Sunday, March 23, 2014

Participating in an #EduCafe

Thanks to my Professional Learning Network (especially Twitter), I have the opportunity to interact with progressive and inspiring teachers on a daily basis. While I learn a ton from teacher blog posts, stories, and pictures, it is very rare to actually witness the work of a respected teacher. I hear and read about the fantastic things going on in the classroom, but never get to see them live. Last week this changed.

An educator I respect very much, Beth Sanders (@MsSandersTHS), ran online streams during a class EduCafe. An EduCafe is a series of short student presentations meant to invoke discussion and participation. The topic of this EduCafe was the civil rights movement. Beth does a truly remarkable job using technology and social media to empower her students. She did the same for this EduCafe. Beth leveraged the power of her PLN to find authentic audience members for the presentations. Students asked specific people on Twitter to join them for the presentations. I was excited to sign up for a 10 minute talk on the Chicano movement and ecstatic to peak inside Beth's classroom.

On the day of the EduCafe, Beth and several students tweeted me a link to the live stream on Ustream. From there the process was simple enough. I followed the link and used Twitter to interact with the presenters and the class. It was inspiring to see well-prepared students explore relevant social justice topics. After the brief presentation, the real magic began. Class members asked the presenters questions and Beth took questions from a live Twitter hashtag. Students received questions from people around the country and offered up truly amazing responses. The classroom was not limited to the people in the room, the classroom was the world.

How cool is that?!

How empowering to students?!

They were able to see and experience the value of their knowledge, ideas, and opinions. They felt comfortable sharing personal experience and connections. They were held in high esteem, they were the professional learners. They took seriously the responsibility of tackling the subject matter at hand. They believed in the power of learning and action. What a transformative classroom culture!

During the question period I tweeted a question to the group. "Do you think people are afraid of Chicano empowerment?"

I could not believe the answer offered by one of the presenters. "I think people are afraid of any type of empowerment." I was speechless.

There is truly something special going on in that classroom. It was a wonderful experience for me to actually witness the inspiring work of another educator. Now to get my students a more authentic audience!

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