I love how Judy Lee explains how building things brings the two sides of her brain together. As teachers, that’s something we’re always trying to help our students achieve. Judy also mentions the importance of working in teams to solve problems. Ernie has super-throwing (and freezing!) powers. It’s not an easy task to incorporate all of this into our lessons; yet it can be, if we look towards others for examples.
Ernie Easter is an exemplary teacher in New Sweden, Maine and a gentleman whom I have never met in person. He reached out to me via a simple, often educationally-underestimated social networking tool, Twitter. Ernie had an idea for a competition in his class. He would organize his 7th grade students into groups of 3 or 4 and assign the task of designing an insulated package that would house a snowball that could be shipped intact to our school in South Florida. Ernie would provide dry ice but the rest would be up to the students. Once the package arrived, my 4th grade students would record their observations of the snowball and the packaging and report our findings back to Ernie’s class. This would be enriching and very exciting on so many levels. Many of my students had never seen snow, they were just learning about recording observations, they would also be working in teams to observe and record, and they would be designing a way to report back to Ernie’s teams. Additionally my students would be working to share this project with others in our school and outside our school, using some type of medium of their choice, whether it be a poster, newsletter, blog post, Glogster, Voicethread, video, photo montage, or any other idea of their own.
I challenge educators out there to find another teacher somewhere in the world and make a connection. There are many venues for finding other educators who are interested in collaborating on simple but rewarding projects guaranteed! Here are a few to get you started (some require an account but all are free): Teachers Connecting, PBS Teachers, and Twitter 4 Teachers.