Flat Classroom® Certified Teacher Personal Journal
Name: Claudia Felske
Current School/Institution: East Troy Community Schools
Country: United States
Teaching / Administration responsibility: High School English Teacher & Technology Integration Specialist
Flat Classrooms NingID: Claudia Felske
Twitter: @Claudia_Felske
Brief Bio:

My Background & Bio Page


Over the length of this course you are asked to complete Fifteen Flat Classroom Challenges. These are based on the Flat Classroom 15 Challenges found in 'Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds'
Use the table here to share your completed challenges. Each Challenge gains 5 points. Bonus challenges are also available! Don't forget to BLOG on the Flat Classrooms Ning after each challenge and share your work using the correct TAGS! All tags found on Flat Classroom Challenges wiki.





FC15 #1: Set up your RSS Reader
Here's a link to my Google Reader RSS Feed.
I "bundled" it - just learned how! : ) #fcc1_pln
http://goo.gl/CMEXD #fcc1_pln
FC15 #2: Set up your Blog
Here's my personal blog (education/tech related)
I'm happy with it with the exceptions of wanting: 1. to blog more often 2. expand my readership #fcc2_blog
FC15 #3: Connect and Reflect
1. Skype in the Classroom is now more prominent on my radar - LOTS of possibilities that I need to use with my students and share with my colleagues 2. Digiteen is a FC project that I plan on partaking in. This has been a year of rude awakening for me re: how much we have to learn about digital citizenship: perhaps the most important new life-skill literacy our students need. #fcc3_join
I signed up for my first Skype in the Classroom Session!I joined Digiteen! (so excited!)
FC15 #4: Communicate with new tools
Google has emerged as an especially useful tool for both synchronous and asynchronous communication tools, particularly with so many schools adopting Google Apps for Education - many students have accounts automatically. This year, I've used Google Docs for a 9th grade - 5th grade "Writing Buddies" connection (synchronous and asynchronous), my students also use Blogger as an asynchronous connection - they comment and receive comments from me, each other, and a global audience. #fcc4_tool
Shared "Writing Buddy" Doc: Synchronous and Asynchronous - Practice punctuating dialogue #fcc4_tool
BONUS! #4: Set up a Collaborative Calendar
I have a collaborative calendar on several levels. My Google Calendar houses the following: my family calendar, my son's activity calendar (both shared/edited with my husband) my work calendar (viewed by my husband), my school district calendar (viewed by district), my "Geek Squad" calendar (shared with my "Geeks"- student tech help) and Timebridge puts in our FC dates as well. I use PlanbookEdu for a calendar syllabus tool, shared with my and embedded on my website. #fcc4b_cal
(My Google Calendar is shared with groups, but not public)
My Syllabus Calendar #fcc4b_cal
FC15 #5: Go Mobile!
Using my iPhone, I've investigated two great classroom tools:1) Socrative: a polling web 2.0 tool / mobile app: fabulous applications for formative assessment (see blopost) 2) Remind 101: a communication web 2.0 / mobile app: allows instant texts to students/parents en masse (see blogpost). #fcc5_mobile
Remind 101
BONUS! #5: Student PLN Construction

FC15 #6: Create a Classroom Monitoring Portal
I made a PLN for a professional organization upstart: Wisconsin Teachers of the Year Advisory Council. I made a website, a Twitter account, a Facebook Account for us. To streamline our communications and effectiveness, a PLN seemed to be a good idea (and if I made one for my high school classes at this point in the semester, it wouldn't be used). I want our PLN to be private, so I'm not linking it (would require login and an account to see). Here is a screenshot of it (below). I found netvibes to be a difficult tool - the PLN was difficult to create - stiff learning curve - and little things like poor color scheme on some themes kept me from seeing the edit buttons. Looks like it might help us, though, streamline our activities. Glad I learned about it. #fcc6_cmp
Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 6.45.27 PM.jpg
See Screenshopt to left an explanation.
FC15 #7: Empower Digital Citizenship Action
As a part of the Library media committee in my district, one of the charges we assumed was to create a Digital Literacy Scope and Sequence to ensure that all students receive training and experience in an even and effective manner instead of slip shod, here and there. We continue to develop our plan in monthly LMC meetings. To that end, we are using the "Digital Literacy and Citizenship Classroom Curriculum" from Common Sense Media to guide the development of our Scope and Sequence.

Additionally, I have gathered resources on the (Tech Integration site I made and maintain) to help students and teachers in this journey toward Digital Citizenship.

Digital Citizenship District Resource Page
FC15 #8: Collaborate and Communicate
I've completed one collaborative wiki project in class (Quadblogging about Cultural Awareness) and am coming to a close on a second: collaborative wiki and outsourced videos on Wearable Technology. Quadblogging was an interesting experience. I can see both the positives and negatives of it. Positives are: an authentic opportunity to collaborate and learn about digital citizenship by experiencing it, multiple voices and perspectives teaching each other, a more rich and diverse product. Negatives are: logistics: difficult to meet (though easier than synchronous, and allowing for asynchronous and synchronous both), more time required than if doing solo, unequal contributions from members, ultimately a point where someone has to step up and do final decisions and editing (can't agree on everything while hoping to achieve closure at some point). I see this as a rich opportunity for student growth, and one that would definitely benefit from debriefing afterwards (what worked, what didn't, why? and then apply lessons learned to another collaborative blogging opportunity).
1) Quadblogging about Cultural Awarenes 2) Collaborative wiki and outsourced videos on Wearable Technology
BONUS! #8: Edit Wikipedia

FC15 #9: Assess
I found the assessment rubric to be very helpful in reflecting on the videos made for FC project. It reinforced for me the reason I distribute rubrics to students when I introduce a project - setting the groundwork (and providing anchor examples if possible) really clarifies the task as well as providing motivation and an expectation of quality for the project. Had I watched and analyzed these prior to my own, I believe my video would have been stronger, incorporating a greater variety of media and using the humor card, for example.
I was impressed by the work of my FC classmates - reinforcing for me the notion that these are all very dedicated educators and capable techies, a fabulous combination, a group with which I'm fortunate to be rubbing shoulders : )

(See rubric files to the left)
BONUS! #9: Join as a Peer Review Classroom

BONUS! #9: Join as an Expert Adviser or Judge

FC15 #10: Give Students a Choice
I designed a "choice project" for my Accelerated Freshman English class. I wanted them to have a meaningful summative project for their independent reading novel for the quarter while having choice and ensuring rigor in their analysis of the novel they read. I used an initial analysis chart for each student (regardless of their choice): Dystopian "Big Warning" Sheet to make sure they all knew what a dystopia was, could identify the dystopian elements of their novel, and did some "pre-wriitng"/"pre-thinking" to focus their project work. Then, they had a choice as descirbed here: Dystopian Project, They were pleased (as was I) in the variety of options: creative writing, creating a gloster or poster, and doing a traditional persuasive essay. Interestingly, the class was pretty split on its choices: about 90% split between the creative writing (prequel or sequel of their novel) and gloster poster options while about 10% chose a persuasive/research essay. The variety was interesting to the class (as studets presented) and interesting to me. It allowed students to demonstrate their analytical skills in a way that showcased their strengths while giving them more ownership and pride in their product. (and it was much more fun to grade!)
Dystopian Project
Dystopian "Big Warning" Sheet
FC15 #11: Align your Project to Standards
I reflected on the results of the Dystopian Project and aligned it to ISTE Standards in the following document: Reflection/Alignment of Dystopian Project. * Be sure to click "comment" rectangle in the upper right corner to view the reflective comments I made.
Reflection/Alignment of Dystopian Projec
FC15 #12: Celebration and Summation
The schedule for learning summits that's supposed to be at www.flatclassroombook.com/ch9 does not exist. I'm a bit confused about this one. We did have a "Celebration" class which I attended: and we will be having a session at the close of this class where we present, showing and pitching our Global Project idea: I'm assuming both of these experiences fit the description and purpose of this "Celebration and Summation" Challenge. #fcc12_summit
Here are the notes (blackboard nearby) of our Celebration class. #fcc12_summit
FC15 #13: Global Project Design
After hearing Holly's interest in incorporating issues of diversity and tolerance into the Global Design Project, I contacted her and hopped on board. Our mutual interest in this topic should make this collaboration an interesting and successful experience. Bonus: being on separate continents will give me an authentic FC experience. Thanks, Holly, for taking me on board.
BONUS! #13: Engage with Social Media

FC15 #14: Pitching your Global Project Design
Attached (to the right) is the powerpoint presentation for our "Dare to be Yourself" global project. The pitch went fine and we received positive feedback. It was a great experience working with Holly both because of her vision for Stargirl and this larger project, and the challenges (learning experiences) of coordinating meetings with our 13 hour time difference. I feel it primed me in many ways for future FC projects.

FC15 #15: Flat Classroom Project Re-design
I will be on the lookout for opportunities for FC participation as a judge, participant, audience member, etc. I have much to learn and partaking in other projects will help flatten my learning curve and increase my expertise in this worthwhile area.

Total Points:( /105)

Part 1: Getting Started with Flat Classroom Pedagogy

Module 1: Connection


  • My "What" is pretty vast (and I predict it will continue to be throughout the course - hurray for learning!) beginning with the chapter's opening quote "...Adaptation to new realities requires change, but not all change will get you there. What to change, how to change it, when to change it, and at what cost are all critically important considerations." My "marginalia" was "WOW, but who KNOWS these what's, how's, when's and at what cost's?" This is a critical and exciting time, but also one of great uncertainty: no one KNOWS the best way to move ahead, all we can do is speculate in an edcuated way, move ahead, learn, and adjust.
  • The challenges are vast and the urgency to connect our students in an authentic way to their world is great. Certainly, this requires "teacherpreneurs," (I'm a teacherpreneur-wanna-be). How sad (and true) is the line "teacherpreneur in a way that won't frighten your administrators or colleagues" - I am currently "frightening" one of my colleagues (a superior) who fears "what this world is coming to" re: technology."
  • I love "teachers as "co-travelers and coaches on the learning journey" - #poetry #truth #flatclass.
  • "Glocalize" is a liberating concept: "start here..." as in your own classroom. Makes the concept of reaching the goal of flat classroomdom seem incremental and manageable.
  • I'm good at "push" but need to expand my "pull"
  • Re: my learning with this chapter, I was aware of these concepts in general, but this is helping give me the vocabulary to speak about it: push/pulll, teacherpreneur, etc. I use RSS and I Blog as do my students, so these aren't new to me, but I'm looking forward to seeing how to leverage all of these tools for global learning.

So What?

I hate to sound cliche or sychophantic here, but "I believe!" Whenever I read things like this book, or ISTE standards, I'm reminded how critical it is to have engaged, connected, global learners, and how out-of-date our educational system is. I'm ready for this. #bringit!

Now What?

I'm here, taking this class, anxious to collaborate, to undergo this process (clearly mirroring what we need to do to enable global learning). The Now What? is to glean as much knowledge as possible from this FCC and its members as possible, to becone a part of this community of "doers," as my friend Deb calls it "The Society of Yes!"

What you had to say about no one knowing how to move forward is so powerful and gets at the heart of the overwhelmed feeling we get as educators when we think about integrating technology and digital literacies. I enjoyed your bullet list of What's and your enthusiasm for learning...You are a teacherpreneur!!! -Yvonne

Module 2: Communication


  • Communication is such a complex art/science that I don't think we fully understand the levels of complexity involved, and we don't understand how to "teach" it, particularly as it is changing so quickly. Another challenge is HOW to teach it. We're using old models: speech classes and "mass communication" classes that don't even take into account how this generation and this world currently communicate. This is a collosal problem in education: "who says what to whom in what channel with what effect?" (pile that on top of the growing modes of communication).
  • Something I wasn't sufficiently aware of before taking this class is captured on p. 67: "Communication literacies include habits." I, for example, need to establish regular and reliable online habits - this course has made that clear to me. I'm very organized in a traditional classroom, and I wouldn't allow time to pass before completing necessary preparation or feedback. HOWEVER, I find myself getting behind and not being "on top of things" in this class. This is a wake up call to me about the importance of establishing regular times to read FC posts, Group email, etc. If this is difficult for me, it will be VERY difficult (at least initially) for some students. Genius - this course methodology as I'm experiencing the challenges and frustrations inherent in FC work NOW - before I blow it with my students : )
  • All teachers should "own" all students - interesting and effective (I'd presume) to have a cadre of teachers with students understanding "they are all your teachers" increasing accountability, clarifying expectations, possibly preventing misbehavior with the student knowledge that many teachers are in this, and all expect a,b&c from you.
  • "If you don't tag it, I don't grade it." 78: brilliant, I'm stealing that line!
  • The notion of student leaders is brilliant, allowing for differentiation, growth of the individual, and leadership building.

So What?

It is CRITICAL that we do this - Digital Citizenship and Communication are without doubt of great importance - we need to increase our effective practices to ensure students are building these skills.

Now What?

I'm motivated by reality to dive into the FC concept and increase my skill set to enable my students to benefit from these higher order communications nd collaboration skills. It seems counter to our natures as educators to do anything different.

Your point about communication is brilliant...
"who says what to whom in what channel with what effect?" (pile that on top of the growing modes of communication).
I've become a huge fan of your blog, Fel 2.0. You are an incredible communicator of feelings, ideas, frustrations, and inspirations as they pertain to the educational landscape. Most recently, absolutely loved the post, "When my husband makes me uncomfortable," From the title that lures you in, to the very touching personal story about learning to ski to the strong metaphor of change as applied to education...the richness of it all...what can I say, it left me in awe...you have a lot to teach about communicating well!!! Thanks for your beautifully crafted blog posts, excitement for this process, and your willingness to stick to it! -Yvonne
Yvonne: your comment made my week! While I do get a lot out of writing my blogposts, I often wonder if anyone reads them - glad you did and even more glad you got something out of it. Makes me think...maybe others do to : )

Module 3: Citizenship


Salient points from Chapter 3:
  • "Every digital citizen must have access to technology before he/she can become a digital citizen" AMEN! I see this as a central problem/challenge in my district. I firmly believe we need technology in the hands of students. Having a few checkout labs will never allow them to leverage technology in ways they need to fully engage, to maximize their learning AND to become responsible and productive digital citizens. That first step is an ENORMOUS one, but a prerequisite to everything else. The question is: how (aside from advocating for 1:1) do teachers move ahead (across the digital divide) without their students having the prerequisite access?
  • The Pg 100 chart is incredibly valuable and a helpful way to make Digital Citizenship a manageable journey. Think globally, act locally (to begin with). I feel a bit of weight lifted from my shoulders. It's manageable, progressive, and it makes sense.
  • Students as "uneducated clickers"- so true and emphasizes our critical role in educating the clickers, we ourselves (or at least myself) being a quasi-uneducated (but well-meaning and learning) clicker myself : ) "Digital citizenship is not about creating a list of things to do or a stagnant curriculum that you can use for the next ten years. It's about TRANSFORMING YOURSELF INTO A PROFESSIONAL WHO CAN EFFECTIVELY EMPOWER STUDENT-CENTERED LEARNING TO CREATE VIBRANT, EXCITING LEARNING PROJECTS." Let the transformation begin (step 1: FCC class: glad to be here : )
  • As discussed in our Citizenship blackboard session, I had an issue in class that made me realize the importance of having a procedure for students to report activities. the 1. Stop 2. Screenshot 3. Block 4. Tell 5. Share was powerful for me. I now know that this needs to be a procedure taught to all students (more on this below).
  • Cultural differences are something students know about in the abstract, but it seems to me that until they are collaborating with other cultures, encountering authentic uncomfortableness with differences, being forced to make decisions, create understandings, and react to these head-on, it remains an abstraction, lacking authenticity. This is one of the essential purposes of these collaborations - out-of-book real experiences capable of exposing biases, discomforts, stereotypes, and then dispelling them. A tricky, but worthwhile business.

So What?

So "access" is critical (this is affirming to me - I've been preaching this for two years now and feel more than ever the need to keep pressin the issue to a larger audience). In addition, I realize that I need to keep moving ahead. Being pretty much alone on this in my district, I can feel isolated and inept, to be truthful. The importance of this affirms for me the need to persevere.

Now What?
I shall "persevere." The Areas of Awareness chart can be a good starting space for me. I'll do my best re: access (keep advocating) while acknoledging that I'm helping students with the technical, individual levels, but can use that as a bridge to move toward "enlightened digital citizenship." The Rays of understanding clearly tie into common core and ISTE standards - this is doable and justifyable (to others, always was to me).

Great takeaways from the chapter! We struggled a lot with access in my school and have a checkout program for students to be able to check out laptops for an entire semester for those needed and allowing others to bring their own devices, but still many issues with access and totally understand your emphasis on it...because nothing can be implemented in a consistent manner without the access first...it's unfortunate you don't have more support! -Yvonne

Module 4: Contribution and Collaboration


Salient Points from Chapter 6: Contribution and Collaboration:
  • The 90-9-1 principal is disturbingly accurate for online social networking. 90 percent watches; 9 contributes somewhat; 1% creates and contributes content. This is disturbing and also reflects the challenges inherent in global projects. (while I must admit it's also motivating to be in the top !%!)
  • If one doesn't respond online it's viewed as not existing at all - this is such an important point - I'm going to use this REPEATEDLY with students.
  • The concept of Reading electronic correspondences DAILY, the need to develop it as a HABIT! I'm feeling that pressure and I understand its importance. People are by nature busy; teachers, busier. It's VERY challenging but important to make this happen.
  • Expect challenges to collaborative learning: technical know how, finding class time, finding support, being flexible and patient (but these are always realities, and always valuable challenges to conquer - as life skills)
  • "REQUIRE contribution in your assessment methods and accept NO excuses" - Gospel!
  • "Recess for conversation" - good method to make sure serious work is done, but also allow for the needed "chat time"; define spaces
  • CHECK for large edits: pasting from other wikis, etc. : (
  • TIME Zone issues: 24 hours is ideal; 48 is realistic
  • TRUTH! "In a traditional classroom, the less collaborative students are often the mroe academically able and have what could be called "defense mechanisms" for preserving their good standing" - don't want to work in groups, threatens their grades. (me: this is PROOF that they, more than the others, NEED collaborative opportunities)

So What?

I found much wisdom in this chapter. I also painfully experienced much of the need for this first hand (while reading this chapter ironically). I had a collaborative project between 9th and 5th graders wherein 2 9th grade partners communicated inappropriately with the 5th graders. This was very unsettling, but highlighted the need for tight protocol and policies regarding contribution and collaboration as well as oversight. This process (FC) is so complex, it's somewhat headspinning; and along with that, it's so dynamic---so many opportunities for real-world learning, but also so many opportunities for miscommunication or worse, among students. I am learning how critical all of the backwork is.

Now What?

Forge onward!

Thanks for sharing your painful experience. Unfortunately, that is part of the process and definitely one of the challenges, but I appreciate your commitment to forging onward and most of the times painful experiences do indeed help us to learn as is clearly the case in this instance for you. -Yvonne

Module 5: Choices and Creation


Salient points from Chapters 7&8 Choices and Creation:
  • PBL, UDL, learning styles, inquiry, differentiation = choice in the classroom
  • "Choice is important because it is part of what human beings want to do" - (me: so it connects with what's essentially human)
  • "Passion-Driven" classroom: asks whether students ahve an "achievement gap or passion gap" and challenge teachers to "transform a learner's neergy and passion into scholarly engagement. (cool formula pg 162)
  • Teacherpreneur: FABULOUS TERM!
  • Technology enables, not replaces
  • All public spaces wehre students are producing should be monitored with RSS (me: I need to learn how to do this: is this something we could learn in htis class? I know about a traditional RSS, but how do you make it so all student work shows up there?)
  • "Tag Clouds" sound very coolo (pg. 177) - I need to wrap my brain around that: what it entails and how to do it.
  • "crossing the midline" happens when a person moves an object across their field of vision and body from one side of the body to the other (new to me)
  • Einstein: "I never teach my pupils, I only provide the conditions in which they can learn"
  • It makes sense in today's climate that students need to create and co-create as they will need, in many cases, to create their own job in a newly emerging economy with "jobs" that we can't yet envision.
  • Interesting concept of teachers "branding" themselves: I see it as a good example to students, but also a reflection of the convergence of business and education (not a trouble-free concept)
  • *Where is this "Flat Classroom Project Help wiki" refered to on pg 207? (I fear I've been missing out on a resource that could really be helping me now, and in the future)

Here is the link for the help wiki: http://projecthelp.wikispaces.com/
You may need to request permission to access it.
So What?

I've always been a believer of "choice" in all aspects of life, and of course, also in my classroom. Some classes/units/concepts lend themselves naturally to choice; others are more challenging. This chapter reiterates for me the importance of giving choice and allowing students multiple ways to demonstrate their learning and to stretch themselves. I think what's key is to try to figure out how to allow choice within a framework which also ensures students are chosing different options, expanding their expertise, struggling in order to learn new skills and ideas.

Now What?

I've "assigned" myself several "to do's" above:**
  • learn what Tag Clouds are and how to make them
  • learn how to get all student work from public spaces to show up on an RSS feed in order to monitor it easily. This is a must and will make me feel more secure an capable regarding monitoring student work and behavior.
I totally agree about the value of choice and the importance of figuring out how to allow choice within a framework. It is challenging! -Yvonne

Module 6: Celebration


Salient Points from chapter 9: Celebration:
  • LOVE the word "Kaizen": the Japanese appropach for ongoing improvement: in my view, the whole shebang, the reason we're here (not just in the classroom but in this world, this life). Related great quote: "The highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others" - Socrates
  • Interesting to make "Celebration" an actual, tangible, mandatory step. This prevents it from being lost in the mix, lost in the "get it done-ness" of modern scope and sequences.
  • We NEED "the loop": culminating events, archives, reflection, closure; we need to close the loop. (another life truth, not just a class project)
  • "Every project should conclude with best-practice examples (again, just good pedagogy)
  • "It would be sad to retire and have it said "she didn't teach 30 years, she taught 1 year 30 times"
  • When reflecting on problems, ask Why, not Who!
  • Great Idea: 3 tokens for participation: each student takes 3 upon entering. spends 3: equalizes participation.
  • Great idea: Popcorn or coffee shop Class Chats: "Popcorn Conversation" (p 225) where students pop popcorn and discuss their learning.

So What?

I'm 80% on board of this concept of Celebration. I agree that it's critical to reflect (both students and teachers) on one's learning - that's the bridge, the dendrite that connects everything together and makes for long-term learning and changed/improved behavior/application. To that extent, celebration is critical and should get it's own "step" in the learning process. My 20% (really more like 10% of doubt) springs from my belief that tolkens/awards/certificates are problematic, emphacizing extrinsic rewards and devaluing learning for its own sake, the intrinsic value of growing. It's a problem that starts VERY early in our students' lives: in the home and in the classroom. For this reason, I agree with celebration and reflection, but not with gifts/rewards unless the reward is learning itself and having one's work displayed and archived as exemplary for the good of others.

Now What?

A few concepts will need further study and integration into my practice. I'm in love with the concept of Kaizen and will be studying up on it. I think students would respond to it as well. Two practical ideas I'm going to apply are the 3 tokens to promote a more balanced discussion, equal contributions AND popcorn chats as a fun, engaging reflective method.
I appreciate your doubt with the concept of celebration. I think the most important thing is for students to celebrate what they have learned and share that with others...I think that is the idea behind the Student Summits..not a reward/gift system. -Yvonne

Part 2: ‘Rock the World’ Global Project Design and Management

Module 7: Global Project Design Essentials


Obviously, this course in its entirety has been leading up to this Global Project Design. I must admit that this course has been far more demanding and at times bewildering than I had imagined. The layers required for designing and maintaining a project is truly complex and very time consuming. Communications alone can be overwhelming: we have many places that communication is occuring: the wiki, the Ning, email, blackboard, Google+ and I always feel like I'm getting bits and pieces, but not the gestalt. In addition to that, we (those taking the class) are dwindling in number, and if we are to be the leaders and we are inconsistent and not clear on how to do this, it worries me about the likelihood of students (generally much less focussed and organized than we are) in different locations and timezones stand a chance. Nonetheless, here I am, I took the class, I'm still open to being convinced an learning the "how to's" and I'm hoping that happens in these last several modules/class periods. The steps in the book and the steps described in class make sense, but they remain in "abstract land" until put into practice, so perhaps the only way is to "jump in," learn, fail, revise, repeat.

So What?

I'm not 100% clear on the task at hand here. Are we to just design and pitch a project, or are we expected to recruit and begin a project? The former I see as manageable, the latter would concern me a great deal. I'm still waiting for my outsourced video clip request to be filled (a minor task). If I have to create, populate, and complete a global project for this class, esp. at this point in the semester when the year is coming to a close, I'd be concerned that the likelihood is small that this could happen.

Now What?

I'm hoping that we receive more clarification on the expectations for this project. Meanwhile, I have several "pieces" of this course that are lingering and cannot be completed right now: 1) outsourced video: I made my request (and filled someone else's) but have not had any takers 2) FC challenge 9: assessment: since only 2 videos are done (and not from the same group) I can't do the assessment piece on "3 videos from one group" as requested...waiting 3) The handshake assignment: a google doc is started with our ideas listed (2 of us; the other 2 haven't responded). While I'm not comfortable with this lack of closure - 3 pieces lingering - one big one upcoming - I'm realizing perhaps this is all part of global collaboration: it's so dependent on follow-through by others (I have not been stellar in this department either) that frustration and lack of closure are ever-present factors. I'm wondering if one must learn to be comfortable with frustration and lack of closure in order to have the fortitude necessary to pursue and be successful with Flat Classroom projects.

Thank you so much for this reflection. You articulate the challenges and frustrations of global collaboration so precisely. Yes, I do think you have to accept the frustration and lack of closure at some level. We are all new to this global collaboration thing and it will take time for it to really reach it's full potential, but in my opinion it's too important to write off, and you have to find comfort in the fact that as time passes and educators stay committed to the process, it does get better...and there is much to be learned from the frustrations and challenges.

You are not expected to implement your global project at this stage. If you can implement it, that is great, but you don't have to. I know when I took the course I was not in a position to implement it, so I just created it. Let me know if you need further clarification. -Yvonne

Module 8: Advanced Global Project Design and Management Essentials Part 1

These journals no longer seem directly related to a certain chapter, so I guess I'll reflect on some of Chapter 10 (Chapter 10 seems to pertain to all remaining Modules), class, and where I stand with the final Global Project Design activity.
Salient Points from first half of Chapter 10:
  • "Designing a meaningful collaborative experience takes skill and knowledge of learning styles, team dynamics and building symbiotic relationships. One must transcend the time differences, foster higher-order thinking, provide opportunities fo cultural understanding AND make a product that impacts others in a positive way." Me: yes, but wow! This quote (p. 236) really underscores the enormity of designing a FC project. I'm glad I get to try this in the context of a class and a cohort of e-colleagues. This is an enormous task.
  • Project name: interesting and true - a name can make or break a project, engender excitement or neglect. Make it "memorable, interesting, descriptive."
  • Tip: buying a domain name for your FC project is beneficial = less chance it will be blocked by a school domain.
  • Tip: Keep a massive to-do list, involve students
  • "Learning Legacy" is a great term. Key question:"How will students leave a learning legacy from what they have done?" Great to keep at the forefront (backwards design)
  • "Wiki Wars" - nice term to use and forewarn students about.
  • Assessment is difficult for global collaboration, but also key: common rubrics, common assessments (I can imagine this as potentially a huge challenge. Creating and interpreting common assessments is challenging even within the same department in the same building. Now, add a different building, different country, different educational systems, different grading standards and practices to the mix. I can appreciate both the importance and the difficulty of this step. On a somewhat related note, I'm interested in how WE in this flatclassroom class will ultimately be assessed. I noticed the column by our Flatclassroom Fifteen Challenges where it appears that we simply award ourselves 5 points for completing the challenge. Is our grade ultimately determined by a rubric of criteria, or is it largely just a matter of completion (quality being on the honor system?). If so, I can understand the rationale for a teacher class, but I fear that the quality of the product made by a significant number of students in a regular class under such an assessment method would be poor at best.

So What?
The ultimate what here is the Global Project Design that I decide to create. I'm interested in Holly's ideas for a Global Project designed around the issue of bullying and this project allowing students to share their stories and reach common understandings, increasing their ability to empathize with others, think before acting, and become more sophisticated and effective digital citizens.

Now What?
I have an email out to Holly, inquiring whether or not she'd like a partner on this project. That's my first priority.
If that doesn't pan out, I'm toying with the idea of applying the "6 Degrees of Separation" notion to a Global Project. The concept (made famous by the "6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon) means that everything and everyone is 6 or fewer steps away. It began as a joke, but the concept, if actively applied, is incredibly empowering - that we are all truly connected, a notion certainly relevant to the whole purpose behind Flatclassroom endeavors. My project would be connecting students from around the world and having them engage in activities which would highlight their connections and then celebrate those connections in co-created products. I realize this is very vague. As I mentioned, my priority will be to work with Holly on the Bullying project. If that doesn't work out, I will use the PD Toolkit templates to fully think through the 6 Degrees Idea so it blossoms into a legitimate and feasible idea.

So glad you found Holly to work with...I think the two of you will make a wonderful team! -Yvonne

Module 9: Advanced Global Project Design and Management Essentials Part 2


Just adding a few notes onto this continuing Global Project segment of this course:
  • Follow through is critical to managing a global project: 2 managers and 2 lead teachers are key to the FC structure as well as a clear (yet flexible) timeline.
  • The human element (live meetings: voices, real connections) is key to making the project feel real and getting commitment and follow-through.
  • Social media and communication platforms: be sure you know which tools you want to use and WHY. Each tool needs a purpose.
  • Meetings have to be welcoming - everyone is unsure at first.
  • Check out Trello.com

So What?

I can understand from this class how complex managing a FC project can be. I honestly am hesitant due to the enormity of it and the time commitment (just being realistic about the life of a full-time teacher); that said, I think that a network of likemindeds, such as those found on the FC network is perhaps the only way to make this happen. I was a bit shocked but also reassured when Julie said that the FC program needs to improve its management style and tools to improve drop out rates. This was a bold admission: acknowledging how challenging the notion of FC projects are as reflected in this course. It was a teachable moment for me - Julie and Vicki, accomplished veterans, are still, like the rest of us, works in progress. That was appreciated and validating. Thank you, Julie.

Now What?

As a result of this last class, I am now collaborating with Holly on a Flat Classroom Project design based on social consciousness, individuality, and diversity. It's exciting to tap into Holly's experience and ideas, half way across the world. I hope to be a worthy American partner. I'm looking forward to getting into the meat of planning and designing our project. We hung out in a Google Hangout this weekend (my Sat. night, her Sun. morning) and have a plan.

Module 10: Putting it all Together


No new readings here, just some reflection as we near the end of the course. The final chapters on flattening PD and Rock the World are both inspiring and daunting. I completely see the relevance and need for flattened, just in time PD and for global collaboration, and I also completely understand (having had a taste of it in my own teaching and in this course) the complexity and challenges inherent in these initiatives.

So What?
"Think Globally, Act, Locally" right? I'll advocate this PD philosophy (I was just at another "unconference" yesterday - EdCamp Milwaukee where I facilitated a session and volunteered and gleaned MUCH inspiration and MANY ideas from dynamic educators around Wisconsin. It's exciting to think how much "change" will come out of that one day - the ripple effect of that unpaid, self-motivated, creative gathering of minds. This holds such great potential - schools need to take a lesson from such a day. I will continue to try to get my admins to attend EdCamp as I think seeing would be believing and could potentially result in change. This is just one example of Act Locally. Incorporating FC projects into my classes and letting my colleagues and community members know will also increase the likelihood of eventually growing a small but feisty community of teacherpreneurs, and then...anything's possible.

Now What?

I'll end with that fabulous quote that begins Chapter 12: Let it anchor our idealism, action, and perseverance...
"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." - Marie Robinson