Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why am I crying?

Earlier this week, a Pennsylvania Instructional Technology Coach shared her district's video for the GMA contest – lip syncing to Katy Perry’s song ROAR. Since then, I’ve seen these videos popping up – usually with a “vote for us” request. Today, I saw one for our local high school – asking everyone on Facebook to vote for the school’s video. That’s not why I’m crying.

One radio station in PA is listing local participants' videos on their webiste. At least 4 of them came from Classrooms for the Future (CFF) districts. (A CFF Coach was in one of them!!!) Some of them are just plain old fun. Some share poignant messages – like Roxborough’s from Philadelphia. All of them show regular kids doing amazing things. I’ve seen academic clubs, marching bands, football players, cheerleaders, lacrosse teams, drama students, special needs students, and more. I’ve seen administrators and teachers.

All of them represent great production quality – some of it stellar.

So, why am I crying? Many of these kids were doing this on CFF equipment, an initiative that is no longer funded in Pennsylvania. If not on CFF equipment, it was done in a district that started with CFF and saw the need to continue the investment. Our coaches were involved in many of those videos. The kids had to use the skills that they are learning in OUR schools. Beyond the technical aspect, they had to coordinate huge undertakings. They had to decide what to keep and what to leave behind. They had to use critical thinking skills. They had to determine how to effectively communicate their message. My guess is that there was a lot of story-boarding going on.

In most cases, it wasn’t done for a grade. It was done for a contest. It was done for fun – that’s it. They did it because they wanted to. They were motivated. They were excited. They probably didn’t even complain about the number of hours it took. They had to have administrator support. Kids from every niche within the school had to cooperate and collaborate. It is so cool.

Yes, using technology in school can engage students, increase the use of critical thinking skills, and encourage reading, writing, speaking, and listening. I wonder what a test would have told us about what they learned through this process.

In a nutshell, all of the above is why I’m crying.

Here's a set of videos from the Philadelphia area:

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