I just reread my posts from a year ago and have goosebumps. It is absolutely beyond my wildest expectation what has taken place in the past year. To sum it up... magnificent success!! My students formed relationships with children in places around the world. They became experts at manipulating the earth on their ipods and they now speak easily of far away places. Families were able to watch our work throughout the year. I formed friendships and learned from people I had never met. Enough? Probably... All? Not even close...
One of my first graders had to travel to Boston Children's Hospital for open heart surgery this year. We discovered that she would be less than an hour from our friends in New Hampshire. We used a KMZ file on Google Earth to follow the path of the ducks in Make Way for Ducklings in Boston so she would recognize names and landmarks while she was there. She spotted the Charles River as she flew into Boston before surgery. After her surgery we skyped with her so she could sit in on our class and reading group. Technology made a little girl's scary experience so much easier.
My friend in Beirut, Rawya, and I entered the Epals Ambassador contest and won! Amazing! Most amazing was our collaboration from a distance to complete the application and video at the last minute to enter.
That was so much fun, Rawya suggested we enter another contest to attend the 2010 Microsoft US Innovative Education Forum. We had only two days, so once again, we worked on the application from our own sides of the planet. It was posted and we waited. No word. Finally a call came that there was interest in our application but a few questions. The worst news was that even if we were selected, Rawya would be unable to attend because it was so expensive to fly her from Lebanon. Oh, well. Again there was no word until one week before the forum. I received a call that we had been selected, but had not been contacted. Was I still interested? Of course, but there was a new twist. I let the people from Microsoft know that just by coincidence, Rawya happened to be in Los Angeles visiting her brother. They agreed to fly her to Washington, DC to attend the forum! The rest is like a dream. We met at the airport and spent three wonderful days together in DC. If that was not enough, we won the contest and are now headed to Cape Town, South Africa, in October to represent the United States at the World-wide Innovative Education Forum!
My life is filled with wonder and awe at the power of technology in our lives. If all that were not enough, the most amazing thing happened this morning. In my second posting to this blog I mentioned a teacher in Australia that I had lost touch with years ago. Here come the goosebumps again. This morning I had a message waiting on epals. The very same teacher had just located me there and was wondering if I remembered her. She is back to teaching first grade and wants to pal for the coming school year... It doesn't get much better than all of this!