Posted by: edevolution | May 25, 2011

All Things Are Possible

It’s been three eventful weeks since the day we released that video. The EdEvolution class has learned quite a bit about the impact their work can have since then. From some ill-fated adventures on Reddit, to an eye-opening positive meeting with our local district superintendent, the reception their video has garnered was quite varied.

I think that when the video originally came out and the initial push to make it known by the students trickled off without apparently “catching” beyond their local community, disappointment was the general feeling. Being the digital generation, we viewed that Youtube hit counter as a marker of our success. When it started tapering off before we even crossed the 2,000 line, I think we were frustrated.

Then the superintendent showed up to talk with the class about it, and his visibly emotional reaction noticeably surprised the class. I thought it was a fascinating lesson in itself – that even in the digital age, sometimes the impact of what one does cannot be measured digitally. Here was clear, irrefutable evidence that someone of genuine clout in education had been considerably affected by their work. The class, in some ways, had to that point failed to realize the considerable message they had delivered:

“You who educate us, who have devoted your life to that cause, through no ill intent, have served us poorly.”

That’s a tough thing to hear, and to see it articulated so clearly and creatively affected even me, watching it come together. Although – and they stress this point – they don’t feel teachers are to blame, ultimately, the buck stops with the teachers and administrators.

It’s a tough pill to swallow.

For the most part, though, we were inclined to consider the attention-gaining phase to have been largely only a local success, and learn what we could from the results. Experiment concluded, partial success, and so we move on.

Then, 48 hours ago, something happened. We’re still not quite sure how, but it has.  Mindshift picked up the students’ message, and this blog, and the attached forums. Suddenly, in the last 48 hours, the message is getting as much attention as it did in the week it launched. Suddenly, the quest to spread the word is back on. Suddenly, the possibility of one little message triggering one great big cause lives anew.

Suddenly, once again, all things are possible.

Posted by: edevolution | May 4, 2011

A Good Teacher Learns

    Well, here we are on Release Day. The video’s done, the social networking is set up and ready to go. All that remains to do is actually press a bunch of publish buttons. I don’t know if my students are nervous, but I have to admit I’m nervous for them. When I think about all the work they’ve put in, the effort, creativity, excitement and energy, I very much want to see this succeed. They’ve created and collaborated, negotiated and delegated, overcome and struggled through. I’ve seen kids show more dedication in the past three months than I’ve seen in ten years of education.
I’ve learned a lot about teaching in the last three months. These students really are right. Educational needs aren’t the same as when I was in middle school twenty years ago. The modern educator is a facilitator, an organizer, and a guide – the modern educator is NOT a teacher. We are no longer (or should no longer be) in the business of giving information. The information is out there, easily grasped. It’s our job to present it to the students in a way that makes them want to learn themselves. That’s basically what this video – and this whole project – is about. We’re still using exactly the same methodologies – with, in some cases, niftier tools – that we used twenty (one hundred!) years ago. Lecture and listen. Drill and kill. Review and test, always test, again and again. Repeat with next unit. That was onerous and tired twenty years ago when I was a student. Why are we still using it now?

A good teacher learns. These kids have taught me.

Now let’s see if they can teach the world.

-J. Fletcher

Posted by: edevolution | May 3, 2011

May 3

The project is almost done and the feeling of accomplishment lingers in the classroom. We have high hopes that our video will really take off and we can finally spread our message to the world. Our new banner and icon were just finished today al0ng with the video editing. Everything we’ve done is coming together and all we can do is wait for the feedback!

Posted by: edevolution | April 11, 2011

April 11

This project appealed to me.  I could move ahead in school, at my own pace, instead of relearning subjects over and over again.  I believe that I could be years ahead in my studies if I was in this system.  My education is an event that could have had a much better outcome in a shorter time, and I want to make sure that others like me can look back at their time in school, and think “I didn’t waste a second of my life there.”


Posted by: edevolution | April 6, 2011

April 6

Today, we got the bad news that our camera would most likely not arrive until after we were out of school. Although we already got the first shots, those are not usable because their quality is not up to the standards of the internet. Unless something is done, our project will have to be cancelled. All the work we did to plan and come up with the video will have been for nothing. I really hope we can find a solution to this problem soon. Even if we do get a camera before the year is over, we would still need to film and edit, which could take a considerable amount of time.


Posted by: edevolution | April 4, 2011

April 4

I’m equally as excited as everybody. I feel like kids today can finally make a difference. I think this project is going to change the world. This is definitely my ideal education.


Posted by: edevolution | March 30, 2011

March 30

This project is alot more work than any of us thought it would be. We have planned all our websites and what each different section of the video is going to be about. At times it seems like have bitten off more than we can chew, but we started this and we must see it through to its end, whether it goes viral as hoped, or is a complete and total flop.


Posted by: edevolution | March 28, 2011

March 28

As of right now we are waiting for a new camera to arrive. Once we get it, we will start shooting every scene again. The camera is the only thing holding us back now, since we already made a schedule of what we are going to do once we get it.

This project is the coolest thing I have done in school. If we suceed in what we are trying to do, schools all over the United States could change for the better. This project taught me that you do not have to be old to make a change.This is more than just a school project.


Posted by: edevolution | March 21, 2011

March 21

Our project is really beginning to come along every day. Even in our mini-groups you can see so much progression… I just hope that teachers even around the world get to see our new classroom. It’s necessary for adults to listen to what the kids want, even if it’s in some way “unreasonable”, because real change doesn’t take much. Even if it isn’t the exact way our class wants it, there needs to be a change. People might not consider what we really want because we’re just kids, but it’s really us that controls the education system. If we want to learn, we will. If we don’t want to, we don’t have to. It’s easy as that. It really gives students the power to learn the easiest way possible and get a good education. School could be so much more comfortable and enjoyable.

The only thing most of us were worried about is people seeing what we have to say, but our confidence in this project grows every day we work on it. If this gets big, who knows what school will be like in the future?


Posted by: edevolution | March 11, 2011

March 11

We began filming for the “Structure of the Class” portion of our video. This was where we showed how the modern classroom should look, but doesn’t. Its purpose was to show what the old classroom structure was lacking and how to fix that problem in the most efficient way possible. The group’s job was to make a model of how they thought the new classroom should look, but it wasn’t just making it look cheerful. Each new feature needed to have a purpose and reason for being in the new classroom.

To have the ideas shown in this video actually used in other classrooms would be incredible and would show that the hard work put into each section finally paid off. Each group has used unique ideas that stem from their own experiences- something that can only be done through actually being part of the system.


Posted by: edevolution | March 9, 2011

March 9

Today we set up two different classrooms, using older versions of student desks and chairs. Our construction of the different rooms showed a large contrast of what was classified as acceptable for learning area of different time periods. The message we are trying to send has slowly taken on a new meaning than our original intent and the varying classrooms seem to show a metaphor from then and now. We were aiming for something entirely different that eventually turned into something even better than before. Even students in middle school are beginning to see the problem of education and what needs to be improved. We’re children yet we are already trying to improve the conditions we have dealt with for centuries. Our technology is outdated, classroom structure is forming different atmospheres, and students may think far more ahead than the grade they’re in. This project has become something personal for us and this is our big chance to bring full awareness to these problems and solutions to fix them. Things can be changed and it’s time everyone stop talking about it and actually do something.


Posted by: edevolution | March 7, 2011

March 7

This project we are doing is amazing.  In school it’s difficult to get together and do such a huge project, so this is really the first time that any of us in this class have ever done something like this.  Through this project we are learning how to overcome problems and to work together.  In the real world you don’t always get along with everyone, so in this project we do have disagreements, but we learn how to get over them and solve the problem faster.  All of us hope that our message will be delivered clearly and the world will do something about today’s problems with the education system.
Posted by: edevolution | March 4, 2011

March 4

This is probably the first school project I have ever done that has actually had an effect outside of the classroom. I am very excited about being able to broadcast a message to the world, especially about something that I really care about and affects me every day. We as kids in middle school are showing that we know what the problem is and have a reasonable solution. I think that will get people’s attention. Quite honestly, I’m tired of being disregarded because of my age whenever I try to make a point or propose a solution to a problem. Being young does not mean that we are oblivious to the world around us. We are in the problem, we are the experts on this issue, more so than someone with a PhD in education. The adults endlessly debating how to fix education are not listening to those that experience the issue daily.This is our chance to tell them what we think. I believe that if we can accomplish everything we planned to do, our message will be noticed.
Posted by: edevolution | March 2, 2011

March 2

It’s official on our new message. We are going to be preaching and persuading about the downfalls of the education system and how to (potentially) fix it. Our main concern is based on whether or not we should continue with some of the “non verbal” messages or other methods that we believe could potentially work. My group – conclusion – is doing very well and feels that our part of the message could have a big impact. I feel that we are making a land mark on middle school accomplishments and could potentially make history. Of course these changes would not come into effect untill I am out of college and maybe even after that. But we believe that this is the first spark to the fire that is about to ignite.


Posted by: edevolution | February 28, 2011

February 28

We recently finished presenting our story boards. I’m really excited after seeing what each group has thought up, but I’m worried that we might not be able to pull it off. Let’s see how it goes from here!


Posted by: edevolution | February 25, 2011

February 25

Today we have presented our revised moving storyboards. The project is really coming along and we are finalizing our ideas. This video could really change the education system and help kids who are struggling under the current system. Education needs a change and the students know what needs to be changed.


Posted by: edevolution | February 23, 2011

February 23

The plans for the video are starting to become clear. I’m finally beginning to understand all the topics/sections of this group and how they are interconnected with one another. Each group is finalizing how they present their ideas and making sure that it’s unique and abstract, but still easily understood as to what it has to do with the section/topic.

We honestly don’t know what will happen to this video after being posted or if anything will happen at all. What we do know is that we do need change in our education, and that’s what this is all about.


Posted by: edevolution | February 16, 2011

February 16

I am really excited for this project to get rolling. When our teacher Mr. Fletcher first said the idea, I was a little skeptical about being able to make it work, but seeing how hard the rest of the class is working, I think this video is going to turn out really well. We divided up the class so that each group had a different topic to focus on in the video. We had to make a script/screenplay and choose music to go along with our clip. I am confident that this project will go viral!


Posted by: edevolution | February 14, 2011

February 14

Today we split the workload into multiple sections.  The video has six different components and there are about 5 people handling each component.  After we got things settled, we broke into our small groups to talk about how we could portray the section we were given.  We got a lot of great ideas down on paper and before we knew it, it was time to go. 

This project is really a fantastic idea.  It gives us, as students, a chance to voice our opinion.  The adults trying to fix education don’t always ask what we think, but our opinion is just as important as all the rest.  Afterall, are we not the ones experiencing the problems of education today? We are the ones who understand the problem, but we are not being asked our opinion.  Since they don’t want to come to us, we are going to them!


Posted by: edevolution | February 11, 2011

February 11

I’m really excited about this project! All the things we’ve been able to accomplish in the last month or so is amazing! Today, we continued to brainstorm our ideas for the video. Everything we have come up with so far for each section or portion of the video is very creative and I can’t believe how much we have gotten done, especially for the age we are. This video is going to be really great and I can’t wait for when we start filming.


Posted by: edevolution | February 9, 2011

February 9

Now that we have determined what our message is going to be about, we have been figuring out answers to more specific questions. Those include, “How long should it be?” “Narration. Yes or no?” “How should we present this information?” “Soundtrack?”

After we have determined what we should do in response to these questions, storyboard writing and filming should begin within the next few weeks.

Such a project has not been successfully created by a group of middle school kids before. If we actually succeed in making this video a very popular one, then we have accomplished an incredible feat. It is very interesting to be doing something more like producing a video with a topic we care about over writing and answering questions.


Posted by: edevolution | February 7, 2011

February 7

Today, we continued to split up into our groups and discussed our ideas for the portions of the video we were given. The video has come a long way in just a few short weeks and I believe it will make a big impact into the view of education.

I think that this project is the most interesting and interactive project I have ever had. It has allowed the class to learn skills to reach beyond what we would learn on an average curriculum day. I, among many other students, do not appreciate being discriminated because of our age. Many child minds exceed the norm, and therefore strive for knowledge on their own. I believe that this project itself will show the nation and the world that if education is changed, then this prejudice will stop and the world will begin to take on a new form. 


Posted by: edevolution | February 4, 2011

February 4

Today, we broke up into our small groups and discussed what we wanted to do with our portion of the video. We made storyboards depicting what we would do with each second. We used powerpoint and paper to draw out what we wanted to do. Each group has a very different approach that I think will benefit our video.

This project is starting to take shape more and more each day. Hopefully, our opinions and efforts will be taken into account by the education system.


Posted by: edevolution | February 2, 2011

February 2

The class has been collecting data on how to spread the message, but the big question as to what the message is hasn’t been answered…until recently. We need a new school system, one that mixes collaboration with achievement, excellence with technology, and we’ve now set off to get one.

At first, I think many of us had doubts that this would work. I mean, would adults even listen to a group of middle schoolers? As time has passed, though, all of us have gradually begun to believe that this will work; we’ve begun to care about the message, not how widespread it might get. We’re slowly on our way to filming, and the excitement is growing in all of us.


Posted by: edevolution | January 31, 2011

January 31

Currently, we have continued to brainstorm different ideas we could use for the still unchosen topic, but even without a topic yet, we have begun to plan out some ideas that we might like to use in our video, whatever it may be about. We’ve also been doing more research on how to make our eventual video go viral in the end.

This project has got to be the coolest project in the world. Just the idea that we, one small class of middle schoolers, can possibly send out a message to the entire world is absolutely incredible. We have a chance to actually make a change in society. Although the project has just begun, day after day the project seems to get more impressive. We’ve still got a long way to go to make it work, but everyday we’re getting closer.


Posted by: edevolution | January 29, 2011

January 29

This project seems like an incredibly cool idea. I never would have thought of middle schoolers trying to send a message to adults just because I’m used to the idea of adults who don’t know me personally not taking the time to listen. Most people don’t think middle schoolers are capable of such an achievement and by doing this we can show that kids aren’t worthless and we do know what we are talking about.

While we’ve decided what our focus is going to be, we have only begun assembling websites that would be helpful when we decide to spread our message.


Posted by: edevolution | January 27, 2011

January 27

The crazy thing about this project is that it’s not something our teacher printed off the internet and passed out to us. It’s not your average assignment, which makes sense, because we are not your average students.

I think everyone’s excited to spread a message of change. As a class, we decided yesterday that education is the most relevant and prominent thing for us to want reform in, and I’m more excited for this that any other project I’ve done. Hopefully the final video will turn out the way we envision it.


Posted by: edevolution | January 25, 2011

Lighting the fuse

As a teacher, I’ve always believed my job is to pose questions, not answer them. Fittingly, this whole project began because of a question. The class was reading Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” and the students were wrestling with a seemingly simple question:
Could children, using the internet, have a dramatic impact on the world around them? Could they influence public opinion, and make a mark on their world?
Perhaps I should’ve seen what was coming, but it still caught me off-guard. Their question to me was simple enough, though:
“Can we try it?”
It did seem the simplest way to settle the question, and so began the greatest experimental education project I’ve ever had the privilege of leading. The scope of our project was mind-boggling. First, figure out the most pervasive internet message-spreading tools. Then, determine the best way to harness them to our advantage. Next, craft our message such that it will spread as best as it possibly can, and finally, prepare all the supporting tools, media, and gear required for such a huge endeavor. I never imagined the variety of tasks that would be required:
– Negotiating with principals for space/allowances
– Negotiating with the district for extra desks and props
– Contacting websites, publishers, recording industries
– Researching all kinds of legalities about Fair Use
You name it, we probably did it. Here’s the best part, though: We had to get the entire thing done and released in four months, using no more than two hours a day, five days a week.
What follows is the account of that adventure – the highs and lows, good moments and bad, through the eyes of the incredible students who made this project happen. If I am to be credited for this, let it only be as the organizer or the conductor of the symphony. The students were the talented musicians who crafted this masterpiece.