Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Vow Of Silence

Cross posted at Embracing Citizenship

Free the Children have an annual awareness campaign called The Vow of Silence

The main goal for the Grade 8 Teaching team at Sargent Park was to make our students aware of why it is important to stand in solidarity with the millions of child labourers in the world.

The Students in our school need to know that they do not need to  stand by while children are subjected to exploitation, poverty and the denial of their basic rights.

The Vow of Silence is a way to make them aware.  So on November 30th this year all of the Grade 8 students and many of their classmates went silent for a day.  In the school teachers did not talk, annoucments were not read and silence reigned over all.  It was amazing.  For a loonie or a toonie the students were allowed and encouraged not to talk, use cellphones, text, connect on the internet for a day.  Many passed the test.  Hallways were silent during classtime, during class change and even during lunch.  Ordering lunch was difficult when you do not have a voice but students managed to communicate even without a voice.

The Grade 8 team passed out information for other teachers to use in their classes.  Articles talking about the exploitation of children around the world were used as language arts and social studies lessons.  As a school we became more aware.

At the end of the day when it was all over students and staff were more aware of what was going on around the world. We had also raised over $300 for Free the Children. 

Did you take the Vow of Silence this year? It is never to late.
Here is what our day sounded and looked like.

I Will Statements

Cross Posted at Embracing Citizenship

In preparation for their citizenship unit this year we got the students to come up with I will statements.  We had them watch Spencer West and the Kielburgers from previous We Day Events.  Following the videos we brainstormed, did some group work and allowed the students to come up with statements of I Will... Each of these statements were supposed to be large and transformative for them. All of the statements did not end up being as grand as we planned.  I think this works in our favour.  It will allow us to revisit them in the future, see which statements were weak or easily accomplished and which ones withstood time and are still ongoing.

Here is the video we produced with their I will statements.

Monday, November 28, 2011

We Day 2011 Wrap up

This is a post is also found at my Embracing Citizenship blog.

It is just under a week ago that 45 of us from Sargent Park School attended We Day in Winnipeg.  What a wonderful event.  If your city does not have a We Day I highly recommend becoming a Free the Children School and traveling to the closest city that has one.  It is a life changing event for many students.
Starting early in the morning the students arrived at school and prepared to go to the MTS Centre.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

We decided to go by transit bus due to the ease of getting to and from downtown.  This proved to be the right decision. The bus picked us up right out side the school and had us at We Day in under 15 minutes. Yeah bring on We Day.

Before the concert the students went to the various t shirt outlets and souvenir kiosks and purchased many items to remember We Day.  These souvenirs would go with the We Day shirts we created at school.  Being dressed as a team was a gave us that togetherness feeling. 

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10
It should be noted that other divisions bought tshirts for their entire crew that went to We Day.  These florescent yellow  shirts really glowed in the black light of the arena and would be standing out on TV and the simulcast.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10
We Day then started in earnest.  This concert was designed for youth.  It was amazing.  You had 5 to 6 minutes of high energy music and dancing followed by a short video and then a speaker.  This kept the attention of all those in the audience.  Amazing messages were soaked in by all the students in the audience.

Memorable speakers were The Honorable Paul Martin, Mia Farrow, Hannah Taylor, and Rick Hansen.  But it was Spencer West and the Kielburger Brothers.  The ability of these speakers to stir emotions inside todays teens and make them want to be agents of change shows the power of the day. 

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10
Kids walked out of the Arena wanting to do more.  Asking questions about how they were going to change things at school, in their community and around the globe.

Arriving back at the school we had a debriefing session and started with the next stage of this process.  The Vow of Silence.

This will take place on November 30.  Our goal, to silence our school, raise $500 and stand in solidarity with those who do not have a voice around the world.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10
Updates to follow!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween for Hunger... The Results

Today is November 1st and the students have returned from Halloween for Hunger.  Over half of the students participated.  I am very impressed.  These students decided to forgo candy at houses to ask for donations to Winnipeg Harvest.  We have great kids.  One of their comments this morning was...
"The people in the neighborhood were all saying WE LOVE Sargent Park Kids".  Well so do I.

I set the bar high when I asked these students to participate.  I asked them to try to get 1400 items for harvest.  They almost made this goal.  They brought in 1281 items for Winnipeg Harvest.  It is all sitting in my computer lab.  Tomorrow we will package it up and send it up the street to the food bank.

Way to go Sargent Park.  You are truly amazing.  Great group of kids and fantastic team of teachers pushing you to bigger and better things.  Keep it up... soon we will be doing more great things. 

Here is a movie of the students creating a wall with 1300 items of food.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New Year New Citizenship Curriculum

Well it is the end of October, the temperature is cooling off here in Manitoba but it is rising inside the Grade 8 classes at Sargent Park School.  We are embarking on our fourth year of Teaching Citizenship and we have added a few new twists.

One of the first twists is that we have asked the students to participate in an activity called Halloween for Hunger.

We have had 3 meetings with the students so far.  Of the 140 that we teach between 60 and 70 are willing to do this activity.  Wow if each student brings in 10 items for our food bank that would be over 700 items.  Our class food drives have been successful so far and we have brought in between 100 and 200 items.  I am proud of our students.  Great cause too.  Helping hunger at Halloween instead of helping tooth decay.

This year we are a We School.  This means that we get to participate in We Day in Winnipeg and do activities for Free the Children.  This has opened up many opportunities for our students to see the power of youth in action. We get to take 45 students to this event.  So they are showing us actions they are doing to be chosen.  Sadly there will be lots of competition. and not enough seats.  The rest of the rooms will watch the simulcast on Much Music back at the school.

Here is what we have done so far....

To inspire the students about the power of humanity we showed this X-Factor Australia clip. If  you have not seen it you need to. Warning you will need some kleenex at the end.  Powerful stuff. When showing this to your students stop it at the 50 second mark.  Talk about what they have seen then play the rest of the video.  (The crafting of this video by X-factor is also worth noting.  For a film class it is amazing how powerful the soundtrack and editing is)

Our first We Day activities focused around Spencer West and Craig Keilburger.  Spencer is a motivational speaker for a group called Me to We.  It is affiliated with Free the Children and pushes youth to become active in their community and around the world.  We showed a video of Spencer

Following that we had the kids read a biography of Spencer we had found online.  The students read the biography and highlighted the key words.  We are going to have them put all the words into a Word splash like a Wordle.

Once the students complete this task they are doing a few different activities, found on the second page of the document.  Most importantly we want the kids to go from I COULD to I WILL statements.  Following the I WILL statements we will take a photo of the students eyes and I WILL statement over their mouths.  This will be made into a movie and photo mosaic like the one found at this Ewan McIntosh post. Instead of hands we will use our I WILL statements.  It should be powerful.
We also introduced the students to Craig Keilburger.  In my opinion one of the most important Canadians of all time.  At such a young age Craig is the founder and spark behind the Free the Children Organization.  This is a group he started when he was but.... 11 years old.

As we were studying and learning about Craig the idea was to draw parallels between his life and the lives of my students.  We used a 3 column approach to attack this issue.  I found a biography of Craig online and the students read and watched the video to find out key characteristics about Craig's life and passions. It was interesting to see all the interest in what he had accomplished and to see them struggle to see similarities between what their lives are like and what his has been.  Once the students had done this note taking we asked them to choose 4 character traits they admire in Craig and write a few sentences explaining why they had chosen them.

Lots of work for a morning but it was amazing.  I had two classes in my room.  That is 70 students.  All of them were on task and talking about what we were doing and the people they had just met on video and print.

We will continue this lesson on Monday morning.  Following this we will show Pay It Forward and inspire the students to do Random Acts of Kindness!! Wow they will really start to change soon!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Updates and a Citizenship Curriculum?

Keeping a internal promise I made this summer I am trying to blog more this year.  One of the things I will do is to do monthly updates on my pedagogy and goings on at school.  Welcome to the end of my first month.

In math we started a collaborative project with two schools in Ontario.  My posts were all under the Mantario Running tag at the Sargent Park Mathzone.  I am grateful to my two Ontario schools who also participated.  I need to apologize about my fizzling out at the end.  We managed to incorporate a good deal of a ratio, rate and proportion unit around our cross country seasons.  Now that cross country season is over I hope to connect with Andy and Heather's classes in eluminate and do some creative problem solving.

Speaking of running.  Did you know that my Cross Country team won all four categories eligable to us this year.  Fantastic running and they trained over 3500 kms collectively.  Great job runners! Here is our map.

View Mantario Running in a larger map

Our next Math Unit will be on graphing.  I have found two great lessons from NCTM that fit into our Citizenship Project this year.  I am looking forward to pushing my students to learn graphing and learn about world issues at the same time.  Amazing how things fall into our laps sometimes.

Speaking of Citizenship, Sargent Park, is part of WeDay this year.

This is so exciting.  If you are interested in teaching responsibility and citizenship to your students their website is where you need to go.  I am amazed by what the Free the Children organization presents to teachers and students.  We still will be doing our old favorites to build citizenship this year.  Pay it Forward, 25 Cents a Day and 2 Minutes to Make a Difference. But we are adding more fabulous things this year.  We will do a Halloween Foodbank Drive.  Instead of going out and asking for candy students will have a choice to go to their neighbours and ask for donations of canned goods to take to a foodbank.

Amazingly enough October was our foodbank drive month.  Kismit again!! In November we will do the Vow of Silence that is to educate the students about children who are subjected to exploitation, poverty and the denial of their basic rights.

It seems like so much to do in so little time but with a team effort we can build the leaders of tomorrow and teach the curriculum too. With that in mind I have started a new blog. Very much in its infancy but a place for my students to go when they are trying to make a difference. Titled Embracing Citizenship it will be a hub and information stop for this new Citizenship Curriculum my team and I are creating at Sargent Park School. Wow all of that in September.... so much time still to go and we are filled to the rim with goodness. Looking forward to October and November.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Hard Drive Failure

cc licensed flickr photo shared by hindesite

I never thought I would say this but.... please back up your backup!! A few weeks ago I had a catastrophic hard drive meltdown.  Not on my aging MBP but on my brand new Lacie External Hard Drive.  Here is how it unfolded.

I was sitting in my working spot uploading photos to my Aperture Libraries when my Lacie fell over on the carpet.  It did not fall off a table, or even 6 cms nope it just fell over onto the carpet.  I was not all that worried till I heard the tell tale sound of clicking.... OMG you have to be kidding me.

I tried to recover anything from the drive, took it into the shop but was told it was a HD failure.  On that drive were 2 years of photos:(

Such a simple accident can ruin so many memories.  Not everything was lost. I had most photos on flickr so I used photo grabbr to get most of them back to a new HD.  What I could not find on flickr I found on my Time Machine backup in the basement.  Out of 5000+ photos I only lost about 250 but that is 250 to many.  I recommend that all of us who use external drives find other drives to back up all photos on. 

I am now putting my raw masters onto a different usb hard drive after putting them onto the Lacie.  I really do not want to relive that weekend over again.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why Connections Matter

As many of you know already a fantastic event happened in the beginning of August.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Unplug'd was a summit of Canadian Educators who came together because ________ Matters.  We got together, networked, talked and were a group for three intensive days.  What came out of it was a terrific document and more importantly were connections.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Every week the connections and people we met at The Edge in Ontario get stronger and stronger.  We read each others material, we chat in twitter and Google+ and find new ways to collaborate and make our pedagogy stronger. Already new collaborations are on my horizon  with @aforgave, @hdurninand @alanahcallan!!

Being part of the ds106 broadcast and lurking in on Google+ it was fun to see the personalities of Allanah (Her Smile and boat distractions) and Gulia how was working the board from behind the scenes with a Cheshire cat grin on her face.  I love all of you.

Why do you have to have Conferences, meetings, meet-ups with collegues who give a damn..... it is because we are not alone.  We are connected.  It is fun and great to share ideas and collaborate with each other.

Unplug'd Rocked. Correction Unplug'd is still Rockin!!

Running for a Purpose

   have been an athlete for many years. I started swimming when I was 12 and continued until I was 20.  The following years were a combination of trying out different sports.  I ran, ran the Timex Road Racing Series in Winnipeg and even tried triathlons.... but it wasn't until last year where I hooked up with a trainer/friend and started training for marathons.  My first real training since I was a swimmer.  It felt great and I love training again.  But wait this is not why I am writing this post.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Part of my training regiment for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon is to run a Half Marathon on September 5th.  No big deal I have run dozens of half marathons.  It is the cause that got my attention.  Most half marathons have a cause that you can fundraise for.  Normally I shy away from this and use my entry fee as my donation.  This half marathon is different.  The cause is Diabetes.  Normally that wouldn't do much for me until May of this year.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

During the month of May one of my twins Colin started to have headaches and wetting the bed frequently.  We took him to the doctor and we were sent immediately to the Endocrinologist. We informed that he had Type 1 Diabetes.  Colin had lost the lottery and was the one in 600 kid that had a bad pancreas. It just stopped working.  Colin took it stride, we as parents learned how to give him insulin, and life moved on. New routines new challenges but life moved on

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Interestingly enough soon after Colin was diagnosed lots of stories in the news was talking about new advancements in Diabetes Research.  It was most promising. Perhaps in Colin's lifetime he will be cured of this disease.

I have friends with Type 1 Diabeties, @cogdog has run many a marathon to raise funds for diabetes. Now it is my turn to ask for help.  You too can play a part in curing this disease.

Link to>>> Sponsoring my run....<<<< 

 will provide funds to search for a cure for diabetes. I know there are many of you out there.  If we all do a little it is amazing how those "littles" become so much.  Thank you in advance.  I will keep you posted on the fundraising and the result!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Unplug'd Experience

The Unplug'd Participantscc licensed flickr photo shared by unplugd
From August 5 to 7th 2011 forty Canadian Educators got together to spend time talking about "Why ________ Matters!".  It was a truly Canadian experience. Why had we gotten together and were would this be leading us too?  These are questions I still wrestle with today when explaining to people what we accomplished that weekend.  Perhaps the Unplug'd website would help. Here is what it said:

UnPlug’d brings together Canadian educational change agents to share peer-reviewed success stories; to deepen relationships among participants; to publish the collective vision of the group.  Grassroots educators will share their first-hand experiences, collectively considering modern approaches to learning.  The summit will culminate with the release a publication that communicates a vision for the future of K-12 education in Canada.  
 Forty educators, 40 stories made for passionate discussions.  It was the discussion that was so special about Unplugd.  Most of us were familiar with each other from our online PLN.  We had talked, chatted in 140 characters or less but never sat down and looked each other in the eyes and had conversations.  It is always fascinating to meet people in our online network and family F2F.  Things change and we start to hear the passion behind the words that we read so often.  This is one of the reasons why Unplug'd worked. We did deepen relationships with other participants such a powerful experience.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10
We were able to unhook ourselves from the network. Have a F2F network of people all gathered around a table, canoe, dock, lake, cabin, meal anywhere you could sit or be with someone conversations were happening.  Real conversations.  This was so rich.

All of us came with our homework completed.  An essay of 250 to 400 words.  Something you were passionate about.  We were grouped into small pods or chapter groups with a loose connection between us.  What was amazing is that when we all shared our stories and essays it was obvious that we were meant to be in that specific group.  The Organizers had grouped us based on title alone.  As we read, shared and became a team you could see the threads holding us together.  As the organizers said in their introduction
to publish the collective vision of the group.  Grassroots educators will share their first-hand experiences, collectively considering modern approaches to learning.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

When I walked into this project it would be fair that my batteries were on low.  I had gotten through the year, had great students, used tech to capture their imagination and allow them to be producers of learning but still felt empty.  I had not done something new, not found anything to push my envelope of learning.  Unplug'd changed all of that.  Personally I am recharged and have done 2 blog posts in a week.  Reflecting, thinking and sharing thoughts.  Wow! It is fun to write again. All of this would not have happened if it was not for that weekend.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10
But where do we go.  The book has been published.  The Introduction and Chapter 1 are available now  and the next chapters will be published every week.  This allows for discussion, debate and conversations in manageable chunks. I hope you all read the book and soak in the messages that were shared.  Something will resonate with you.  Take that thought, that bit of knowledge and use it to recharge your batteries.

This was a bit of a rambling post but hey I got it done.  There will be more posts to come. Just like a sunrise:)

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Thursday, August 11, 2011

London Riots

Before I begin to unpack the fantastic adventure I had with the #unplugd11 crew out in Ontario a new post popped into my head yesterday.  Yes a new post.  Been a while.  Since April.  Bad Blogging.... but here it is.

As I was driving to pick up my son at his camp the CBC news came on and they were talking about the Riots in London and why they were happening.  One thing mentioned was the disenfranchised youth.  Kids that have been forgotten by social programs, can't find work, or do not want to find work, who are using social media to gather and loot and riot.

Image from London

cc licensed flickr photo shared by tgeasland

This was disturbing in many ways.  The riots in Vancouver show that this is not just a London problem.  Youth these days see it as OK to go on a rampage and destroy things.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Charles de Jesus
Look around you at the litter on the streets and the malaise with so many 20 somethings.  I deal with 13 and 14 year olds.  Most of them keen on life still and less than 20% would be susceptible to joining these RIOTS just because they could do mayhem. So where does it break down.  How do we go from happy kids to ..... lets go break things and be "bad".

This brings me back to the CBC report yesterday.  They interviewed a youth in his 20's in Manchester. What struck me about his interview were the following statements (paraphrasing from memory sorry)
  • Are you not afraid you are going to be caught? Nah I go out all the time till late in the morning.  Never been caught.  How many have they caught anyways 3 or 4 maybe 10 they won't get me.
  • What will happen when you get home? No one cares there. Are they going to ground me? Yell at me. Whatever.
 Here is a youtube video (language warning) not the interview I heard but similar

The tone of the interviewee was so nonchalant, almost I am doing this because I am bored.  That is the scarey part for me.  Just because I am bored I am going to wreck a city and cause lots of damage and hurt people.  Yep I have nothing better to do.

I hope we can find a way to improve peoples way of life.  Give them something to look forward to.  Allow them to find a passion that is something other than looting, violence and mayhem.  Perhaps we can all do our part.

Explain to our kids, tell them what is going on in England. Why it started and how it is able to maintain its intensity.  After we have dealt with our family we then need to figure a way to use this in school to explain to our students the COST of what is happening.  Instant riot leads to long term pain for so many people.

It is a bit of a rant I know but we need to take action now before that youth malaise settles in here and floods over onto the street.  The world is going through a rocky rough time right now.  We all need to do our part.

Just thinking out loud.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Why you need to control your digital footprint

I tell students to be wary and cautious about their digital footprint. Yikes now there is even more proof to be cautious.

Reading students like an open facebook, or how social media is reshaping college admissions
Courtesy of: Schools.com

Make them aware of the perils of acting out on line.  Like an elephant the internet does not forget many things.

Teaching Citizenship Part 3 25 Cents a Day

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Royal_Rivers

Welcome to 25 Cents a day.

This project was inspired by a email I received from Brian Metcalfe.


He had run across this post from 2008. All about one youth and 25 days to try to create change.
I challenged everyone who read my blog to TRY to do something every single day during the holiday season to make a SMALL difference in his or her world. I explained that whoever made the “most difference” in December would win a $25.00 donation to the charity of his or her choice on Christmas night. I SAVED ALL OF MY ALLOWANCE ($25) FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER, AND I WAS REALLY SURPRISED AND EXCITED WHEN SEVERAL PEOPLE  GENEROUSLY OFFERED TO MATCH MY DONATION (OR MORE)!

At Sargent Park we do many things over the holiday months. We have done

This year it was time for the Grade 8 Students to do something different.  

What happens when you challenge students to give up something for a prolonged period of time.  You get many groans and moans.  If you keep it simple enough the groans turn to cheers and hope.  25 cents a day asked students to donate THEIR OWN MONEY so that we could give it to charity.  The goal of this project was to empower students to learn how to give.  Over the 3 weeks of the project the goal was to raise up to $600.  140 students at .25 a day means $35 a day and over the 15 days that would mean about $525.  Of this money half would go to a local charity and the remaining would be donated to Kiva.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by charbeck10

The students were asked to bring in a quarter every day.  A quarter of their own $$ not to ask their parents for it.  The quarter symbolized giving up something for someone else.  It was not a large sum of money but perhaps 1 less chocolate milk a week so that the could help out others in need.  

Can you do without something.  Something small but can you sacrifice for the common good of all.  Students were at different levels of giving.  Some struggled to bring in the quarter while others donated $5 more than once during the campaign.

One might ask did all students participate equally.  The answer would be no.  Just like with society some gave more than others.  I will say this that all students did participate.  All gave at least $1 and felt good about it.

Does this fit here?
Not surprisingly, people who belong to online communities having to do with local matters are more likely to say that the Internet has gotten them more involved with their cities or towns.  One in seven members (14%) of local online groups say the Internet has helped them become more involved in their local community.  Nearly one in five (19%) of people who joined local online groups after first having Internet contact with them say the Internet has increased their involvement with their community.

I sent out a tweet and asked if other schools wanted to participate.  I received 4 responses.  2 of them did not pan out because of their own school policies.  I did get a positive hit from Karl Fisch.  He is an Algebra Teacher at Arapahoe High School in Colorado.  He challenged his students to participate and they raised $ 77 in two weeks.  He then had his father and a friend from Afghanistan join in to top it off at $300.  Having a global connection during this project spurred my students on more.  They started to dig deeper into their pockets and donate even more. Not exorbitant amounts but they did bring in more in.

The hardest part of this project for me was to remember to pass the hat around every class.  The students however would remind me and continue to donate.  In the end we raised $519.  That is close to our goal of $600.  I donated some extra to Agape Table on their behalf and topped up the Kiva fund.  

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Here is the twist.  When I introduced the students to Kiva they became even more attentive.  On the last day of school I had them all in my room and we were watching the Smartboard.  At Kiva we started to choose the recipients for our donations.  The kids really were interested in the small write ups about each recipient.  We would read a possible recipient and the class would erupt in cheers of yes fun him or her.  It started to become contageous.  By the time it ended we had funded 12 micro loans.  Each being $25.  Here are some profiles from Kiva of people we helped.
Alex is from the village of Rizal West San Isidro. He is 46 years old. Alex is single. To make a living, Alex owns and operates a business venture in the agriculture sector raising livestock. While not the only means for generating revenue, the main source of income for the business comes primarily from raising chicken for sale. Alex has been engaged in his business for more than two years and earns approximately 2,000 PHP a month for these activities.

Dominique owns a business that sells soft drinks. She is 40 years old, married and has five children who are between four months and eighteen years old. Her husband is a driver.
Dominique has been selling soft drinks for sixteen years. Her loan will be used to buy more milk, bread, mineral water, and juice to sell.

She hopes to use the new profits from her business to buy living room furniture. She dreams to have a supermarket in the future.   

Gungaabuu Ulziibat, 35 years old, lives with his wife and four children in the Bayanhongor province of Mongolia. The family lives together in a ger, a traditional Mongolian nomadic tent, in his brother's enclosure. All of his four children attend a local school and his wife is currently unemployed. Gungaabuu supports his entire family by operating a taxi service in his town. At first, he started a coal and firewood sales business in 2006 and stopped in 2009 due to bad sales. Since May 2010, he has been managing a taxi service after purchasing a car. For the future, he hopes to buy his own enclosure and grocery shop. He is requesting a 300,000 MNT loan in order to purchase necessary tools and parts, such as 4 tires, for his car.  

Kiva is a site where you can donate and create microloans for people in around the world.  Once you invest in Kiva and your loan is paid back you get to reinvest the origional donation with other groups and individuals. Here is more information about what Kiva does.

Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva was born of the following beliefs:
  • People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.
  • The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.
  • By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.

Kiva promotes:
  • Dignity: Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect.
  • Accountability: Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.
  • Transparency: The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.

As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

When we do 25 cents a Day next year I will show the faces of the people we could be helping and share their simple stories.  Stories of people wanting a loan so that they can make their  lives better. We will use last years money to start the program off.  This will show the faces of the people we have helped and encourage the donations to start coming in.

To take this project school wide I plan to include the Grade 7 team.  They study Developing Countries.  They will choose a country and go to Kiva to find a possible recipient of their fundraising.  The site and profile of the recipient will give great background information about the country and of the people who live there.

 So as I presented to a crowd of educators I mentioned the following stats....

500 of us in this room teaching approximately 15 000 students.  If each one of them brought in $5 over the campaign we would have raised $75 000 dollars.  If half of that goes to local charities and the other half goes to Kiva $37 500 becomes 1 500 micro-loans of $25.  Pretty powerful math.

Now I challenge the online community. There are just as many of your reading this post and what could you and your students do? Kiva is a fantastic chance to take student philanthropy to the next level.  Through the use of Social Media we now have the ability to help people with a click of a mouse.  Using microloans allows kids to take control. $25 makes a difference,  Contact me and we can create a movement that will change peoples lives.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Teaching Citizenship Part 2 Pay It Forward

Part 1 Pay it Forward (what can you do to make someones life better, Random act of Kindness)
How important is a single act of kindness? For most teens it can be the first step to becoming a better citizen.  How can we teach this and why should we bother?
Inspired by a teacher.... this is important.  We need to be real not just standing on a stage.  Powerful actions come from leaders who inspire.  The events of kindness will start small but once one kid realizes what can happen they all start to join in.
How many of you have seen the movie?
Read the book?
Pay it forward was a 2000 Movie starring
  • Helen Hunt
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Haley Joel Osment

The story was about a young teen boy who takes a Social Studies assignment to Heart.  His teacher Mr. St. Clair put this up on the Board THINK OF AN IDEA FOR WORLD CHANGE, AND PUT IT INTO ACTION.
When confronted by Trevor’s mother in the movie he describes the project this way...
"First of all, it's a voluntary assignment. For extra credit. If a student finds the idea overwhelming, he or she need not participate. Second of all, what I want is for the students to re-examine their role in the world, and think of ways one person can make a difference. It's a very healthy exercise."

Trevor’s idea was as follows
"You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how
they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It Forward...to three more people. Each. So, nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven." He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. "Then it sort of spreads out, see, to eighty-one, then two hundred forty-three, then seven hundred twenty-nine, then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?" 
This is how I start to imprint citizenship on my Grade 8 Students.  In November before the winter holiday season we as a group (140) students sit and watch Pay It Forward.  In the 3 years that we have been doing this at Sargent Park the movie still pulls at my heart.  Students watch the movie, brainstorm ideas that can be their random acts of kindness.

140 x 1 is 140 acts of kindness if people kept on doing or thinking about these acts over a period of time they would be sustained.  (Not exponentially like in the movie but increased non the less)  Students have 2 weeks to complete their act of kindness.  They are expected to write about it at their blogs and to document their act somehow;
    • picture
    • movie
    • note
     Every set of students provides a different set of solutions to this assignment.  The first year we did this was the year of the snow storm over the Winter break.  1 out of 3 students decided that shoveling the snow was their act of kindness, not someone else’s walk or driveway but their own.  Disappointing yes but still a first step.  In the next years students chose to do more interesting acts of kindness.  They searched out opportunities to do work in the community to make lives better.  Students chose to

    In the two years that have followed less students have done the babysitting/chore tasks and looked for larger ones. Every year it continues to get better.  this year we had one group of girls go and sing carols at a local supermarket.  It was amazing.  The girls caroling raised $210 in 90 minutes
      The girls did an amazing job.  When we took them to Siloam they were welcomed and admired by the adults who run the shelter.  The girls were gracious and enjoyed their trip.  Yet on the car ride home the conversation they were having demonstrated to me that they still "did not get it".  The larger picture of poverty and why we were doing this assignment had not yet sunk in.  They are amazing kids, and are on the road to being a better citizen but still have a distance to go.

      During this assignment I was interviewd on the radio.  The local public broadcaster CBC was having a Pay It Forward Day.  They asked me questions about the project and why we do it.  Here is the interview.  

      Some things I remember from the interview are being asked do other teachers do this? I answered... I am not sure? I do know this our parents are proud of their children doing these acts of kindness.  Lets just imagine some numbers.  In my school division there are:
        • 2307 grade 7 students in the Winnipeg School Division
        • 2295 grade 8 students in Winnipeg School Division (Sargent Park is only 6%)
        • 4602 both in the Winnipeg School Division
        • 2535 grade 9 in the Winnipeg School Division
      That is approximately 7000 for 3 grades in one division.  If one out of every 10 students or 10% were to do a “Pay it forward” act of kindness that would be 700 students for one division alone.  If you factor in the Province there are 180 000 students. If 1% did this project that would be 1800 students doing Random Acts of Kindness!.  
      In the audience at the conference where I gave this keynote there were 500 teachers  and each with at least 30 students each. That is 15000 students... imagine if .....you get the picture.

      If we could plan to do Pay it forward in December 2011 that would really bring to light the notion of Citizenship and the potential of you to the public eye. If you are interested in doing this next year email me and I will start a wiki where we can collect all the stories of kids making a difference in their communities.  If you want more information about Pay It Forward you can go to these two websites.

      Pay it forward Movement http://www.payitforwardmovement.org/ 
      Pay it forward foundation http://www.payitforwardfoundation.org/

      This is a great project for teachers to promote the goodness of teens.  Teens can be helpful, fantastic and amazing.  These are the stories we need to get out not the ones the news shows often of teens violence and apathy.

      This is the first step. The students get into the “Mood” by doing this act of Kindness.  This is the first responsibility that brings about better citizenship.  Doing good things just BECAUSE.  Not for money or attention just because it is right to help others who need help.  This activity  bridges nicely into the second project.... 25 cents a day.

      Teaching Citizenship Part 1 The WHY....

      This is an attempt to recreate my keynote from Byte 2011.  I really want to get across why it is important to teach citizenship or to model being a good citizen.  It is in all of our best interests.

      I am not going to lie to you.  I am a lucky person.  I love my job, I love my students and I do not have any problem going to work every day.  I teach in a rather large Nursery to Grade 9 school in the west end of Winnipeg.  Sargent Park School has a population of about 1000 students of which the 140 grade 8 students are all mine.  The majority of them are kind courteous and kids you would bring home to meet your family. 

      So why am I so concerned about teaching Citizenship to students.  Think about the news lately.  What is the dominating theme in popular media...

      Facebook is bad. Bad Bad Bad? Yet..

      Yet around the world things are happening because of Social Media... but it is bad please remember that!!
      Youtube gets cute kids noticed.

      Kids should not be on the computer just learning reading writing and writhmatic.

      If you were to ask my parents who live across from Ecole Robert H Smith (a large elementary school and popular teen late night hangout)  they might describe teens this way:

      1. “Hanging out late in public places”, 7/11, play structures
      2. lazy just give me the answer please
      3. naive fragile unique
      4. Not go getter's “do I have too?”

      Not the most flattering light to see the next generation of leaders in is it?

      On the other hand

      Teachers see:
      1. Self-absorbed; indulged; multi-tasking
      2. decent, grounded and optimistic
      3. entitled, distracted, perplexed
      4. impulsive, impatient,  collaborative.
      5. hopeful, restless, connected
      6. connected, curious, social
      Let's Define Citizenship.

      "Active citizenship" is the philosophy that citizens should work towards the betterment of their community through economic participation, public , volunteer work, and other such efforts to improve life for all citizens.
      Citizenship was equated by Virginia Leary (1999) as connoting "a bundle of rights

      But lets look at this another way.  Perhaps citizenship is not a bundle of rights but a bundle of responsibilities. Kids especially teens do not just wake up and understand these bundles of responsibilities.  They have a hard enough time waking up!!

      cc licensed flickr photo shared by Ollie Crafoord

      I think that the vast majority of teens are trying to find themselves. They need a push them to go in positive directions.  A favorite analogy of mine is that teens are clay creatures that have been molded into who they are by their previous experiences but the clay is not cured yet.  We still have time to mold some important imprinting into these creatures before it is set.

      Teens have a hard time seeing past their out-stretched hand.  Their world view is only as far as their hand can reach to the next french fry or meal.  (Imagine Linda Carter and Wonder Woman). 

       These students will be adults soon and need to be shown how they can become better citizens, to do their part in making life better for others.

      As educators we all need young adults to wrestle with these ideas or responsibilities before they take their rightful place as leaders in our communities and our world.

      I think you can create better citizens by empowering students to become better people.  At Sargent Park we do three projects a year in Grade 8:
      • Part 1 Pay it Forward (Individual Random act of Kindness)
      • Part 2 25¢ a day (the power of the click. In just one click you can help people from all over the world.  Now local is global)
      • Part 3 2 Minutes to Make a Difference (Student initiated go out and make a difference video)

      When do we have time to do all of this.... Creative time-tabling and homework kids WANT  to do:) Believe it or not there are lots of curricular connections to all of these projects.  I will point them out to you during this brief talk.