Category: Triggering Teachable Moments


Teachers should have the same expectations for their students that they have for their own children.

-Geoffrey Canada, Founder and CEO of The Harlem Children’s Zone

The executive team and families of the Coalition for International Initiatives (CII) enjoyed an inspirational evening with educational reformer Mr. Geoffrey Canada. The event began with a memorable face-to-face with Mr. Canada where he listened to our vision for global collaboration between schools in India and the United States. His interest and true passion for education was revealed when he focused on how our goals are going to benefit children. Even in this informal social scenario, Mr. Canada was searching for an answer to the “true” educator’s core question, “What is best for kids?” The keynote presentation was passionate and transcended the early technical difficulties with the microphone. Through it all a message of hope and faith in the education for all children, despite their current life situation, was felt in the hearts and minds of all who attended. At the conclusion of the evening, Mr. Canada left the audience with two challenges to improve education in America: unshakable optimism and constant innovation. We at CII believe we can accept Mr. Canada’s challenge because of our belief that all children can learn when given the opportunity and the community support to find academic and social success. That is why we are building an interactive online classroom community  that will allow children in the US and India to collaborate on Problem-based Learning (PbL) projects in all subject areas including an interactive science laboratory, Exploriments. When children are given the freedom and support to explore their own world to make meaning and solve problems, true educational gains can made in schools at every level.

Photo Credit: C. McGough

Gregory M. McGough, M.Ed.

CII Chief Academic Officer

What an exciting time to be in education, the eKWIP community is starting to build members daily on the website. Do not forget to check the My Messages tab and Community Forums daily to see if your international co-teacher has contacted you. Your classroom has just been opened to the world. As people are getting started, we would like to direct your attention to the Teachable Moments tab on the homepage of the eKWIP web portal. Click the pull-down menu and select Introductions Teachable Moment. This small lesson will help you to start your journey.

The T2M (Triggering Teachable Moments) instructional/assessment design model was developed to be flexible enough to insert itself into any curriculum framework. Most academic units of instruction could include a T2M component that builds international collaboration.  We at CII are currently designing a community-wide project for hesitant participants to use to springboard into international collaboration.

As we build this 21st Century learning community we would like to reach out to you, our members, for suggestions and questions. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or message us on eKWIP. Good luck with this exciting academic endeavor!

Gregory M. McGough, M.Ed.

CII Chief Academic Officer

 

“CHANGE THAT EMANATES FROM TEACHERS LASTS UNTIL THEY FIND A BETTER WAY.”

Roland Barth- Improving Schools From Within

Welcome to the Coalition for International Initiatives’ series of short, informational screencasts that are designed to help promote international collaboration, communication, and creative problem-solving.

Please click the link below to view the first 4 min. introductory video:

http://www.screencast.com/users/GMcGough/folders/Jing/media/bcb5eca0-0e4a-4f78-bb0d-f19dd12cf810

At the conclusion of the viewing, please feel free to share comments or questions for the eKWIP community.

Gregory M. McGough, M.Ed.

CII Chief Academic Officer

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

~Martin Luther King, Jr. (Harvested from Quote Garden)

 

On a cold day in January, American school children are given an extra-day to rest and reflect on the messages and actions of  Martin Luther King Jr. As citizens of a digital age,  modern society tends to view international collaboration as the fruits of the present age of technological development, but positive ideas for change have always transcended international boundaries and connected individual’s spirits and dreams. As the Coalition for International Initiatives (CII) attempts to establish an international collaboration between classrooms in India and the United States, we ask that you listen to a sharing of ideas that transcended both time & location to result in a changed world.

Video #1:

Video #2:

Video #3:

Gregory M. McGough, M.Ed.

CII Chief Academic Officer

“In 2010, trade between our countries [India & U.S.] is not just a one-way street of American Jobs and companies moving to India. It is dynamic, two-way relationship that is creating jobs, growth, and higher living standards in both our countries.”

– U.S. President Barack Obama on Tour in India

On Sunday (Nov. 6), CNN news reported a story detailing President Obama’s 2010 Asian tour and its political ramifications. This three-day Presidential tour marked the longest trip to a foreign country that President Obama has made since taking office. He announced on Saturday that American companies like Boeing and General Electric are going to benefit from an increased business relationship with India that will result in $10 billion in economic growth. While in India, the President and first lady visited the Mahatma Gandhi museum in Mumbai because of his fascination with the life of Gandhi. On the cultural side, the President and First Lady also took part in the celebration of Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights. This trip marked a renewed interest in building cultural and business alliances between the two countries and their leaders President Obama and Prime Minister Singh.

The proliferation of Internet technology has connected the four corners of the world allowing countries like the U.S. and India to collaborate and communicate in innovative and creative ways.  The type of international collaboration that President Obama is calling for with India relies upon the strength of the education systems in both countries to change their perspective  from a local to an international scope. No longer will schools be able to just develop a harmonious cultural landscape within their own brick and mortar walls. The development of Smart classrooms coupled with Web 2.0 technologies is driving innovation in instructional practices that will allow for collaboration of global classroom communities. The T2M(triggering teachable moments)  instructional design model housed on the eKWIP (educating Kids With International Possibilities) platform was developed to create the proper environment for cross cultural collaboration between Indian & U.S. schools. The eWKIP website was launched less than two weeks ago and is almost ready to manage student work uploaded from both sides of the world.

On Friday (Nov.5), I had the chance to take the eKWIP platfrom out for a test with my first triggering of a teachable moment. Traditional teachable moments usually occur organically as an aside to a preplanned lesson. A student questions a particular element of a lesson, and the teacher leaves the script to offer a clear explanation in order to satisfy the curiosity of the student. The power of the teachable moment rests in the motivation to understand a concept because of an innate curiosity in the mind of the learner. One of the problems with teachable moments is their relative unpredictability. The T2M model was designed on the premise that teachable moments can be triggered with the proper environmental conditions and teacher support.

This past Friday (Nov.5) I was planning on teaching a sample lesson using eKWIP with my high school seniors. I strategically started the day by asking them to respond on a notecard to the triggering question, “What is the significance of the holiday of Diwali?” It was their inability to answer this question that caused a desire to know. The students asked the purpose of the question, and I explained that Nov. 5 is Diwali in India. One student quickly raised his hand and asked why we would want to learn about a country that is stealing American jobs. I explained that Americans have much to learn when discussing future relationships with India.

After the triggering question and negative student response, the rest of the class was interested enough to vote unanimously to participate in my 20-25 minute teachable moment. My plans made use of what I believe to be the key elements of a teachable moment: one academic standard, triggering question(s), a sequence of instruction, international collaboration, and authentic assessment. We began by locating India using the the Google maps link on the eKWIP website. After establishing the correct geographic location, the students read a small passage, lit a traditional Diwali lamp, and ate authentic Indian candy: Besan Ladoo & Kaju Burfee. They were skeptical at first but most of them made an attempt with the sweets. The students also enjoyed the ancient Indian artform of the Rangoli and wanted to know more about how they were designed. A rangoli is a colorful sand art display that acts as a welcome decoration for homes during Diwali.  At the conclusion of the lesson, the students were asked to reflect on the teachable moment. Here are a few of the comments they wrote:

1. “What I liked the most is how they have a holiday that brings their families together.”

2. “I learned that Diwali is a national holiday in India. They celebrate for 5 days and light fireworks and give gifts. I like the candy too!”

3. “The festival of lights is a celebration of prayer for good health, peace, and wisdom. Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity visits Indian children on Diwali.”

4. “Diwali is a yearly celebration that combines many of the traditions of multiple American holidays.”

5. “Would it be possible to write some questions for you to post on the site for students in India to answer?”

 

One of the wonderful elements of T2M is the ability to stack moments together to develop a deeper understanding of complex issues. As part of a non-fiction reading assignment I am teaching on Monday (Nov. 8), I am going to have my students read the CNN article titled Obama in India for Start of Asian Tour . I will start by reminding my class about the comment one of them made about Indian citizens stealing our jobs. The students will draw on schema from Friday’s lesson and will be able to make connections to the article that would have eluded them before. It is as if the first moment sparked interest and understanding in the second moment. The President’s tour in Asia heralded a new era of equitable international partnerships between India and U.S., and schools in both countries should be preparing students to take part in this important endeavor. In developing broad international perspectives, schools can begin the process of multi-cultural learning one moment at a time.

Gregory M. McGough, M.Ed.

CII Chief Academic Officer

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. – M. Gandhi

 

 

One need not look too deeply into the media to see that the world is caught up in a struggle that seems to be impacting every nation on the planet. Whether it is armed conflict, economic collapse, or failing schools, superlatives label those who are deemed the best and subjugate those who fall short. As Thomas Friedman tells us in his seminal work The World in Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century, the world is growing closer as technology connects nations including small towns in the US with villages in India. His book has been taken by many a progressive educator to be a rallying cry for improving the “failing” education systems of the West in order to compete with the rising economic powers of the East, India & China.

Several years ago, I was attending an Innovations in Education Conference at Penn State University when I came across a book in the “free rack” in my hotel lobby. I traded a worn Stephen King novel for Thomas Friedman’s non-fiction book. A shared text from an anonymous reader, what a fantastic way to come across a book that would ultimately change the way that I perceive the world. The impact the book had on me is different than most readers. I don’t want to see the world in terms of winners and losers. Instead, I would like to see the world as a network of collaborative participants working to make the human experience on this planet a happy, healthy, and productive one.

In the United States, we have an obsession, based on tradition, with selecting those teams or individuals that rise to the top of their sport or competitive field. I don’t see education as an area of human endeavor that requires competition among participants. Instead, I view education as a shared experience where learners help each other to construct meaning in an otherwise abstract world. In this light, the United States is not competing with the educational systems in other nations of the world, but rather using technology and Friedman’s “flat world” theory to allow students to collaborate and transcend the artificial boundaries of the world’s nations. I heard a speaker say that looking down from space the boundaries between nations cease to exist. Boundaries between humans are created in the very minds of those we deem winners and are reinforced to allow these winners to stay on top and in power.

At the Coalition for International Initiatives (CII), we are attempting to make a positive impact by building a computer platform that will allow for collaboration between schools in India and the United States. Children will not be ranked or measured but will be allowed to explore their world and construct meaning that fits their individual realities and expands their learning beyond the classroom walls. It is our belief that if given the technological capacity to collaborate, students will connect and teach each other about their country and culture. As the program advances, we hope to focus these students on the task of solving some the world’s most pressing social problems and issues.

I am currently working on a “teachable moment, ” a small mini-lesson that builds with other lessons to help students solve a common problem, that will have inquisitive students in the US attempt to connect with Indian students to explore the holiday of Diwali. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I am a highly-educated teacher who until accepting my position with CII never heard of Diwali. As the largest national holiday in India, this tradition is important to the understanding of the complex social network that is modern India. Not sure what Diwali is all about–check out the following video from National Geographic on Youtube:

It is through collaboration and global communication that education can transcend the adult-created problems of the world and allow students to find solutions for their future. I welcome your comments to this blog post and would love to hear from our readers around the world. Collaborate with us in order to create the change we wish to see in the world.

PS. Happy Diwali to All of You Who Celebrate the Victory of the Light!

 

Gregory M. McGough, M.Ed.

CII Chief Academic Officer

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