphasis on global citizenship.
She talked about the need to do this from Cornerstone Christian School, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

The class decided to join Schools for Schools. They set a goal of $10 000, quickly raising it to $20 000. They came up with an idea called change for change and swarmed the city with the jars. They spoke to media, had dinners and silent auctions. Stalled at $15 000, a local radio station got on board and canvassed the community. Schools for Schools had a wrap up party with a facebook feed and in the end they raised over $22 000 U.S.

They learned that they were an integral part of the global community and that they made a difference. They acted on their social conscience and their empathy for others shone through. (Mike Wesch had pointed out in a previous session how the internet may have reduced young people's empathy)

They began a campaign against Hershey for their use of child labour and slavery. I dream of my own students taking such ownership for social action.

She also had her kids make a holocaust museum. You can see the great work her kids did on this project and can imagine how engaged they are. They are now studying the genocide in Rwanda as a "modern day" example of genocide.

I had a chance to talk to Shelly at a break and we shared stories about how important it is to change the structure of the classroom to achieve real engagement, creativity and collaboration. We also took some solace in how hard it is to change because of the inertia of our classrooms. She realizes that we are all in a real struggle to change our schools and that she is not there yet.

She has just embarked on a project using "project global inform". I will look into this and add it to my list of sites like "takingitglobal" and "kiva."

I think she has come close to what a class could be with or without technology. I found her compelling and inspirational. I will continue to follow her blog and she will help me to continue to set goals for change in my classroom.

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