More of This, Please

I read Eric Langhorst’s blog, I’ll confess, not for the great history links he sends out, but for ideas about how I would run my my own classroom.  In one of his latest posts/podcasts, Eric talks about how his class skyped in author Pat Hughes to talk about her work (and it magically fit right into what they were studying–imagine the serendipity!).  If you know how to use skype, you understand how simple and easy it is to use.  My mother uses it.  My kids can almost use it now.  It’s simple to pick up. After our impromptu conference with Shelly Blake-Plock last week, I began thinking about why we don’t bring others into our classrooms this way more often.  It’s not all that crazy to plan–anytime I have done one, it originated from an idea, that led to an email, that became a brainstorm for a date and time, and then some quick tech set-up.  Voila.  Instant access to smarter, more interesting people (choose your interviews wisely). The next level then becomes something like this once you’ve become more established: This was taken from Silvia Tolisano who uses htis with her students to help them engage more fully in the many conversations they have with people from around the world.  I’ve said this before in this space, and Sylvia characterizes it nicely here, but we need to be outsourcing more of what we do to our students.  By creating all of these opportunities for student learning out of one phone call (augmented with video, of course), Sylvia and others who do this sort of thing, have given students the opportunity to explore something more than just the history book or primary source documents.  The teachers who do this sort of thing are creating avenues for curiosity and exploration.  And that’s something we need to be doing more of.

Side note: if you get the chance, check out Silvia’s flickr visuals.  They are the bees knees.

Britannica Outsources to you!

This from the Britannica Blog yesterday:

For some time now Encyclopaedia Britannica has been at work transforming Britannica.com, our main product for consumers, into a place that will feature more
participation and collaboration both from our expert contributors and
the public. The aims of the new site will be to expand and improve the
coverage we provide both in the Encyclopaedia Britannica
itself and in other features on the site; and to provide our
contributors and users with an online community that’s valuable
and beneficial to them in a variety of ways.

Holy smokes!

That was my original reaction, but in looking at this a little bit closer, why should I be surprised?  Even the bastions of and hangers-on of the canon are beginning to see the value in the wealth of knowledge, experience, and joie de vivre of the populace.  Contributory learning and active reading, especially in the model that Britannica is offering here

Users whose editorial suggestions are accepted and published entirely or in part will be credited
by name in the section of each article that lists contributors. For
that reason, people who want to edit articles will be asked to
register, providing their first and last names, which will be used to
credit them, and an e-mail address where we can contact them with
questions and acceptance notices.

is valuable and that fact is being acknowledged by the media.  Why not our schools next?