TED Conversations

Tosca Killoran

Digital Learning Coach, NIST International School


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How do you promote, model and scaffold sustainable action within your classroom?

Action underpins many international schools as an important component that is linked with the types of learners teachers want to engender. Examining what planning, teaching and assessment policies and practices foster student self-­‐efficacy with regards to action, and identifying key understandings that lead to purposeful and beneficial action are important steps in facilitating a learning community that promotes and empowers student generated action. Many international schools' inquiry based education programs culminate with wanting the learners to take authentic action. Usually, that action is a one-off event, like raising money for children in far off places, less fortunate then those in the international school community. But is that what we really want as educators? How do you promote sustained action- or action that continues, evolves and grows beyond the classroom? How do you as an educator model taking action in your learning communities? How do you scaffold for that action? Do you assess your students' action? Where does action fall within the inquiry cycle? How do you celebrate action that is taken? Share your ideas and thoughts as we collaboratively build a model for best practice with regards to sustained action.


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    May 8 2012: Tosca, I am an outside of the box guy so allow me to wonder a little. Our subjects in the US are goal based. Once we get the right answer we move on. We send some can goods to a far off country and case closed. So kids are "taught" that once you get to the goal or end stage it's over. What if .... every six weeks (or so) we allowed the student to have an independent couse period for one or two weeks. The subject of this project would be agreed on by student and instructor and the amount of points / grade upon successful completion. This would allow for the feedback that you are looking for. If during this period a story about starving kids was presented .. it may have struck a nerve and you would get a project like, how to planting seeds, how to digging wells, raising funds, food drives, what are the effects of the Peace Corps efforts, etc ... I live in a small town and we have an excellent school. I am a coach. My kids and I do things together. We pull weeds, mow, and do service projects for those who need it at no charge. The greatest thing in my life is when these kids have their kids and go out and do service projects. I never ask any kid to come out and help. I post a list of where I will be and if they want to come they do. I seldom work alone.

    My point is that when you help your neighbor it is mopre meaningful than to send some cans off in the mail. Make it personal and local. "Authenic action" is not always measurable. The joy of a widow who gets help and offers her very sincere thanks because that is all she has is beyond a grade or a measure. It lasts a lifetime.

    Any ways just thoughts from a old guy. All the best. Bob.
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      May 8 2012: The program at my son's middle school sounds consistent with what you describe, Bob. Four times a year the entire school splits off into multiple locations for a day of service. Each student works as part of a team of 8 or 10 kids and works at the same location through the year. Some may work at a food bank, others in trail maintainance, and so forth. The students make selections at the beginning of the year.
      I like the projects for the fact that contact with the recipients of service is a step in building awareness and empathy. This seems more powerful and connecting to me than watching a movie and collecting money for a cause.
      Each service day involves pre-service reflections the previous day and a debriefing thereafter.
      The commitment of fourth full days to this during the year underscores the importance to the school.
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      May 12 2012: Rob and Fritzie,

      Yes!! These program ideas are great! I totally agree with you that start local- think global is important. I like that the schools/people you speak of are supporting the programs and that they are building community ties/empathy etc.. All super, and I am excited by your posts!

      Now, we take an additional step, I wonder how support the students' interests in order to sustain the action? For example there are a few websites that I frequent and they are: http://wearewhatwedo.org/ & http://www.actiontracker.org.uk/. These sites, are examples of action that is sustained. As a TEDXYouth organizer, I try to provide a forum for the students in my community to share their ideas and actions with the world. The students take local action, then the teachers help the students learn the skills to create ibooks, websites, published books, videos etc.. in order for others to share their passion and be inspired to take action themselves. This sustains the action beyond a one time occurrence for the student.

      You could also organize a TEDxYouth event in your community for the amazing kids you work with... http://www.ted.com/pages/organize_tedx_event

      The programs you speak of sound great, now how can we take that and make it part of a national curriculum? Something like Robert said, a Peace Corp for kids?
      Great posts, love the ideas!
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        May 12 2012: These certainly exist, though more typically for kids who are in secondary school or older, because of issues of supervision of them wherever they may serve. City Year, City Corps are names of some of these.
        Another program that may interest you is Bridges to Understanding, which connects younger children to a specific area of action, or what to me is part of action.

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