Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Global Education/Flat Classroom: Discussion with Dr. Leigh Zeitz and Students from UNI

Last night I had the awesome opportunity to jump online and chat for a little bit with Dr. Z who is a professor at UNI

You can check out his very insightful blog here -

I was contacted by Dr. Z last week to speak to his students about teaching and preparing students for a global project. Currently, his college students are the judges for the Flat Classroom Eracism project. This project is an international debate project for all grade levels. It is a very intense, high level thinking project that requires students to use a variety of tools and thinking skills to prepare to debate students from all over the world. I won't go into all the details of the project, but it is one that you should check out. Here is a link to the project page where you can find all information, rules, recordings, etc. -

Last night I jumped online and met up with Dr. Z to talk about what it takes to get involved, stay involved, and succeed in online learning project.

You can see the recording at

A couple things that I wanted to elaborate on from the discussion is that when you do any project that incorporates other countries and classrooms you have to have persistence and patience. Never think things will go perfect. You have to be flexible and be willing to adapt. I think this is essential to making projects like this work. It also is a great example and teaching moment for your students. For me, I have several students who are perfectionists. It is good for them to see me, the teacher, working and adapting, making decisions, thinking on the fly, and keep an open and honest dialogue with all of them. It is good for them to see that as a teacher I don't have all the answers and sometimes I am wrong. These projects keep me on my toes as a professional and allow me to incorporate teaching life skills as they occur.

A few things that I did not get a chance to talk about in the meeting last night that I think are very important are the following:

1. Real world audience - I touched a little bit about how my students quit asking about their grades. By giving them a real, breathing, living audience the students worked very hard to show others that they could compete, think, and articulate their thoughts. The grade was not nearly as important as not coming across ignorant in these debates and recordings. This is so important in teaching. For about 6 weeks these students came to class ready to engage in material and content for themselves and their learning and not to just get it done for a grade. This is how education should be.

2. My students. They are awesome! My students that I worked with are amazing and really pulled together as a team and assembled great information, scripts, and delivery of content. I cannot take credit for anything they did. I was merely an organizer and devil's advocate. I did not stress this enough, but my students rocked this project and I want to make sure I give them credit!

3.Confidence - For the first time my students were nervous. They are so used to being on the top here in our school, but going global put them in check and gave them a new perspective. They had to learn the hard way that the real world does not just care if you have the facts and figures, but you have to be able to deliver the goods. Speaking with confidence, persuasion, and proper tone to sell your idea is just as important as having facts. This is a life skill and we talked about how this is key to job interviews or pitching a new idea. You have to sell and market your ideas.

4. Student Frustrations - I think this is just as important. This generation lives in the NOW! world where they expect results instantly. They found it increasingly frustrating when teams did not deliver as promised, dropped out, or deadlines were not met. We had several conversations about making sure that if these things bother you to make sure you don't drop the ball on others. Also, working on patience and taking time to understand where others are coming from. We cannot go right to angry mode until we get all the details.

I am ever thankful to Dr. Z for giving me a chance to talk about the project. It has given me time to pause and reflect as well. I leave you with some key links to others things to explore and digest. Please contact me if you have further questions or would like to chat about global education.

Resources to Explore

1. - my wiki page where I have links to resources and my presentations about going global in the classroom

2. - a projected I created with a few other teachers that will be starting in January. If you are looking for a cool project, then this might be for you. We wrap up registration soon!

3. Flat Classroom Network -

4. Books worth reading

World Is Flat - Thomas Friedman - see notes

World Class Learners - Yong Zhao - My review - This book is an eye opener!

Flattening Classrooms - everything you need to get organize online for global education
My video review of this book!

Last check out all my projects and online connections -

Let me know how I can help and help myself in the process

Thanks again Dr. Z

1 comment:

Leigh said...

It was great to hear from you, Aaron. Keep up the great work. You are making a difference in children's lives.