Posted by Heather Chirtea at 02:00:52 PM Mon 05/24/2010
Digital Wish is extremely excited to be a partner in e-Vermont, the Community Broadband Project. Over the coming months we will be working with leaders from participating organizations and exploring fellow 1:1 computing initiatives across the nation. This grant will empower us to bring 1:1 computing to selected classrooms throughout Vermont as a means to strengthen local communities and the state’s economy.
Overall, e-Vermont’s statewide partners will help local groups develop ways to take full advantage of the Internet for job creation, school innovation, providing social services, and increasing civic involvement. Digital Wish will provide essential training so that students, teachers, and parents can use the internet more effectively. With sets of computers that travel from school to home, internet projects and community engagement will flourish. When 21st century tools and teaching practices become an integral part of every day, at school and at home, student engagement, motivation, and participation rise across the curriculum.
In addition, by structuring the implementation of the program on the success of Digital Wish’s pilot schools, we will further refine a replicable model for school technology adoption that can eventually be utilized by schools across the nation.
Community, connection, and classroom learning are keys to a successful future, and effective internet use will create a generation of students who will form the basis of a new knowledge economy.
Digital Wish embraces this opportunity to help prepare students for the 21st century workforce and ensure future economic development. We are looking forward to working in classrooms with students, educators, and administrators, as well as with parents and communities. We will share everything we learn, and all the tools we develop, freely through www.digitalwish.org so that all school statewide and nationwide can benefit. We encourage you to contact us with any questions.
For more information about the towns involved and general info about the e-Vermont project please visit http://www.vtrural.org/
We'll see you in the classroom, Heather Chirtea Founder Digital Wish (802) 375-6721 ext. 202 firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric Bird Lead Trainer/Peer Coach Digital Wish (802) 681-8840 email@example.com
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 10:56:32 AM Thu 05/06/2010
Written by guest-blogger, Christine Berg
Last spring, after a presentation at a staff meeting about the benefits of service learning in the classroom, I decided to design my own service learning project for my French IV class. I contacted a former French teacher at our school, who is Haitian, about partnering with a school in Haiti. My vision was that we would correspond with them via email and video, and organize a benefit to help them purchase whatever supplies they needed for their school.
I contacted our IT department to find out what video equipment we had available, and they advised me to request the Flip video camera from our librarian. My students and I fell in love with it the first time we used it. It was so easy and fun to use! I immediately decided to use the grant money that I had received for the project from NYSAFLT (the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers) to purchase a Flip video camera for our friends in Haiti. Thus began our correspondence. On January 12th of this year, a massive earthquake hit the exact spot where our partner school was located. We were beside ourselves with worry. We took up a collection at our school and raised $500 for them within a few days. After about a week, we had an email from one of the teachers saying that the school had been destroyed, and the whereabouts of many of the students were unknown. They were going to move their base of operations a few miles out of Port-au-Prince and try to set up a relief center there. We sent them the money we had raised, and set about organizing a benefit where we were able to raise an additional $2800 for them. A few weeks later, we received an email stating that the school was caring for 60 children with the money we had sent. The best part was the attached video (taken with the Flip video camera, which had miraculously survived the quake!) of the children thanking us in French for our support. This was an amazing, life changing experience, and would not have been nearly as meaningful without the Flip video camera.
I have become such a believer in the power of the Flip that I recently convinced our district to purchase one for a student who was selected to study abroad in Russia for a semester through the National Strategic Language Initiative for Youth. She has been sending videos of her experiences in Russia which I have been sharing with my students. These videos have energized my students and have had a tremendously positive impact on students’ interest in language learning and travel. They have opened a window to the world for them.
The Flip video camera is an incredible tool which can bring people and cultures together, which is what language learning is all about.
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 10:26:10 AM Thu 04/22/2010
For nearly 10 years, Bob Wood has spent much of his time outside of the classroom trying to bring new concepts into the classroom. During his summers, Wood travels and studies, conducting interviews and taking notes for his students to analyze and discuss within the scope of history. Recently however, Wood has added the Flip Video Camcorder to his storytelling arsenal.
Written by Digital Wish teacher Bob Wood:
In Senior Current Issues at Oakridge High School in Muskegon, Michigan, we focus on issues of the day. I’ve taught the course since 2000. All things political, international and domestic, natural disasters like Katrina, and this past January the earthquake in Haiti, land in our lap. If the kids feel the urge to get involved - we move. The course also provides us the chance to use Flip cameras for a myriad of assignments. From interviewing local small business owners to “four a year” student video diaries, the Flip serves as a creative tool for class projects. This year Oakridge student efforts for earthquake relief in Haiti and my use of a Flip camera came together quite nicely on a sunny Sunday morning in Selma, Alabama.
The Haiti earthquake moved many high school students around the world to action. An article in the February 5th New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/06/world/americas/06tuberculosis.html?hpw provided us inspiration. Touched by the story of Pierre-Louis Monfort’s tuberculosis clinic, my students began a passionate effort to aid those struggling to survive in Haiti. We sold t-shirts, secured donations and pledges for a 24-hour fast of solidarity with Haitians in need, and invited local high schools to join us. Our cheerleaders wore Help Heal Haiti T-shirts as uniform tops and our basketball team warmed up in them on Fast Night. The entire Oakridge Community joined in. In the end we raised $3,129, which with contacts gained through the Times article, we were able to wire directly to the streets of Port Au-Prince.
The Flip video camera entered the picture the following week. I was in Selma, Alabama for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, which takes place annually and pays homage to the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights movement. On Sunday morning prior to the Bridge procession when speeches were being made outside on the steps of Brown Chapel, I explored inside the church. It was quiet and empty except for a handful of people near the back pews having their photo taken with an elegantly dressed man. They asked if I could take the picture. I did…and was introduced to Raymond Joseph, Haitian Ambassador to the United States. I filled Ambassador Joseph in on our fundraiser, that a bunch of kids in a small rural school in West Michigan had fasted for 24 hours and collected over $3,000 for his beleaguered nation, and that we were giving our donations to Mr. Pierre Louis Monfort and his tuberculosis clinic in Port-Au-Prince. Ambassador Joseph too had read the story in the Times. He was touched by our compassion and conveyed through me a generous message of gratitude to all of my students. His only regret was that he could not thank them in person.
Luckily, I always travel with my trusty Flip video camera. I asked Ambassador Joseph if he wouldn’t mind telling them himself. He was pleased to do so…and here it is: See Video!
To be able to bring this thank you message from the Ambassador of Haiti back to my students in Muskegon made our mission complete. With the video, my students and my school were able to truly feel the gratitude for all of their hard work to “Help Heal Haiti.”
To follow our entire Help Heal Haiti campaign please go to bhttp://blogs.muskegonisd.org/bwood/
Bob Wood - Oakridge High School Muskegon, Michigan
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 01:02:21 PM Wed 04/07/2010
Written by Jon Ketchum
In less than one month, fifth grade teacher Stacy Yetzer campaigned for $500 in community donation through Digital Wish. To help spread awareness for her classroom campaign, Yetzer worked with students to craft, stamp and mail hand-written letters to local business owners in Kersey, PA.
For nearly a decade at Fox Township Elementary, Yetzer has been committed to teaching students how to take ownership of their knowledge. As the facilitator of the classroom, Yetzer says that she continually strives for an equal balance of student and teacher participation.
“Finding a balance is difficult but I think once you do, it's well worth it for the kids,” Yetzer said. “By showing them that I am willing to work with them and be one of them, they open up and really give me what they're capable of.”
Yetzer often turns to technology to enhance independent student study and peer evaluation. Since receiving an interactive whiteboard, Yetzer says that she has been on a mission to put more technology into her classroom.
“I haven't had my Promethean Board for too long, but hands down this is the best asset we have in our classroom,” Yetzer said. “So I navigated through Digital Wish and read the instructions on how to actually start accumulating money for more technology.”
Soon after, Yetzer decided that she was going to ask her students to participate in a letter writing campaign. When the students realized that their letters could turn into classroom tech, they jumped at the idea.
“We started the campaign as an in-class writing activity,” she said. “We brainstormed ideas around the technology that we wanted and then we wrote rough drafts and edited them before we sent them out.”
Just two weeks after the letters landed in local mailboxes, Yetzer and her students started receiving donations. In total, the 19 letters sent inspired local business to give 4 cash donations and 2 product donations totaling $500 in funding. They raised nearly one donation for every three letters they sent.
“I found that the businesses that donated to us really appreciated the student's attempt and effort in writing letters,” Yetzer said. “I also had several business owners tell me that they appreciated the fact that the students added comments about our classroom and how their money would be used.”
Through the success of her campaign, Yetzer was targeted by her local PTO to speak at the next board meeting. According to Yetzer, Fox Township's PTO is looking to get more teachers involved in Digital Wish. Through the meeting Yetzer is also hoping to introduce the idea of PTO contributions to Digital Wish classroom campaigns at Fox Township Elementary.
“I have volunteered to help get the other teachers in our school on board through Digital Wish because it has worked for me,” she said. “It's a huge help, people truly don't understand the different costs a school has and how much we try to do with what we have."
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 02:13:04 PM Tue 04/06/2010
A guest blog by Digital Wish Teacher, Mary Williams.
Mary Williams has been teaching chemistry to St. Mary High School students for nearly a quarter century. Although Williams has always loved her job, she claims that she has found new classroom vigor through the tech-tools she now uses with her students.
As a guest blogger, Williams tells her classroom story:
I teach chemistry at the secondary level. I have been teaching for over 25 years, and have been re-energized this year by all the technology available to me and my students. Not only does it make learning fun, but more importantly, I believe it makes it more effective. Let me share a few of my experiences with you.
I found out about Digital Wish this fall and they made me aware of the Flip, a small video camera that is extremely easy to use. Since first acquiring this little device, I have had to lend it out to other staff, almost as often as we use it in class. I have had students who usually run the other way when homework is mentioned, come in after school to make a Flip email card about a chemistry demo for the class. Students now ask to do projects involving video. Some students are natural “hams” and I take advantage of this by having them present chemistry ideas to the rest of the class. In the process they learn (when you have to teach you tend to really learn the material), and it helps the other students learn too.
One of the “hot” words in education seems to be Multiple Intelligences or MI. I’m sure many of you have heard of this theory and I see evidence of it everyday in my classroom. So the question becomes- how do you effectively teach to all the different MI’s in one classroom, in one period? I don’t know if anyone has a complete answer to this, but I have found that using multimedia- visual, musical, linguistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences all blend together and seem to help students.
When I assign a project involving a video, such as animoto, (if unfamiliar with animoto, go to their website and check it out: www.animoto/education.com ) the students really, dare I say, enjoy it! Projects that involve a visual, musical and even the limited written element not only reach several of the intelligences, but also allow students to express themselves, to process what they are learning, and often, to see how learning can be fun. Then, when we share the projects in class, we review the content multiple times. Think about it. I assign a 2 minute video on properties of acids and bases, and when we watch each others videos- we may review that concept 10-15 times. They enjoy making these little videos, as well as watching them and it takes relatively little time.
There are several other websites that I find allow me to address students' multiple intelligences, and keep class interesting. One is www.blabberize.com . When you can get a picture of Einstein to tell the students what they should bring to lab- they tend to listen. Or if you can have a student do a first person biography of Antoine Lavosier (Father of Chemistry) and have Lavosier present his biography to you, it adds a little something to the report.
Another interesting site that is a fun way to present material, either by the teacher or for a student presentation, is www.goanimate.com ( link to http://goanimate.com/movie/0z3GjuMDFR2A?utm_source=linkshare&uid=0JzS0pHb8X-E for an example). This creates animations which you can use to present a new concept.
Do all these things replace the problem sets, lectures, review and traditional teaching methods? No, not at all, but they sure do add to them-and I believe enhance the learning process. For the students it’s like coming to class everyday, and instead of listening to one note over and over again, they can listen to the whole musical scale- and maybe pick up a catchy tune they can’t keep out of their head.
The websites I mentioned- and many many more are listed at www.boxoftricks.net Click on the resource tab for an alphabetically listing of many good websites.
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 11:17:59 AM Thu 03/18/2010
Digital Wish has joined forces with one of the country's leading electronics recycling company, Cartridges for Kids (CFK), to offer the Recycle Forward fundraising campaign. Recycle Forward is a program where YOU, the educator, can start your own campaign for your technology wish list items by recycling old electronics and ink cartridges for cash!
Thats right! Just by asking community members and local businesses to move their used electronics out of closets, you will raise money to move the technology you need into the classroom!
Register now: Just login to your Digital Wish account and click on the “Recycle Forward” banner from your “My Account” page. Schools and community members can register for free at www.recycleforwardnow.org.
How does the program work? We provide you with flyers and PR materials for an easy-to-launch campaign to spread the word to community members. Anyone can register for free at www.recyclforwardnow.org. Just print posters, set up a collection box, and circulate flyers to publicize the drop location. Free, pre-paid shipping labels can be printed from the website, and the items ship directly to Cartridges for Kids for processing. All of the money earned from recycling drive will automatically appear in the school’s Digital Wish account.
With the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day approaching on April 22 this is the perfect time to kick-start your campaign!
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 11:54:32 AM Mon 03/08/2010
Published by guest writer and tech specialist, Stacy Bodin
Upon entering Dozier Elementary anyone would instantly see a normal elementary school, however looks can be deceiving. Not evident as you look down the cheerful hallway, is the long road traveled through the last four years in the life of the school.
September 24, 2005 was the date Hurricane Rita hit a neighboring coastal Louisiana parish, sending flooding water in Vermilion Parish. Of the twenty district schools, seven were instantly displaced. One of those schools was Dozier Elementary in Erath, Louisiana.
On October 6, 2005, a long physical journey began for the elementary school as the teachers and students moved the first time. The initial leg of their path began with a platooning system with Cecile Picard @ Maurice Elementary, a campus sixteen miles away. Making a difficult situation feasible for five months, both student bodies worked together to share one school plant by attending long days, three days a week.
With an excited community in tow on March 13th, Dozier Elementary made its second move back to their stripped school for a short lived two month span. Glad to return home, everyone dismissed the bare gray cement floors, empty walls, the absence of classroom doors and ominous feeling in the once “warm” school atmosphere.
With extensive work still needed on the facility, the faculty, staff and student body moved a third time in June of 2006, to FEMA trailers where they remained three years. During that time span, Hurricane Ike brought flood waters back to the community, flooding the three Erath schools once again on September 13, 2008. Fortunately this time, with Dozier still housed in FEMA buildings, the teachers didn’t suffer the loss they experienced with Hurricane Rita. The unoccupied original school plant did flood again.
During the first week of August in 2009, Dozier Elementary educators moved a fourth time to return home to its renovated school. As anyone could imagine, filtering through the halls, were familiar whispers of the famous line Dorothy spoke in the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home!”
With the school in a basic survival mode for four years, the goal now lies with regaining smaller technology items and acquiring new resources and/or tools. With district wide budget cuts coming, the school also hopes to begin replacing older computers with the help of donors or grants.
Though money was donated for damages at the district level, understandably earmarked funds were spent on replacing larger and higher priority technology items for all district schools, but the smaller and personal items were not.
In February, Dozier Elementary decided to move forward using their “Eye on Technology” theme and venturing out with a new idea linking the Digital Wish Foundation. With the spotlight on their website @ http://www.vrml.k12.la.us/dozier, the school launched a “Digital Wish/Technology” campaign in hopes of refreshing their technology program and gaining needed resources. Principal Karla Toups and the tech committee set up a school wide page asking for grade level cameras, accessories, flip cameras and software. Individual teachers also each have personal digital wish accounts with needs listed, in hope that parents, grandparents, and/or businesses would help their classroom needs. Letters were sent home by many classroom teachers to communicate current needs for continuous technology growth.
Educators are seeking instructional software for reading, writing and math which would benefit daily technology centers and intervention programs. With the goal of moving forward through creative technology lessons, many teachers are interested in digital storytelling tools. With the help of the Digital Wish/Technology campaign, it is the faculty’s hope that donors could assist in rebuilding, as well as helping them move in a positive and productive way.
For the teachers, students and faculty members who experienced the flood waters and moving four times in four years, memories of hardship do emerge however, coupled with that struggle, lies triumph, strength, endurance and a strong commitment toward education. Each educator, student and parent who endured the four year journey would quickly admit two things “It has been a long, hard road for the school” and that “there really is no place like home!”
Additional Links in case you need more photos, etc…
You can see Erath Flooding photos Hurricane Rita @
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 04:00:05 PM Wed 03/03/2010
Published by: Jon Ketchum
This school year John Downs, the Technology Facilitator at Jefferson Middle School in Winston-Salem NC is helping to rally his 80 fellow teachers to start their own classroom campaign for technology. With slimming state budgets and a need for new tech-resources within the school, Downs has asked his colleagues to join Digital Wish.
As Jefferson Middle School's first hired Technology Facilitator, Downs holds weekly grade-level and subject-specific tech-tutorials for students and staff. Beginning in 2000, these workshops have helped his school become more proficient in current internet trends such as wikis, google docs and blogs.
"My job is to serve this school in everything technology and I try to offer as much as I can," Downs says.
Although Downs claims that Jefferson Middle School has a high commitment to technology, he also notes that his staff is severely underprivileged when it comes to tangible tech-resources.
"You know in some ways I feel like we are five steps ahead and in others I feel like we are five steps behind," says Downs. "Most of the money that we receive for technology goes to my salary, which I am happy about, but in the same sense it doesn't help us get new technology each year."
To counter the school's need for new tech-tools Downs and Mike McDowell, Jefferson Middle School's Improvement Team Chairman suggested that the faculty take individual measures put technology into their curriculum. To do this McDowell suggested that every teachers should register on Digital Wish to begin a classroom-campaign.
"A lot of the teachers, were pleasantly surprised around Christmas when parents and community members donated to their Digital Wish classroom after we sent a mass email," Downs says. "In the email the teachers insisted that instead of receiving Christmas presents they would prefer a contribution to their classroom wishlist."
With twenty-five Jefferson Middle School teachers now registered on Digital Wish Downs hopes that he will soon be able to educate his staff using new classroom technology. His vision is to one day have a strong enough infrastructure at Jefferson Middle School so that each teacher can have a whiteboard for their classroom. As read in his Digital Wish profile, Downs believes that the best way to educate 21st century students is with 21st century tools.
He writes, "We live in a digital age, and students have become accustomed to learning in digital ways. As teachers we need to have access to the latest technology in order to connect with our digital learners."
To learn more about John Downs' school-wide technology campaign you can visit his profile here.