Olympians, Digital Teens & Edcamp USDOE

Steven Anderson

Steven Anderson

This is my 2nd in a weekly series at Connect Learning Today, where I explore a few things that I have seen or heard. These are things that are pushing my thinking, getting me to see something in a different way, or just something I want to share. This week I’m sharing 3 things that have me excited this week.

Connect With Olympic Athletes: Imagine you are 9 years old. You and your classmates are watching and learning about the Olympics, talking about the importance of fitness, graphing the stats of athletes in the various competitions, and discussing goals you have for now and the future.

Then picture when an Olympic athlete that you have been watching appears in your classroom from Beijing or Alberta or South Africa via telepresence to check in on you and your class to see how your theme of the month (respect) is getting on.

Imagine that the whole time you embark on the journey, your athlete is with you and your class every step of the way. Think of the project-based learning that will inspire. You make videos, write letters, integrate technology in the learning, and all with the support of an Olympian…

When Gold Medalist, Steve Mesler, approached me to be a part of the Classroom Champions there was no way I could turn him down. When I read about what it was and what they do I was literally speechless. The opportunities Mesler, his team, and the other athletes are providing to kids all across the country is truly different from anything I had ever seen or been a part of.

The Mission:

To connect students in high-need schools with top performing athletes in order to motivate them to recognize their potential, set goals and dream big, while educating them in the practical use of communications technology.

Here is how it works:

Like a kind of 21st century pen-pal, each Athlete Ambassador adopts 1-4 classrooms per year, focusing on their own personal journeys. Ambassadors teach about the hard work of training, goal setting, competition and perseverance. Using blogs and live video chats, students are engaged with their Ambassador several times per month. The program supports teachers by helping them incorporate these activities into their curricula, focusing on letter writing, reading, geography, math, technology, goal setting and leadership.

There is a ton more information about what you need to do as part of the program, such as participating regularly in the community, creating videos and lessons, etc. Discover the program eligibility at the website.

I am so proud to be a part of this program, and you can be a part of it as well. Applications are open now through March 31. Teachers in classrooms in the US and Canada are invited to apply. I hope you will apply and encourage other educators in your school or district to apply as well. Be sure to head over to Classroom Champions to read more about the program.

It’s Complicated: For adults, what teenagers do online has been somewhat of a mystery. We assume they spend their days writing about relationships or drama or other similar stuff. Researcher Danah Boyd set out to confirm the myths or debunk them altogether.

In her new book It’s Complicated Danah talks with groups of teens all over the country to get to the bottom of their online, social lives to see what really matters to them, when it comes to living in this digital world. She examines how services like Instagram and Snapchat really shape their thinking, and takes a hard look at cyberbullying, its affects and what is really happening.

I’ve just started reading my copy and I am excited to dive deeper. It should be required reading for any educator working with pre-teens or teens, and for parents as well. We need to better understand the digital world our students and children are growing up in, so we can reach them and teach them better.

You can buy the book on Amazon or download a PDF copy for free on Danah’s website.

Edcamp USDOE: As someone who has had the honor of attending several Edcamps, and the pleasure of being an Edcamp organizer, I am super excited about this announcement.

The Edcamp Foundation has partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to host the first ever Edcamp USDOE.

Wait, you don’t know what an Edcamp is?

At its core Edcamp is an independently organized day of professional development for teachers. Sessions are decided on by the participants that day, and really meet the needs of those attending. You can read more about Edcamps here, and see some in Edcamp action too.

Edcamp USDOE will bring together educators and policy makers for some deep conversations about the education direction we are going as a nation. You can read more about what will be taking place here.

Edcamp USDOE will be free to attend, but because there’s limited on space, a ticket  lottery will will be held, so be sure to sign up early!

Steven Anderson is @Web20Classroom on Twitter. Steven is a teacher, an instructional technology integrator, speaker/presenter, and education leader. He will be a regular at Connect Learning Today.

Steven Anderson

Steven Anderson is @Web20Classroom on Twitter. Steven is a teacher, an instructional technology integrator, speaker/presenter, and education leader. He will be a regular at Connect Learning Today.
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