I had a unique opportunity yesterday. I visited the same school twice in the same day. With 60 elementary and 16 secondary schools, this is really a unique happening for me. Our Century Secondary School is one of the secondary schools that I’m aligned to for our secondary school PLC building capacity project so when they wanted some support, I was happy to help out.
One of the goals for all teachers is increasing student performance. One of Century’s core beliefs is “We believe that all students can learn, given sufficient time and appropriate support.” All year, Chef Robert has been building upon that by the incorporation of web activities into his class.
On my first visit, it was essentially to trouble shoot. In addition to the blogging that has happened with this particular class, they have been very interested in bringing in guest chefs to talk and work with the students. It is rather difficult to bring speakers into class and so they have been working with alternatives. Recently, they had had a chef Skype into the class and that was OK but they were looking for something more engaging and richer for the interactive experience.
Consequently, I had created an Adobe Connect account for the teacher and he was having difficulties getting it to work and so I had a chance to hop over and talk about it. The problem was little on my end but big on his but we resolved that quickly. We were working through the situation in the excellent kitchen facilities there. The class was preparing for lunch and so as we were working through our issue, there was a milling about and discussion of the luncheon menu and what would be created. It was organized chaos just like I would have expected any kitchen of this size but the questions and interactions made it clear that the students took great pride in what they were doing and wanted to do their best. I was even privvy to a discussion about whether relish was a vegetable or not!
So, the situation solved and I was about to leave when Chef Robert indicated that he was going to give Adobe Connect a shake down with Ms. Middleton’s Media class over the lunch period. I invited myself to the class and set about to finish some of the other tasks at hand in different locations. In the meantime, a group of students connected their digital video cameras to a television and showed off their interviews with staff members about the importance of eating healthy.
I was back for 12:30.
We set up the chef with the administrative account in the library and brought the class into the room. We introduced the students to the software and got them to log in. Chef Robert learned how to manage entry and exit into the private meeting room and it wasn’t long before everyone was connected. Some were on school machines on the wired network, another student was using one of the school’s netbooks, and another young lady had her own personal pink Toshiba. So, it had to be connected to the wireless guest network. But, that’s just details. The web was the tie that bound them all together.
Of course, the first thing the students zeroed in on was the chat area. There’s no way to head that off easily with teenagers so we let them have a little chat a thon to get started but interest quickly turned to the whole collaboration deal when we enabled the webcams on the pink Toshiba and the school netbook. The audio chatting was a nice feature too.
Then, we started to talk about the collaboration opportunities of the environment. We used the collaborative whiteboards, at first for doodling, but then turned to education. We started a topic of a menu item and the students jumped in to add to the list of ingredients, etc. that would be needed to make the item. (in this case it was pizza)
The chatting and talking in the room was pretty amazing. The students were focused on the activity and, even me, the guest for the period was warmly welcomed to the group and we talked about a number of different things and ways that this could be used.
It was also interesting to see the different approaches. The big people in the room were concerned about control and setup of the application and getting right to the educational value of the application. The growing people in the room hopped right into the environment and were working together to “get it to do this” and “how do I get it to do that”? Left alone, it wouldn’t be educationally successful. The big people needed the growing people to use the application in a responsible, educational manner. The growing people need the big people to enable them to use the environment for the collaboration. Each needed each other. Isn’t that the standard by which all of this should work?
The next steps will obviously be to master the meeting room on the part of Chef Robert but I left feeling the excitement that everyone knew of the possibilities. It will be interesting to follow this and see what happens when they invite a real chef into the classroom. Perhaps David Adjey?