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Most organizations or schools feel that jumping on the social media bandwagon is something that they should do because it is becoming the norm for others. If you think that Twitter is just about tweeting, you are missing a huge cultural shift that is happening.
Too many people use Twitter as a “one-way” communication. They simply use it to deliver messages with no engagement at all. This might work if you are a huge celebrity, otherwise you are spending time doing something that is really going to do nothing but take up your time. If you are just sending information out, with no interaction, you are becoming the new “spam”.
Communication is key with organizations, but the huge cultural shift is that people do not want to just hear, they also want to be heard. You might have a lot of followers on your account, but that does not mean people are engaged in what you are doing.
For example, @AirCanada used to be a horrible Twitter account. It was used to share deals and tell about how awesome they were. If anything, their presence and lack of true communication did more harm than good. People wonder why would organization be in a space that is about back-and-forth communication, but only talk, and not listen? Now, the account is doing an amazing job to connect with customers when they have concerns or problems. I would never use email with Air Canada as I know their Twitter account is much more effective and faster. They have to be, because the whole world can see their reaction (or lack thereof).
What is also important is heart. Creating an emotional connection through a social media account is an art form and the Edmonton Humane Society does this beautifully. It is not that hard to make people feel something when you are sharing puppies, but not everyone understands how to do it. They share amazing stuff on their Facebook page, and often connect with people sharing it. They have taken an organization and made it “human”.
To sum it up, if you want people to not just “follow” your school or business, you can’t just share. You need to listen and engage, while also connecting and tapping into the humanness of people.
It is not just about “tweeting”. There is a major shift that has happened in our world because of these different ways we can communicate. Are you really paying attention?
Day 114. While staying in the hotel n Chrustchurch I noticed the bathroom had one of those old style round magnifying shaving mirrors on the extendable arm. It inspired me to take a few stubble selfies in the mirror, which I then assembled into this image using Diptic.
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Amin Saberi and Anne Trumbore recently talked with Vicki Davis on episode #67 of Every Classroom Matters about encouraging creativity. Only 17% of creatives felt a teacher had taught them to be creative. As our economy moves away from the industrial workforce, into the information age and beyond, the question arises, “How does one teach creativity”? Well, Stanford Professor Tina Seelig, the designers at NovoEd and some pretty amazing rock stars may just be on to something.Show Notes: What Are the Best Ways to Teach Creativity? ECM #67
Amin and Anne focus on teaching creativity through a MOOC (Massively Open Online Course by creating a course through NovoED in collaboration with Tina Seelig at Stanford University entitled, “Creativity: Music to My Ears”. Students peer review work and more than 10,000 people are taking the course in April and May 2014. (You can still sign up.)
Amin describes the six week free course in the episode, which anyone can take.
Josh Groban, Lily Allen, and LinkinPark are just some of the artists involved in helping to teach this course. Anne emphasizes that publishing work to the world online encourages collaboration and community. Learning creativity in safe communities as in the course enhances the learning of creativity. The assignments are peer-reviewed against a rubric for course assessment. (See the awesome first assignment where participants were asked to create an album cover of their life.)
Amin created NovoED to teach students in the same way students are taught at Stanford. Many courses are business courses, teacher training, and entrepreneurship. Student-centered learning is at the center of all these courses, that is the courses are experiential, social, and innovative.
###Listen to the Show to Learn about Stanford’s Creativity MOOC
Every Classroom Matters is a bi-weekly podcast by Vicki Davis on BAM Radio network dedicated to excellent education. Listening will help you teach with better results, lead with a positive impact, and live with a greater purpose. Subscribe.
Show notes prepared by Lisa Durff, Production Coordinator for Every Classroom Matters.
The post Massive Creativity MOOC with Rock Stars, Prof Tina Seelig, and NovoED appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.
Another Interesting Ways resource to share with you. This time we are looking at Evernote one of my tools I use daily and something that has great potential in the classroom.
As you can see we have just gotten started with this resource so I would be grateful if you could help by adding some ideas to the open, editable Google Presentation. Alternatively you could share this resource with your own network to help spread the word and encourage ideas to be added.
The Theme: An Easter Hat Parade
The Models: Grade 5 students from near Boneo, Rosebud, Victoria.These students shared their wonderful Easter Hat creations in a virtual parade.
The audience: Year 7 students from Hawkesdale P12 College, a visiting teacher who is interested in seeing how the virtual classroom works
The tool used: Blackboard Collaborate (BbC)- virtual classroom software provided by our Department of Education for use by Victorian teachers
The outcome – an engaging and fascinating linkup between students of different age groups all learning from each other using the video conference through BbC.
Other Activities: Further activities included all students drawing decorated Easter eggs on the whiteboard, sharing what they were doing over the autumn holidays (this started to show the difference in nature of our geographical locations) and then a discussion with our visiting teacher, who teaches Japanese, as to any pre-existing knowledge about Japan.
What Worked Well
- taking the plunge with a teacher who is a close colleague (Sally Walsh and I are both web conference coaches) and as such we have complete faith and confidence in each other.
- an engaging activity – the Easter Hats. All students like to see parades!
- the nature of the activity – it was a theme on Easter, a popular celebration and displayed lots of creativity. Our school does not do the Easter Hat parades but maybe this will inspire us to do so next year.
- the chat – students could interact with each other in the chat, ask questions and give feedback on some of the wonderful creations.
- testing that audio and video works immediately. When classes are involved, it takes time to ensure everyone can logon.
- Switching off the audio when a class is watching. The loudest noise activates the web camera and projects that classroom.
- Learning new communication techniques including clear, deliberate, diction, appropriate use of the web camera.
- Having a visiting teacher in our room
Have you been involved in virtual parades with other schools? How did it go? Would you recommend these types of activities to others?
From the CSTA announcement list.
Bootstrap is a curricular module for students ages 12-16, which teaches algebraic and geometric concepts through computer programming. In this workshop you’ll learn how videogame programming can be directly aligned with algebraic and geometric concepts. Work with your peers to discuss classroom experiences, and spend the day in your students' shoes. You'll be able to debrief with other teachers, talk pedagogy with the trainers, and try out the materials and software firsthand. And finally, you'll go home with a video game that you created! Choose the one that best meets your needs.
San Francisco, CA :: May 17th
We're offering a one-day Bootstrap infosession, hosted by Upward Bound at USF. This is not a full training, but will be a good introduction for anyone who is interested in learning more about the program. Discover how Bootstrap connects computer programming to core algebraic concepts, using a creative and hands-on project. You can sign up to reserve your seat, at USF's registration page [http://www.iammath.org/]. For more information, contact Emmanuel Schanzer firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Bootstrap website [http://www.BootstrapWorld.org].
Waltham, MA :: June 25th-27th
The Massachusetts Computer Science Teachers Association is hosting a 3-day BYOD Bootstrap Workshop for teachers, which runs from June 25th-27th. This workshop is a full-scale training for math and computer science teachers, which includes a chance for you to practice teaching some of the material and getting feedback from peers and master teachers.
Register at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/bootstrap-summer-professional-development-june-25th-26th-27th-registration-9697608809 to reserve your place now - registration is limited, and these seats will fill up fast! For more information, contact Emma Youndtsmith at email@example.com, or visit the Bootstrap website [http://www.BootstrapWorld.org].
New York City, NYC :: August 20th-21st
Bootstrap is delivering a 2-day workshop as part of our partnership with CSNYC. Space is limited to 40 participants, and priority will be given to public school teachers. For more information, contact Rosanna Sobota at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Bootstrap website [http://www.BootstrapWorld.org].
Hope to see you there!
New research suggests the tax office should expand the list of acceptable explanations for procrastinators' yearly extension requests and late tax filings. Two possibilities: "I was born this way" and "failure to evolve".
Contrary to popular (female) opinion, you can have all the symptoms of the flu without being infected.
While Gallileo thought the moon had nothing to do with the tides, the Yolngu people from the Northern Territory knew better.
As Ken Blanchard says, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” But it would seem there are certain things that dictate our appetite for feedback. According to Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone, the co-authors of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, there are specific variables that distort the way we perceive feedback from others.
The following is taken from the BIG Think clip above.
“The first is your Baseline. In the literature this is called set point sometimes. It’s sort of a ‘how happy or unhappy are you,’ in the absence of other events in your life. Where’s that level that you come back to?”
“… the reason this matters for feedback, particularly if you have a low set point or baseline, positive feedback can be muffled for you. The volume is turned down; it’s harder for you to hear it,”
Heen explains that the second variable is Swing, or how much we are moved off of our baseline by any feedback. And the third variable for effective feedback is Recovery, or how quickly we return to our baseline.
It is useful to consider these three factors in the classroom as well, providing us some further ways to consider the impact of feedback for learners. Additionally this helps us to remain focused on how we are making this relevant to individual learners.
You can read more about this here The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback | Think Tank | Big Think
David Menasche , author of The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons, didn’t sit at home when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. When he was no longer able to teach due to the cancer and blindness, he travelled around the country to see his students and he truly got to see the impact he had made in their lives.
The book is the story of his 101 day adventure visiting his former students. He relates how The Priority List was his student’s favorite lesson in which they prioritized 26 abstract words like love, power, and spirituality. He taught English in southern Florida, but his students recalled the conversations, the life lessons, and his insights more than the content of the class.
The Guardian released an article in March noting that Steve Carrell is producing the movie based upon this book.
When I read David’s book back in January, I knew it was important for him to speak his story to the audience of Every Classroom Matters. So often, we as teachers forget both that we matter and also that sometimes the most important lessons aren’t those from a book.
This wasn’t an easy read for me but the story was raw and authentic. Teachers have tough situations to deal with every day and David had more than his fair share. Certainly some of the issues in this book will be controversial to many. But working with students is messy. Helping them become adults is hard. Being a teacher who helps kids find their way without imposing our own will and belief systems upon them is important. Students have choices and we must help them make their own way. David does that.
By the time I did this interview, I was exhausted and overwhelmed just because David deals with edgy stuff including death – the specter of which most people choose to ignore. You’ll find yourself asking questions and making choices in your classroom that will make you a better person and your students better people as well. While I’m not saying I always agree with his advice to kids – few of you would agree with all of mine either, I do agree that teachers make a lasting difference. I also think more literature teachers should use this priority list approach and worked on the show to get more about this teaching method so you could use it.
Thank you to David for his bravery and coming on the show.Add David Menasche to your PLN
Every Classroom Matters is a bi-weekly podcast by Vicki Davis on BAM Radio network dedicated to excellent education. Listening will help you teach with better results, lead with a positive impact, and live with a greater purpose. Subscribe.
Show notes prepared by Lisa Durff, Production Coordinator for Every Classroom Matters.Need help to figure out how to listen to the show?
last week I installed the new Windows Phone 8.1 for Developers on my Nokia phone. There were some pretty cool features there with Cortana (the Siri for Windows Phone if you will) getting a lot of attention. And I’ve had some fun with it.
One feature that was almost there was called Project my Screen. I say almost there because while support for it was on the phone it needed an app on the PC to work as I wanted. Well now the PC application that enables the feature is available to download from Microsoft’s servers. That is a screen shot from my PC of my phone screen on the right.
Now some people, including me, have had some issues getting it going. I found a solution a couple of places and have included one of them below. BTW the problem was with a Windows 7 machine. My Windows 8 machine was no trouble at all.
I hear talk that a wi-fi connection is coming but for now I am connected to my PC with a USB wire. It works pretty well and I look forward to demonstrating some of the apps I have been working on that use features that are hard to show in the emulator – like shaking. If you have a Windows Phone this app will come in handy for a lot of things.
One solution found on Reddit.
- Launch the app on the PC;
- Connect the Phone via USB;
- Go to Project My Screen settings on phone, it should say "Searching...";
- Close the app on the PC;
- Go to device manager on PC;
- Under "Universal Serial Bus Devices" you should find several instances of your phone. Right click each of them and press uninstall. It will prompt you to reboot once or twice, make sure to press "No";
- Disconnect the phone from USB;
- Launch the app on the PC;
- Connect the phone and wait around 30 secs for it to reinstall drivers. Note: you may need internet access for this on PC.
- On your phone, go to Settings->project my screen. Plug in your phone to your computer
- Open the Project My Screen app on your desktop/laptop. You should then receive a message on your phone asking whether you want to project your screen or not. Pressing yes will initiate the screen projection.
My cat Sootie has been unwell for some time now. He has had trouble with his urinary tract on and off for some time and this year it has been uncomfortable for him more often than not. I decided it was not right to see Sootie suffer so and so I made the difficult decision to have Sootie put to sleep.
He has been a good mate and a loyal companion. Following me around like a shadow and sitting by my side each morning and night.
This is a recent resource I have shared on Twitter that has proven really useful and very popular with educators. Thanks to Rebecca Alber and Edutopia for sharing/creating the original.
You should complement this with some of the following great resources on questioning in the classroom.
- 26 Questions You Could Use Instead from Max Ray that focuses on the types of questions you could use in the Maths classroom.
- Top Ten Questioning Strategies from Alex Quigley is a great read and has some lovely ideas for immediate use in the classroom.
- Encourage students’ higher order questioning from our very own NoTosh Lab, which provides a simple download for a higher order questioning cube.
Are spammers finding new ways to hack into our social media accounts?
A Google algorithm can nearly perfectly decipher CAPTCHA codes online.
Jerry Blumengarten @cybraryman1 talks with Vicki Davis about using technology in the classrooms. He asserts he would connect students with any technological tool he could, and finds embedding technology in learning is important to today’s teachers. He talks about the Genius Hour, the flipped classroom, and the maker movement.
Despite being a retired educator, Jerry never stops learning.
He recommends these hashtags:
And Twitter tools
He recommends teachers try out the learning resources on his site
-> Cybrary Man’s Educational Web Sites. He emphasizes that students should see us learning – that is crucial for teaching and coaching.Every Classroom Matters Show #54: Jerry Blumengarten
“A Discussion with the Connected Educators’ Cybrarian”
Note from Vicki Davis: Hat tip to my dear friend Lisa Durff who is joining me as the production coordinator for Every Classroom Matters. While the people at BAM RAdio do an amazing job producing this Internet Radio show, I want to give you better show notes and a more timely post on my blog when shows go live. Lisa Durff worked with me on Flat Classroom and is a dear friend and connector. I’m grateful she is willing to jump in and help as she continues to finish up her doctorate at Walden University in their Ed Tech Program. Lisa drafted this post and is also helping me book and coordinate guests.
The post Jerry Blumengarten: The Connected Educator’s Cybrarian appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.
For ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, I will be presenting on the “Myths of Technology and Learning”. As I am really thinking about what I will be sharing at the conference, I wanted to write a series of blog posts that will help myself and others “rethink” some of these statements or arguments that you hear in relation to technology in school. I will be writing a series of blog posts on different myths, and will be posting them on this page. I hope to generate discussion on these topics to further my own learning in this area and appreciate any comments you have on each idea shared.
The Myths of Technology Series: “Technology Makes Us Dumb”
“In short, people who are able to keep up with technology will outsmart those who don’t (even more than they do now). Therefore, educators, parents and employers should try to foster an appetite for complexity, a curious and hungry mind…” From Is Technology Making Us Stupid (and Smarter)?, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Ph.D.
When I was a kid, I had this ability to memorize every single phone number of seemingly hundreds of people in my life. Now I can safely say that I know four. My mom, my work, my own phone number, and 911. There are hundreds of numbers that are stored in my phone, more than I could have ever possibly memorized. Did I lose the ability to memorize or did I lose the need to memorize? Am I “dumber” than I was before because of this lack of “rolodex-like” memory, or, is someone “dumber” because they don’t know how to put the information in their phone in the first place? Who loses out more?
The argument that I have heard often is that “technology makes us dumb”, and I will admit, things have changed a lot in a short amount of time. In a hilarious bit by Pete Holmes, he talks about how Google is “ruining our lives”, and he states that, “the time between ‘knowing’ and ‘not knowing’ is so brief that ‘knowing’ feels exactly like ‘not knowing’.” We don’t “wonder” as much anymore and we have to make sure that we allow our kids, “to be curious, to imagine deeply and to think creatively”, that we were afforded as children (and adults).
A shift in thinking?
In one of the many articles I found when researching this topic, entitled, “Education in the information age: is technology making us stupid?”, they author posts a powerful statement on a possible shift in the world of education:
“So perhaps what is more important is not whether technology is making us stupid but if educational systems need to shift from teaching us what to think, to showing us how to think.” Jason Lodge
Is the idea that “technology makes us dumb” so readily shared by many because it actually has lessened our “knowledge”, or because it is throwing what we have done in the past, and what we are comfortable with, out the window?
Dan Brown, a former university student, posted an “Open Letter to Educators” talked about the shift that has happened in our world with the democratization of information and how knowledge becoming “free” to the masses has made many aspects of traditional education irrelevant. He makes an ominous statement to educators in a video that has been viewed over 276 000 times:
“Educators of the world…you don’t need to change anything. You simply need to understand, that the world is changing, and if you don’t change with it, the world will decide that it doesn’t need you anymore.”
Perhaps we need to view the idea of “knowledge” and “intelligence” in a different light.
One of the biggest opportunities technology has afforded us as an individuals, and more importantly our students, is opportunities to learn that work for us as the individual. Assistive technologies have been used for years in classrooms, but with a push towards “Universal Design for Learning” (Ira Socol is one blogger that has really taught me a lot in this area), there is a focus on what works for every individual learner. I think back to my days in school and how tired my hand would become quickly from “cursive writing”, and how that physical fatigue, even small in nature, would quickly lead to mental fatigue. Now, instead of writing notes in a book which was the standard practice when I was a student, I now have the opportunity to write on my phone, tablet, computer, or even record my own voice using Evernote to come back and revisit ideas. This opportunity to use a myriad of tools has allowed me to learn in a way that works best for me, not what someone else might be comfortable using.
David Crystal, a professor who has researched the the impact of texting on literacy, discusses the idea that the use of mobile technology has actually improved our ability to write. His research led him to find that the earlier you have a mobile device, the better your literacy scores while also improving spelling. If you summarized his research, it would be that people are becoming more literate because of the use of mobile devices because they are reading and writing more. People often argue the opposite, not because it is wrong, but because reading and writing on a device looks different than how we did it as children. If you think about it, how many times as a kid were you reading, writing, and walking at the exact same time?
The simplest things with technology can make a huge difference with students. Inspired by the movie, “The King’s Speech”, a teacher gave a student with a stammer, the opportunity to speak while using headphones and listening to music:
This technology gave a student a voice that they might not have been comfortable using before. This does not feel like “dumber” to me.
The world at your fingertips
So when you can Google everything and all of the information in the world now resides in your pocket, we have to start thinking differently about school. If I asked a teacher a question, and they used Google, or tweeted out the question and found the information through a social network, many people would consider that adult “resourceful”. Yet if a student does the same thing, they are considered a cheater. Ewan McIntosh has talked about the idea of “Google vs. Non-Googleable Questions” that leads to higher level thinking. It is not that content has become unimportant, but as Thomas Friedman states in his article on how to get a job at Google, “the world only cares about what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it)”.
Information to a library was never seen as a detriment to knowledge, in fact, it was often seen as an advantage. If you actually look deeper into that process, many students would take what was found in the library as “fact” as someone had went through that information for you as someone had most likely went through that information for us. When we now carry the information (way more information than could ever be stored in books in a library) in our pocket, we have to teach our students to discern what is credible information, while also giving them opportunities to do something with that information. A library in a school would never be seen as a detriment to knowledge; neither should the vast library on our phone.
As many have pushed back on the idea of allowing students to bring in devices to exams, we have to think that if you can simply google the answer to a question on a test, is the question really that strong? The shift in schools should not be away from content; the shift should be what do we do and create with the content.
A focus on creation
“If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. . . We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” Cecil Day-Lewis
Clive Thompson, author of “Smarter Than You Think“, is a strong believer that technology has given us opportunities to learn in ways that we have not been afforded to us in the past. In his article, “Why Even The Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter“, he discusses how having an audience can actually help us to think deeper about what we are sharing:
Literacy in North America has historically been focused mainly on reading, not writing; consumption, not production. While many parents worked hard to ensure their children were regular readers, they rarely pushed them to become regular writers. But according to Deborah Brandt, a scholar who has researched American literacy in the 20th and 21st centuries, the advent of digital communications has helped change that notion.
We are now a global culture of avid writers, one almost always writing for an audience. When you write something online—whether it’s a one-sentence status update, a comment on someone’s photo, or a thousand-word post—you’re doing it with the expectation that someone might read it, even if you’re doing it anonymously.
Having an audience can clarify thinking. It’s easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing.
Social scientists have identified something called the audience effect—the shift in our performance when we know people are watching. It isn’t always positive. In live, face-to-face situations, like sports or concerts, the audience effect can make athletes or musicians perform better—but it can sometimes psych them out and make them choke, too.
Yet studies have found that the effort of communicating to someone else forces you to pay more attention and learn more.
Thompson also discusses that before the Internet, people rarely wrote after high school or college, but more and more, people are writing because they have the opportunity to connect easily with others. Although school has had a strong emphasis on “reading”, writing seems to get much less attention. With the ability to write about what you are interested in to an audience that cares, it can be the difference between someone being literate or fluent.
Writing makes us smarter. We often focus so much in education about the notion of our students “googling” but we should think more about the content they can create so they can be “googled”. The biggest shift on the Internet is not necessarily the knowledge we can access, but more the knowledge that we can easily create and share.
As Thompson states, “The members of ‘dumbest generation’ aren’t just passively consuming media any more. They’re talking back to it.”
More than just information
“The smartest person in the room, is the room.” David Weinberger
I have used this quote in every single presentation I have given in the last four years, and have encouraged participants to share their knowledge through social media outlets such as Twitter through the use of a hashtag. It is my way, as the presenter, even sometimes considered to be the “expert in the room”, to continuously learn from others, whether they are in the room or not. No matter my abundance of knowledge in any topic, I am never smarter than everyone combined in front of me., nor out there on the Internet. The knowledge that is out there online now is similar to an abundance of a natural resource found in any area. It is not about understanding the benefit of this resource; we know knowledge is power. It is simply learning how to tap into it, access it, and using it in meaningful ways.
My question to the Weinberger quote is, “How big is your room?” Are you limited to the five people in the meeting, the 50 person on your staff, or to anyone willing to connect?
Yet sometimes the audience just needs to be one person.
When one of our students blogged about a booked named “The Dot”, she was surprised that approximately five hours after it was posted, the author commented back to her. This impact from one person and the connection facilitated brings a different type of motivation to students that was non-existent when I went to school. As Steven Johnson states, “Chance favours the connected mind”, and we need to take advantage of this new opportunity that is afforded to both ourselves and our students. Someone once told me that after years of school, when students hand in assignments to their teacher, they just want it to be “good enough” but when they are writing for an authentic audience, they want it to be “good”.
The jump in our knowledge and understanding can be monumental because of technology. Educators just need to learn to tap into the opportunities that are afforded to us in an increasingly networked world and utilize to its fullest potential. It is not only about “knowing”. There is so much more we can do with and for our students because of technology. Let’s take advantage not only of the information, but the access to one another.
Our exchange to Seowon High School, our sister school in The Republic of Korea, has been an absolutely superb, exciting and positive experience for the students, staff and parents who made the journey during the school holidays.
For the last five years our school’s Wider World View @DHS program has encouraged students and staff to take opportunities to travel in Asia. This has resulted in educational trips and tours to Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Bhutan and Japan. Our relationships with Korean students and teachers are blossoming with each reciprocal visit as we broaden our understanding of respective cultures and traditions. It is a wonderful opportunity for Australian and Korean students to learn about everyday life in other countries by being billeted in family homes, as well as having the experience of classrooms and travel.
The school, established in 2003, has quality learning spaces and facilities Where the teachers generously shared their Art. PE, Geography, Music and cooking lessons with us. The students who were billeted had glowing feedback about their experiences with the generous Korean families who invited them into their homes. The students who acted as Korean Ambassadors were courteous, helpful and fun to be around. Mr Han, the vice-principal, has been warmly welcoming too. We all felt very comfortable and cared for during the exchange. Ki-Jeong, the exchange coordinator at our sister school, is a thoughtful and caring host. All the teachers have been very kind.
We would particularly like to thank Principal Yim for this wonderful opportunity to visit his school again!
Some of the highlights of our time in travelling in Korea, as tourists, were watching the changing of the palace guard, shopping in Insadong and visiting very high quality museums in Seoul and Suwon. It was a pity the pollution reduced visibility at the DMZ de-militarised zone with North Korea but it was still interesting to see this border and gain an understanding of the issues, including the concept of peaceful reunification. We also visited the War Memorial in Seoul. This is the most impressive museum with endless rooms, massive spaces and outdoor exhibits.
Korea has wonderful natural spaces. We spent quality time at scenic Songnisan National Park exploring the Beopju temple complex which includes the tallest of buddhas. The April sun was out and we basked in it under blue skies. Walking Hwaseong fortress in Suwon was also a highlight, especially for the youngest members of the party who managed some archery in the grounds. As always, walking was one of the best ways to explore the sites. The Folk Village was also excellent with superb traditional cultural performances.
The Korean people we met everywhere were friendly, cheerful, and open towards us. I particularly liked the vibe on the streets and took many photos. Street photography can be a little tense in some places around our world but Koreans seem very happy to have their photo taken. I found that young people have a sense of style and noted that Korean males buy more cosmetics than that of any other country. We also found Korean students interested in political issues and even met some protesting in the streets.
The technological infrastructure in Korea is worthy of comment. Mobile phone penetration is complete and students seemed to have very large devices, a trend found increasingly in Australia too. Free wifi is impressively omniscient. Television seems be broadcast on buses which is not something I have experienced previously. Most people reading this post would know that Koreans have a reputation for being very industrious, working and studying for very long hours compared to many countries. It was pointed out to me that Australia has many natural resources, Koreans have their ingenuity, especially with the manufacture of electronic goods, to help their country prosper.
We also enjoyed a wide-range of Korean foods at restaurants and in family homes. Everyone became very used to kim-chi. The final celebratory meal, hosted by Principal Yim and the teachers for all students and host families was delicious and our gifts from the school magnificent and highly appreciated by all.
We were all greatly saddened by the tragedy that occurred just after we arrived in Seoul with the loss of so many lives in a maritime accident. It was terrible news for all Korean people and their friends. Our hearts go out to all the families and friends who have lost loved ones.
Mr Lee and Mr Kim, who organised our trip are deserving of special thanks for their kindness and support. Ten days is obviously only a short period of time in a country but our previously very limited understanding of Korea has grown considerably and I’m sure the students, who all stayed with Korean families, have gained significantly from this experience. This exchange would not be possible without the support of these local families and the tour organisers.
My daughter is very appreciative of all the teachers and Korean ambassadors did to make her stay so rewarding. She was lucky enough to join with the school program, especially enjoying the classroom lessons where she made all kinds of beautiful items. The drumming was a particular highlight for her, as was making a kite and learning about Korean art! Lucy loved having Zara, Cedar and Ebony as companions for the trip. These youngest members of our party were great travellers, trying all foods and participating in everything. Well done, girls!
I am very proud of all our exchange students. They have been wonderful ambassadors for our school and country. When I asked our students about their perceptions of the Korea they all made comments about how friendly and generous Korean people were to them and each other.
They are all sad to depart for home tomorrow but looking forward to future Korean-Australian exchanges when some students will be reunited. In fact, our Korean friends will visit Australia very soon, in August, when our community will have the opportunity to repay the generosity we have experienced in recent days as we continue our learning partnership with the wonderful Seowon High School community.
Featured image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Darcy Moore: http://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/13909237043 and here are more photographs taken on this trip to The Republic of Korea.