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Back Home, And the Digital Journey Continues Sharing Our Message Loud and Often

Written by Writing for Change
February 16, 2013

Once my plane landed from Washington D.C. last weekend, I no sooner received an email from my school district asking if I would share the work from our Digital Learning Day trip with our local business leaders. Just down the street from my school literally within blocks is our El Cajon Chamber of Commerce. They meet monthly, and had seen the local news broadcast about our visit to Washington and they wanted to hear more about the work we are doing at CVMS and the the Writing Project.

Well one thing I have learned is to not be shy in asking for partnerships and support. I have a new mission on our digital journey, to start to set the tone of the discussions. We as teachers need to share the wonderful things that happen each and every day in the classroom. We are more than media soundbites, and the work is wonderful, powerful, and on-going. It is critical that we use our voices and share our professional expertise from the classroom. Never more importantly than now with the many challenges and changes in our educational system.

So I came with this slideshow about the work.

The focus of the discussion  was not about the trip, it was about what we are doing to empower future student leaders. I was able to discuss what we are doing in the classroom to create students who can think and create and use technology to not just be consumers of media, but create the messages produced in the media.

That sparked an interesting discussion around the table. One question was, “Will you be packaging this program so it can be replicated in other classrooms?” What a great opportunity to talk about the power of teacher discussion, that this isn’t a program, but an opportunity to meet the needs of students right where they are. We talked about the value of Edmodo teacher groups, and release time for teachers to create programs that fit the needs of their students. The power of teachers working together to use tools that are out there to meet their needs of the moment, and expand their student’s knowledge. I was able to talk about the art of teaching, the importance of collaboration and innovation and not the creation of a product designed as a one size fits all program that ends of meeting the needs of very few.
I related the discussion to their businesses. Do you want an employee who knows only one method, one way? Do you want someone who comes to you seeking only one choice out of four options or as business and political leaders, or do you want students coming to you with the ability to work together and create new options?  That changed the tide of the conversation and we spent about 15 minutes talking about the use of discussion boards, digital citizenship, and the use of technology in business. In a short conversation they were able to see that education and business are not dichotomous entities, but intertwined.
Then one person asked the magic question, “How can we support you and what type of money are we talking here?” So I asked for grant opportunities, business partnerships and fund raising ideas. I said we need 45,000 dollars for a new laptop cart, we are seeking scholarship donations for our summer writing program so my students can afford to attend. I would love a digital program that allows me to see each student computer as they work installed on my laptop so I can monitor student work and that was about 500 dollars. I gave them a link to our website, and highlighted the donation page. I handed out business cards and thanked them for their time. Two people stepped out of the meeting to talk with me about coming to the site and visit. I took the business card of a representative from Congressman Joel Anderson’s office and will be contacting them again as well.

All this before school started yesterday. We began at 8am, and by 840 I was in my car and started my classroom instruction at 9 am. Digital research with students on a Friday is a great way to end the week. Here’s hoping that soon those local leaders will step into our classrooms and see what is happening right there down the street. We need to open our doors and inform the public on our terms. I truly believe it needs to begin with  one teacher, one classroom at a time. I am trying to live the mantra  I am teaching my students, “Create the message, don’t just consume the message.” If I want people to see the amazing talent I am finding in my students, then I need to step up and help create opportunities for that to happen.