Flat Classroom™ Certified Teacher Personal Journal


suzie_nestico.jpgSuzie N.
Mount Carmel Area High School, Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, USA
Social Studies: Grade 12 - Principles of Democracy, Classrooms for the Future Initiative

Who is Suzie N.?

Mother of one, teacher of many... Suzie teaches 12th Grade Social Studies at Mount Carmel Area High School in Northeast Pennsylvania in the USA and has been doing so for the past eight years. Named one of Pennsylvania's Keystone Technology Integrators in 2009, she thrives on bringing cutting-edge techniques and technologies to her students to open them up to the world. Outside of the classroom, she coaches Football cheerleading, serves as the school's Homebound Instruction Coordinator, acts as the school's PANA liaison/nrg Balance advisor and serves as advisor for the school’s Student Government, amongst other extracurriculars. Outside of school, Suzie is kept busy with her seven-year-old son's school, soccer, baseball, and basketball schedules.

Suzie holds a BA in Political Science and Pre-Law from Bloomsburg University and an MSEd. in 21st Century Teaching from Wilkes University. Teaching is Suzie's third career in this lifetime's journey. She originally began career #1 in Child Protective Services and the courtroom. Career #2 led her to Dallas, TX and Minneapolis, MN for several years, where she served as an IT consultant/recruiter (aka - headhunter for high-end software and internet developers). After the "dot.com" bubble burst and following 9-11-2001, her travels led her back to her hometown in northeast PA, at which time she completed Teacher Intern Certification coursework at Susquehanna University to embark upon career #3 as a high school Social Studies teacher. Her background in the technology field, combined with experience in working with troubled youth have lent themselves nicely to career #3 and 21st Century teaching and learning.

Suzie and her students thrive on global connection through technology use. Involvement in projects such as Flat Classroom and Digiteen recently afforded some of her students to travel to Mumbai, India for the 2010 Global Flat Classroom Conference. Suzie was also featured by Microsoft Online Safety under the Education Highlights section for her work thus far with these global projects.

Welcome to Room 202 - 21st Century Social Studies



Module 1: Connection

Pedagogy: Global Project Design

(cross-posted on coal cracker classroom)

By far and wide, the recurring, prevalent theme throughout this chapter/module is one of a teacher can not teach something until they are doing it themselves. Period. Throughout the connection chapter, there are several quotes that resonate deep with me:

  • "Before a classroom can be connected, educators must first connect themselves to online resources and knowledge."
  • “The real payoff comes in the giving of knowledge, not the keeping of it. If I'm going to make you greater, I have to give freely of not only my knowledge, but all my resources: my connections and network, my experience, my insights, my advice and counsel—even my time.” Steve Farber, Greater Than Yourself: The Ultimate of True Leadership.

There truly is no greater feeling than when a student who does not understand Twitter, asks, "What even is the point in it? I don't want to micro-blog about everything I do every minute of the day." I do not tell them the answer, I show them. When I open Tweetdeck on the whiteboard to demonstrate one of my most powerful PLN's, I watch eyes widen and jaws drop. Reading blogs has educated me and prodded me, albeit slowly, to becoming involved in the daily banter of the current state of education. On the other hand, Twitter has connected me, literally, to thousands of people, ideas, resources and tools for my classroom, real-time.

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Flat Classroom 15 Challenges


Challenge #1 - RSSPicture_6.png

For the past two years, I have used Google Reader. It works for me and so I have not ventured down another avenue. Don't get me wrong, I am far from an, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it," personality type as I constantly strive to find more efficient and engaging ways to accomplish what it is that needs to be accomplished. However, with the plethora of information and media available by the minute, Google Reader works for me.

There are many blogs that I try and keep up with and it seems an injustice to limit my choices to a top three, however, I will give it my best shot. Obviously, I follow Vicki Davis' CoolCat Teacher blog and since many of us here likely do, I am assuming it is a favorite to us all. Here are three additional blogs I find very useful:
  • Dean Sharesky's Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech is a no-nonsense, to the point array of valuable stances on serious issues in education. Although Dean writes from a Canadian perspective and I work in the United States public school system, the issues in improving both educational systems are often similar. Dean does well to highlight the problems facing administrators and curriculum teams in Curriculum Renewal: There Has to be a Better Way. He does well to acknowledge that attempts at inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and OBE (Outcomes-based education) are futile if the right parameters are not put in place. Change is difficult in a system as vast as education and administrators need to put the "how" behind the "what".
  • Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed is another blog serious about how to use technology in the classroom. Will reminds us, via other great bloggers, too, that technology is merely a tool in the educational process. A student sitting in front of a computer does not equate to technology-driven education. This blog is resourceful and Will's approach is both real and humorous at the same time. The same thoughts are echoed in 10 Questions for Arne Duncan. I also got a good laugh (surely because I feel the same way) when reading PD for Teachers (Like Students Do It) in which Will indirectly acknowledges (much like Vicki does in the Connection chapter) that the only way for teachers to ever learn the tools is quite simply to learn them and use them, themselves.

Challenge #2 - A Blog
Finally, I have begun a professional, reflective blog that hopefully puts forth a clear understanding of a small-town classroom vying to compete in the world of global education and connectedness.

This is perhaps the most daunting task for me and to be honest, it is based out of fear. Fear of criticism. Fear of scrutiny. Although, we have an exceptionally supportive administration in place, blogging and speaking out on a professional level are not necessarily encouraged or discouraged. As part of a grad class, I made a feeble attempt to set up a professional blog, but didn't get very far.

Recent controversy over my own struggles discussed in detail through others' blog posts such as Tears on the Keyboard and Leadership Means You Are Supposed to Lead have since prompted me to finally begin my own professional journey in blogging. I have written. I have created posts, but not published them. I am stuck. Why? I want/need the perfect name for this blog that I am determined to make great. I don't want it to be great so that I can have a lot of followers. No. It needs to serve as a testament & legacy to how much I care about my students and chronicle all of the things I try to teach my students in an effort to make the world a better place, one student at a time. It's all in a name, they say

Reflection - So Now What?

I've become fairly proficient over the past two years in developing my own PLN. It is time that I teach my students how to do the same. I was once criticized for "teaching technology" versus "teaching Social Studies." Well, friends, there simply can not be a better way to study socially and truly learn the value of cultural contexts and citizenship in an evermore globally connected world than to reach out and start connecting. It will take time and perseverance, however, it is imperative that my students start learning how to develop a PLN and how to Tweet. I've kept it all to myself for much too long.


Module 2: Communication

Pedagogy: Global Project Design



Flat Classroom 15 Challenges



Challenge #3: Connect and Reflect



Challenge #4: Communicate With New Tools


Challenge #5: Go mobile!



Reflection




Module 3: Citizenship

Pedagogy: Global Project Design



Flat Classroom 15 Challenges


Challenge #6: Create a Classroom Monitoring Portal



Challenge #7: Empower Digital Citizenship Action



Reflection


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Module 4: Contribution and Collaboration

Pedagogy: Global Project Design





Flat Classroom 15 Challenges


Challenge #8: Collaborate and Communicate.



Challenge #9: Assess


#9 Bonus! Join in as an Expert Advisor or Judge


#9 Bonus! Join in as an Advisor or Judge

Despite being a classroom teacher in the most recent FCP 10-3 project, I also signed on to not only judge, but to co-coordinate the judging with co-teacher Brian McLaughlin. Additionally, in an attempt to fill voids where necessary, I participated in judging student videos, as I have done throughout many prior projects with regularly participating judges such as Marie Coleman and Lisa Durff. While I have served as a judge on the front end, this was my first exposure to the 'back end' of the data aggregation and sorting of the judges' results in order to determine the student award-winning videos.

WOW! There simply does not seem to be any word to express the feeling of what attempting to sift through all of the judging data was like. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Here is a mere piece of what Brian and I had to sift through, as there were pages of data that appeared like this (as did Vicki and Julie in many past projects):
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Reflection


In my professional opinion, there simply has got to be a better way. Unfortunately, I do not have the answer, just yet. It is best described by the following feedback I provided directly to Julie and Vicki regarding the judging process:

  • Judge Qualifications - Not sure whether or not this is realistic as obviously we want and welcome judges from a variety of backgrounds, however, I almost think it could be beneficial to have a layer of judges that have intensely participated in a FCP project before judging - ideally, a teacher. As I reviewed many of the comments and judges' feedback, it was blatantly obvious who was familiar with FCPs and who was not and the scoring discrepancies followed suit. Some very good videos did not make it to the awards because they were only the choice of one judge in some cases. That can be terribly discouraging for the student who has worked so very hard.
  • Judging Preparation - I agree that there could be some more training on the front end in this area. I almost think we need to look for and finalize judges at the BEGINNING of the project and perhaps even involve them in some aspects of the project (if they have never participated before) so that they become more familiar with the process. It seems as though we rush to much at the end to finalize the judges and we end up accepting anyone as a judge in a time of great need. When I read back through the instructional emails we all sent regarding judging, it sounds so simple and understandable to us - but to some with not as much experience - it could easily sound like we are speaking another language. That was apparent to me by some of the judges' comments, as well.
  • Templates - LOVE the idea of a template for credits. Actually, it would level the playing field and focus judges back on the mash-up of multimedia versus technicalities. For some students, they can not help that their teacher may not be detailed enough and provide as much direction regarding proper citations. Given that we are dealing with high school students and the project is open to all subject areas, not every student is being taught citations, copyright, and Creative Commons as they may be specifically in a writing, english or communications course. Many teachers are not even sure in many cases of why these elements are SO important to the sustainability of the project.
  • Project Size - A resounding yes that this particular project had way too many students/people. When I compare participating in this year's project versus participating in others - especially one we did, Julie, during a Spring semester with Salim, Torsten and another US classroom - it seemed my students were more involved then, given the intimacy of a smaller project. It makes sense to break it up further and set a limit of students for each wiki - perhaps 100 student max. Not to mention all of the difficulties we had this round with scripting errors and too much copying and pasting. And, I am sure you've thought of this given the nature of the FCP Teacher Cert. program. It would make more sense have multiple projects, headed-up by like-minded teachers wherein perhaps there is just one USA school, one European school, one Asian, etc., or something more of that nature.


Module 5: Choices and Creation

Pedagogy: Global Project Design


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Flat Classroom 15 Challenges



Challenge #10: Give Students a Choice



Challenge #11: Align Your Project to Standards



Reflection

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Module 6: Global Project Design Elements

Pedagogy: Global Project Design


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Flat Classroom 15 Challenges



Challenge #13: Project Design

Do after: Module 6: Global Project Design Essentials
Do: Through your personal learning network, suggest or join a group of people to pursue a plan for a Flat Classroom - style project in your content area that interests you. Using the strategies learned in this book and the material from the chapter, design your project.
Share: Blog and share your idea with others, recruiting others to participate as it works for the project. If you plan on using this in the classroom, share with your colleagues and plan internally with your calendar.
tag: fcc13_design
www.flatclassroombook.com/challenge13/

#13 Bonus!: Engage with Social Media

Do After: Module 6: Global Project Design Essentials
Do: Using your learning, connect and share your project from Challenge #13 with others and if desired, recruit participants for peer classrooms, expert advisors, mentors, and judges.
Share: Keep a journal or use a twitter hash tag to tweet out the results of your social media engagement efforts to help your project.
tag: fcc4b_social
www.flatclassroombook.com/4b_social


Reflection


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Module 7: Celebration

Pedagogy: Global Project Design


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Flat Classroom 15 Challenges



Challenge #12: Celebration and Summation

Do after: Module 7: Celebration
Do: Participate in a summit for your learning as part of your course or in one of our learning summits as shown in the schedule at www.flatclassroombook.com/ch9. The summit should be recorded and you should have a graphic to present in the on-line classroom as you reflect upon what you’ve learned.
Optional. If you do not have a course or group to present with, recruit three to four people in your learning community to attend your brief on-line presentation in a classroom. Share with them a summary of what you have learned and a celebration of your accomplishment!

Share: Blog about the process of presenting in an on-line classroom and summarize your presentation. Embed your graphic and a link to the recording of the presentation (if available.) Suggest at least one idea for a flat classroom - style project that relates to your content area.
tag: fcc12_summit
www.flatclassroombook.com/challenge12/



Reflection


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Module 8: Advanced Global Project Design and Management

Pedagogy: Global Project Design


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Flat Classroom 15 Challenges


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Reflection


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Module 9: Putting it all together

Pedagogy: Global Project Design


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Flat Classroom 15 Challenges



Challenge #14: Pitching your Global Project Design

Do after: Module 9 - Putting it all together
Do: Prepare a 5 min. pitch detailing your ideas for a new global collaborative project based on the design ideas discussed and explored during this course. This pitch will be delivered during a live Elluminate online meeting and recorded for future review. Include in this presentAlso, include a link to the project outline online that also includes suggestions for implementation.
Share: Your presentation online (via your journal and/or blog/wiki, including any visuals necessary to share and communicate your ideas.
tag: fcc14_pgpd
www.flatclassroombook.com/challenge14fcpcert


Challenge #15: Flat Classroom Project re-design!

Do After: Module 9 - Putting it all together
Do: You are asked to take on a task to do with Flat Classroom Project organisation e.g. sounding board, judging, expert advisors, wiki editing, outsourced video organisation, Ning management, student summits, teachers meetings etc.
Share: Share via your journal both your project experience and developments in re-design showing clear ideas for improvements in design and organisation for the Flat Classroom Project specifically (if any).
tag: fcc15_fcpdesign
www.flatclassroombook.com/challenge15fcpcert/
See www.flatclassroombook.com/certifiedteachers/ for a list of those who have completed these challenges.

Challenge - FINAL: Flat Classroom Certified Teacher

Do After: Module 9 - Putting it all together
Do: Complete the confidential survey with documented links to the actions you took to complete the Flat Classroom Fifteen to receive your Flat Classroom Certified Teacher: Silver Level Badge. Review on-line additional certification levels that may apply to your situation (based upon bonus work and verification processes.) (Note: Because of manpower involved, some higher levels may require an expense to verify and certify your work or it may be included in your course.) Note that you are not required to submit for certification to fill out the survey and provide feedback to the authors in the on-line forum to improve this book and share your ideas.
Share: Tweet fcc_complete to @coolcatteacher and @julielindsay to let the authors know you’ve finished your work!
tag: fcc_complete
www.flatclassroombook.com/challengefcpfinal
See www.flatclassroombook.com/certifiedteachers/ for a list of those who have completed these challenges.



Reflection


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