Saturday, 25 June 2016

Finding water on Mars

"One of the most exciting latest discoveries that we have found is evidence for water flowing on the surface of Mars today."

These were the words that Tanya Harrison spoke to my Science 9 class during a Google Hangout.  They were recorded here:

This is the second time that I had that this-is-so-amazing-that-my-students-get-to-discover-this feeling welling up inside of me this year.  The previous time was when we heard from Charis about the work she was doing with pluripotent stem cells.  I outline that CBL in the post Can we teach too cutting edge? 

And it happened again here.  Connecting with an expert not only taught us about what it is like to be the first to receive a picture from Mars, the difference between the Mars rovers, and the future of space exploration.  Our connection gave us up-to-the-minute discoveries, including the discovery of explosive volcanism on Mars that day. You can probably tell that I am still beaming from that experience.  It was incredible.

Connections-based Learning experiences bring a genuineness into the classroom.  They bolster the relationships without and within the class.  Shared experiences like helping end water scarcity or aiding orphans and widows in Ethiopia and promoting reading for pleasure in Uganda create a we're-in-this-together kind of feeling with a class.  Attendance is affected positively.  Student effort increases.  The us (teachers) vs. them (students) position that we can sometimes get into can fall away.  Students are retweeting teachers.  Teachers are retweeting students.  There are high fives.  Dogs and cats start living together in harmony.

Okay, well maybe the last thought is going a little too far.

But add to this that these students constructed their own goals for the #CBLchat with help from me.  I share about the setup for this #CBL experience in How to Design a Connections-based Learning experience. Student responses to our connection were amazing.  Here are just a few of them:


I end this post with a call for others to join me.  As we take a much needed summer (or winter for those in the southern hemisphere) break and reflect on our past year and where we want to go next year, would you consider including more out of the class connections: serving the community, supporting organizations, interacting with experts, and partnering with classes both locally and globally.  Connecting with experts is just one facet of Connections-based Learning.


Join our growing Voxer community where we share our needs, experiences, trials, triumphs.
Share your connected experiences with the #CBLchat hashtag
Sign up for Connected Learning Partnerships joining classrooms around the world, going live this fall.
Visit our #CBL Google plus community and share a post of your connected experiences
Or make a comment below.

Either way, reach out and join us as we learn about and speak into the happenings around the globe ... and even beyond!

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