Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hopes and Dreams

It’s almost that time of year again for many teachers – the time when eager little smiles will walk into your classroom outfitted with clothes and supplies from their back to school shopping trip. For some teachers with a different school year than mine, your back to school experience might not be this month, but hopefully it is filled with the same feeling of rejuvenated hopes and dreams. Many teachers I know actually build in a Hopes and Dreams student activity as part of their beginning of the year routines. I hope you do! Perhaps this student's hopes for her new classroom can inspire you to integrate some 21st century tools in your classroom.

Perhaps you can learn a new tool to help your student express their hopes and dreams. Perhaps you can help them expand the scope to more global hopes and dreams. Perhaps you can provide the next stepping stone to dream that will only be realized long after they leave your classroom.

Recently, I overheard a teacher tell a colleague “This year, I’m going to make sure that the kids write hopes and dreams that we can actually accomplish in our classroom”. I wanted to say “Oh, please don’t!”. Today’s technology puts tools in your student’s hands that will allow them to express their dreams in ways that were not possible only a few years ago. What about using Animoto or Voicethread to create a classroom hopes and dreams project? Perhaps start a list on a project like 43 things.

Today’s technology can knock down the walls and open the possibilities for you to reach far across the globe. How about using Google Maps, Google Earth or Google Sky to take a field trip that your students’ could only dream of not so long ago. Video’s available through You Tube, Google Video, or other video-sharing websites, along with other video services such as Discovery Education Streaming, Annenberg Media, or National Geographic Video can also help your students’ dreams reach far beyond their classroom.

Today’s technology makes it possible for you to connect with someone who can help your students achieve one of their hopes and dreams. Astronauts, authors, video game producers, Olympic athletes, visiting your classroom are more possible than they ever were through tools like email or video chat. Consider having your students use a service like Skype or GabCast to turn a phone call interview into a podcast of someone who has achieved one of their hopes and dreams.

Today’s technology allow you to collaborate with others who have similar hopes and dreams. Consider joining one of the many collaborative projects made possible by collaborative tools such as those featured at Global School House’s Project Registry, Taking IT Global, or Epals. If you’ve never experienced the power of global collaborative projects in your classroom, check out Jim and Mali's Keynote Address from NECC 2008 (two outstanding teachers whose practice was transformed through their participation in global collaborative projects)

But most importantly, today’s technology is available to you as teachers to be a tool that helps your students reach their hopes and dreams.

As teachers, we are in the fortunate position to help our students get one step closer to realizing their hopes and dreams. If for any reason, you need a little convincing of this, I strongly suggest you put aside an hour to watch “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. Randy, whose legacy includes ALICE, a program that helps kids learn the concepts of programming through storytelling and animation. In this inspirational video, Randy shares his childhood dreams with his audience during some of the last months of his fight with cancer. His lecture is filled with inspirational messages to today’s teachers, parents, mentors, and children about the people and events that helped him realize his childhood dreams.

May you be one of the forces in your students’ life that takes them one step closer to realizing their hopes and dreams. And please, please, share your Hopes and Dreams activities with other readers or simply add to the this Hopes and Dreams VoiceThread.