I was farting around browsing Instragram when I came across Amy and Stu McLearn (if you are not aware of them they are amazing, inspiring people whom founded #VillageImpact please see; Write to Give; Kenya for more insights into this), when I came across their Instragram story of making an #Impact on others, and share this with their children as a family tradition.
Watching this was truly inspiring, absolutely wicked, so I decided to take a page from the McLearn’s and give it a whirl. Please visit; Operation Secret Elves to see our expierence within Instragram.
Suffice to say, it was fun, exhilerating but most of all it taught the kids that this IS the Season for giving….not just recieving! It was exciting watching my kids get excited when people walked into Tim Horton’s after we provided the lady at the cash with a gift card to buy the next few customers their coffee / tea / hot chocolate from ‘secret elves’ as we said.
So, we sat anxiously awaiting people walking into Horton’s the kids, eagerly smiling away as a sweet lady was surprised at cash! She winked at the ‘Secret Elves’ on her way out the door with a huge grin on her face, then two elderly ladies walked in and it took them a couple minutes to comprehend what just occurred. The lady at the cash had to explain it twice….my ‘secret elves’ we giggling away smiling too!
I would say mission accomplished! Best part for me was watching the ‘Elves’ smiling and feeling how they can make a small impact on someones day! Even better was what I recieved getting into the truck to go home; “Dad, can we do that again next year!?!?”
So, within our instragram story, Xander set out a challenge; which was, go out and do something special for someone like he and his sisters did!
This was a fantastic learning experience for the kids!
A few years back someone shared; their #Oneword to lead them into the New Year! I been doing this alongside and last year actually wrote a blog about it; seen here (click the highilight text). Within last years blog entry for my #Oneword I used ‘Agility’, basically to juggle and withstand all the vast assortment of activities and life itself within our choices as a family and also myself as an individual.
This year the word I am choosing is somewhat piggyback from one of my new Canadian Icons; David Saint-Jacques (you can follow him on twitter using that linked text) mission outlook he choose, which was ‘Prespective’ as it refers to his ‘Unique experience of seeing Earth from Space’.
He says; “From the ground, it can be difficult to fully appreciate the complexity and intricacy of our planet, but the astronaut’s vantage point gives them the chance to appreciate our home from a distance and to get a better perspective on its beauty, fragility and history”
“When I was a young child, I saw one of those photos of the Earth from the Moon, and it opened my eyes to a different way of viewing the world. I’m looking forward to seeing our home from space for myself, without borders or differences, and can’t wait to share my experience and new perspective with others.”
Well… Lakewood Elementary School’s 2nd Annual Hour of Code Event has concluded, the hard work and effort was well worth it, but the learning outcomes from this event were much more inspiring and enjoyable for me watching unfold!
The three ladies above approached me a few weeks prior to our event that we hosted, after I had mentioned that our classroom would be planning the event again this year. Last year they all partook as we launched the Hour of Code at Lakewood’s Girls Can Code Event, which they all thoroughly remembered and enjoyed.
I was asked if I would consider letting them plan and organize the entire event. At first I was a little taken back, slightly as this was my baby…but taking a step back I thought how empowering would it be for these exceptional students to take the lead and run with it. So, somewhat unwillingly but very optimistic the driven, determined ladies took over with the planning. They had multiple planning meetings with each other during recesses, nutrition breaks, which they met with the Administrator within the building to share their desire to plan a day for ALL to enjoy an Hour of Code. They had a date set, a target group (Grade 2/3 students as we have 6 classrooms and 6 periods within our daily schedule), which would fit the timeframe / periods we had to work with.
From here the girls, met with all teachers involved asked when their preps were, organized a timeframe that worked so all teachers involved would not miss their preps as well. They then devised, edited and presented me with a classroom schedule, teachers involved and even a letter they created inviting all classrooms to our event, delivered the letters and within two days we had it written in stone….it was on like donkey kong!
We had a meeting the following day discussing what centers we would provide for the grade 2/3 students coming in, looked at classroom numbers (students to devices we would have on hand), found out we were short (problem solved by asking teachers involved to donate classroom devices to our event for the day as their admission into the Hour of Code). With this problem solved the ladies came up with 8 stations; Makey Makey, Micro:bit Fidget Spinners and Critter / Faces, HourOfCode.Org, MinecraftEdu, Scratch, Inksmith’s K8 Robot and Box Island.
Once, we determined our stations the girls requested a meeting to discuss their next job assignments. They presented me with station leaders, whom excelled within the given stations they choose (which were all right on the money), then shared the support teams within the lead students team. They shared that for them to manage all 23 other classmates it would be too much, therefore by running one station themselves and ONLY have 7 other lead helpers coming to them they would be able to manage 2 each…if I would help with one of the stations too. Another problem solved!
The ladies then met with each leader in the group shared their thoughts and feelings and then asked them to meet with their team and devise a ‘plan of attack’, which occurred the next day during our ‘learning commons’ period. These leaders then came back and shared the next day their plans with myself and the girls, which was well done. Now the ladies decided to create lists (I think to ensure Mr. Archer kept / got all his ‘toys’ ‘gizmo’s’ and ‘gadgets’ back) as Mr. Archer is a tad bit OCD and is obsessive at times with returning his personal items. The lists included a checklist of items that would be collected the day before into a small bin to take down for the leads stations to run smoothly (i.e., Micro:bit Fidget Spinners; Real Fidget Spinner, 5 Micro:bits, 5 cords to transfer files, 5 power sources), which the leads would also gather and check off prior to leaving the Learning Commons space once the event was over (I greatly appreciated the attention to detail they had).
The girls shared these with leads, asked for feedback (if anything was missing, again adapted lists and again this was checked off the list). I found with each given day they became more and more particular ensuring all the fine details were wrapped up and tied up with bows! They also decided to have ballots, for feedback on the grade 2/3 students favourite stations they visited during their hour visit with us, they told me I could use the ballots for math (which we did this week, data management graphing and analyzing the outcomes; favourite stations, least favourite….looked at possible reasoning why, how to encourgage people to go to that station next year; looked at creating ads, comics, witty sayings etc…).
The day before we had a mock ‘run through’ during our ‘Learning Commons / Library’ period, which ran smoothly! The girls then also tacked on another addition; creating a checklist for each student to ensure they tried everything. They even told me when I did my ‘Welcome Presentation’ to ensure to encourage them to visit at least 4 stations, if they did they could throw thier checklist in a box to be pulled for prizes the following day (class by class too). I obtained stickers from Microsoft for Microbits and whatnot for the kids too!
Low and behold the day was upon us….the outcome; smooth as ice! Incredily seamless infact, no issues that couldn’t be problem solved with ease! They tought of everything and then some! The best part was they requested a ‘reflection meeting’ with me the following day…..I thought to miss recess again, but it was to help me plan for next year with my new group of kids! Too funny eh?!?!
So….what was learned?!!? Well….just like coding; run a program, regroup when testing ‘if not work’, iteration needed, ‘fixed’ re-run, mastered then move on, innovate, recreate better…when run into trouble, revisit ‘if not work’, iteration needed….insert forever loop! In a round about way the ladies learned how to manage, run and plan a seamlessly incredible event for 140+ peers at the age of 11 years old.
One word….amazing! My thoughts? Well….to be honest, prior to sharing what I think I would love to hear what you all think….
I did rely to my good buddy Brian Aspinall the effort and work the gals put into this event. He was pumped to see what the outcome would be, very proud to hear the interest the girls had into running the event and sent a signed copy of his Code Breaker Book for the girls! I will pitch this as well…..Block Breaker coming soon in the new year!! Woot woot!
Way to go ladies! Well done, blow away with the effort, focus on all the fine details and committement to planning!
Looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks of the girls effort! Please share!
Moving ahead….even though the Hour of Code / Computer Science week is over we can always continue to use and implement coding / programming into learning each and everyday moving head! Take a leap of faith, well worth the risk!
Have you ever awoke to the alarm and thought…oh boy last one this week, just pound through it!?!?! Almost there….yep, yep as a teacher some weeks are like this, so as per my regular routine; I checked the weather my twitter (I am addicted) and a few other quick things prior to the morning shower!
Today, within a few minutes I was emotionally charged! I was ready to take on the day! Thanks so much Nycol, you kicked off my day with a bang!
I always get a chuckle to some degree when reflecting upon various Ed Tech Conferences and events I go to firstly because my wife calls them ‘geekfests’ and yeah they may be but we are the coolest geeks out there! And two; the people you meet the experiences you have and the things you learn are incredible, but most of all the PLN that you grow is powerful. Teachers need teacher, we all need each other to get through the gruling year, those long tedious weeks prior to Christmas and the dreadfully short days of January and Febraury as darkness settles in so quickly after work.
This morning I was reminded how powerful my PLN is, not just for networking and sharing ideas, thoughts and helping each other problem solve, but to support each other! I look at some of the incredible names within Nycol’s Blog and become instantly charged knowning I was placed within the same paragraph as the iconic Martha and Dustin Jez! Throw in a Brian Aspinall and top it off with the incredible smile from Jennifer Casa-Todd and this teacher is pumped!
Within Nycol’s Blog she also included a photo from the amazing Canconnect #Ignite Event hosted by Fair Chance Learning and I instantly was brought back, surrounded by incredible educators I greatly admire; Jonathon So, Lee Martin and so many others!
Find your PLN people, these individuals will forever be in your corner, forever able to be ear, a voice a helpful hand, friend and colleague! PLNs are extremely pwoerful, inspiring and emotionally uplifting, today I owe a great deal of gratitude to Nycol!
Who will you inspire today!?!? Reach out and shout out….
I walked into the building today listening to the Arkles; Knocking at the Door and another amazing song by Panic; High Hopes….look out kids today I am going to finish this week off with a bang! (Inspiring songs got to add these to the play list!)
I would like to introduce you all to someone / something really cool!
Crazy K8 (Kate) made her first ever appearance at Lakewood Elementary Schools #HourOfCode event this past Thursday, December 6th, 2018.
K8 was introduced to intice and engage students into the Abstract World of Computer Science (during Computer Science Week) for grade 2/3 students (140+ students to be exact).
For students who are in mid primary its hard to understand the reality / notion of coding and computer programming. Especially the message that I was trying to share; that “Coding provides you with ‘visual understanding’ of mistakes / errors in your work” and that “these mistakes / errors show teachers / people that you are trying / working and immersing yourself into your work”
One of the key things we teachers love for our students is growth in learning, which leads to success stories and understanding of big ideas and concepts embedded within curriculum content. For me, the key, the absolute largest impact I can have on my students is “Teaching them how to respond when they are NOT successful”. This is how and when I pull in the fabulous world of Coding / Computer Programming.
Coding is in my opinion the new ‘cursive writing’ its the 21st century version of sharing information in a meaningful way with 21st century products that are thoroughly engaging for todays youth! The world they (our students) have grown up in is drastically different then our world during our youth, therefore as Educators; we have a duty to teach to our students interest areas in order to engage, inspire and create a culture of inquiry driving learning.
For this teacher I am trying, with exhausting efforts to constantly find items, interests and engaging ideas and concepts my students love and want to learn about, let alone a creative means of tying these into our Ontario Curriculum Document. Coding is something I have been able to find vast assortment of curriculum connections while using, Micro:bits (which can be purchased from Fair Chance Learning Online Shop, click that highlighted text please)
Now, enter my new friend; ‘Crazy K8’ (aka Kate). Crazy K8 uses Micro:bits to Code / Program and basically move. K8 requires a reciever Micro:bit and a remote control Micro:bit that sends radio signals to the actual robot, aka K8. The hardness for the robot itself allows for an insertion of a Micro:bit, which is fantastic because with ONLY one K8 Robot, the entire classroom can create meaningful coding programs that they want in collaboration to manipulate K8. So, once creation occurs, students can then try out thier program inserting their Micro:bits into K8 and see their success or mistakes/ errors in reality. Talk about powerful eh?!?! (Yep, I am Canadian).
So, moving back to our #HourOfCode event, what I was sharing from my slide deck (link is added at bottom of this blog) before students were about to go out and explore our 9 stations (Makey Makey, Micro:bit Fidget Spinners / Critter Faces, HourOfCode.Org, mBot Soccer, MinecraftEdu, Scratch) was that K8 (Kate), was driving me (a teacher) bonkers, but more then bonkers moreso crazy…. the students were instantly inticed!
I could imagine and see the confusion on their faces, a teacher being driven crazy by a robot!?!? So, I shared that I was struggling understanding the concepts, I was going crazy trying to figure out how to create the program the drove the K8 robot correctly, infact I looked up youtube ‘how to do’s’ (because I am a troubleshooter, problem solver, but enjoy doing it on my own) and had no luck! I was stuck…(just like them within the classroom).
Now, being an Educator with 10 years of experience we become fantastic storytellers, we become incredible prompters, probers and forthought thinkers. So, these kids were sad, as they thought they would get to see K8 roll out… one individual said; why didn’t you ask for help?!?! Bingo!…. I actually contacted my buddy Doug Braden (who is one of Inksmiths own as the Chief Technology Officer, click that highlighted text to get to his twitter handle, give him a follow too a great educator and inspires me) who helped me out. The key I was missing was the ‘Collaboration’ piece to this puzzle in order to figure out the programming I was not totally able to understanding even with Inksmiths tutorials, which are fantastic and can be found here; https://inksmith.teachable.com/
You see, teaching students ‘Critical Thinking’ and ‘Computational Thinking’, we can infuse a new way of approaching difficult tasks, problems they will face in the future with any struggle they may have. Classroom teachers provide lots of curriculum content learning, which is often difficult for people to gain a strong confidence in their abilities to succeed (this was me with anything math related, and still is the same today).
This all goes back to my need to infuse the ability to “Respond when they are not successful” within my students. Looking ahead to the future we will have a drastically different reality, drastically different jobs and drastically different problems to solve within our world; therefore the workforce / problem solvers of the future (our students) need to be armed and ready to conquer these problems using ’21st Century Competencies’
So, lets go back and revisit Thursday, December 6th, 2018. Students were in the moment engaged and thoroughly infused and listening to my every word, as I said; “K8’s programming was really hard, she was driving me crazy….I had to make 17 ‘Iterations’ (adjustments to the orginal program I wrote to control her) and I still need to make adjustments as she is not perfect yet”. One student mentioned she was cute though….and that she was (I added purple pipe cleaners for crazy ponytails), another mentioned that no one is perfect, not even teachers as you are people just like us too! Jackpot….if kids see us fail and make mistakes it allows them to see that the mistakes are fine to make, it is within a mistake that we analyze and find solutions to problems!
Now, the ridicously crazy educator in me always tries to inspire and infuse problem solving into any oppertunity, and I was not going to miss this one as I had my 26 students, 140 + grade 2/3 students, 6 fellow teachers, many drop in parents a local newspaper reporter (Click Here, to read the article he published later that day) sharing the learning on hand.
I actually programmed K8 wrong on purpose, for ‘purposeful learning’ to allow everyone to Computationally Think (using decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithic design). The program I wrote using the Micro:bit, went like this; ‘When tilted forward, motors spin backwards’ and ‘When tilted backwards, motors spin forward’ and visa versa with left to right movements.
I told the audience that I am still very determined, but ran out of time last night and needed thier help figuring it out….teaching to the power of ‘Collaboration’ (even a teacher needs help), but the most powerful piece, is that I am well known as a fantastic robotics, cool toys and tools guy…..but this guy, this teacher needs a students help to find a solution to a problem….that is / was the powerful piece! Some people tried it out and low and behold K8 wouldn’t do what they wanted it to (but what the actual program I wrote DID tell her to do), she was driving everyone ‘Crazy’, hence ‘Crazy K8’.
I had many thoughts and suggestions, lots quite good, all thinking with abstraction! I did have two little ladies (seen below) who figured it out! Two whom neither ever seen block coding before, two whom heard others suggestions, worked the problem, again, again, again and finally got it! (I love ‘The Martian’ and Mark Watney is the Ultimate Problem Solver…infact I always show my grade 6 students this movie at the end of our space unit and Watney is referred to afterwards throughout the entire year).
This 3D Printed Robot, known as K8, but within Lakewood Elementary known as ‘Crazy K8’ (Kate)….I think I am going to change her to a capital ‘K’ because crazy cool things for the really cool kids use a ‘K’ for ‘Kool’, therefore; ‘Krazy K8’ is inspiring, ridicously engaging and wicked awesome as well for teachers, students and anyone! She was a hit at Lakewood Elementary Schools 2nd Annual #HourOfCode (click on that highlighted text to see a Sway for that day).
K8, would make an incredible Christmas Gift that is under $80. If interested please visit Inksmiths Online Shop! (Click the highlighted text).
Meet my wonderful, incredible class this year that hosted the #HourOfCode at Lakewood Elementary in 2018 below; Archer’s 2018 6’s
Meet the two awesome gals who figured out ‘Krazy K8’s’ errors within her programming below;
Thanks for reading and listening to our story of our #HourOfCode event!
I am currently writing this Blog on prep listening to Fair Chance Learning / Lets Talk Science Facebook Live with Sir Robert Thirsk (Canadian Astronaut), so kind of cool as they are talking about STEM Education and Coding directly related to Curriculum Content Areas with Micro:bits and skills going into the future!
Flip back; Yesterday Archer’s 6’s hosted a wonderful day of Coding during Computer Science Week. We had over 140 + students walk through Hour of Code with us. It was crazy busy, but so much fun!
During the event we shared 8 stations; Makey Makey, Micro:bits (2 stations), Hour of Code, MinecraftEdu, Scratch, Box Island, mBot soccer.
Students were exposed to Computational Thinking and features embedded within the aforementioned stations. The message we tried to share can be seen within our local papers news artcle found here; http://bit.ly/2L2VsWP
I would highly encourage people to explore any of the various options embedded within my friend; David Carruthers Google Doc; http://bit.ly/2L0X6bx
I am very proud of these kids! They worked very hard planning, implementing and running the entire event! A Big Shout Out to Lucah, Gabby and Emma for the extra time put into the nitty gritty behind the scene planning as well!
So, closing up Computer Science this week I want to encourage, inspire all teachers, students to go out and explore various means of coding and programming within your own personal learning and connect into classrooms as well!
Follow people to develop a strong PLN surrounding Coding and Programming online; lots of great options out there! Please take a look at my following list to find many, many amazing people and educators to follow with!
In closing during the next 6 1/2 months Canadian Astronuat; David Saint-Jacques will be aboard the International Space Station conducting research, experiements and much more! Please take a peak at; http://bit.ly/2L3iMnt
Trying hard to do this more often now, things are finally starting to settle down a tad, so now I get a little more time to dabble in my passion projects!
So, my buddy Brian Aspinall, just posted; ‘It’s Friday, what was the most memorable moment this week’? Well…buddy we had a few!! So, here we go!
This week was the Global Microsoft Skypeathon; which was another incredible experience, where we travelled across the Globe to India, Kenya, Africa, California, Florida, Malaysia and chatted with some very incredible, inspiring people right here in Ontario, Canada as well; such as Derek Tangredi (Micro:bit Workshop), Lia DeCicco Remu (A view within the Grade 6 Classroom, Amy and Stu McLearn (Entrepeneuralship and Write to Give), Melissa Young (Cardio Blast / DPA) and Mr. Brian Aspinall (Makey Makey / Scratch Workshop)…so many other fantastic people to like Ms. Cavers, Jason Heritage (and his daughter Laura, it was take your child to work day), Sam and Philip down in Africa too!
It was a great two busy, exhausting but incredible days!
But, that was not the moment that stood out for me this week. One of the connections we had was with Stu and Amy McLearn and one of the students had mentioned she would love to create a YouTube Channel sharing her thoughts and opinions on music. Stu suggested a Podcast like his Marketing Your Business Podcast. So, here is the moment that made my week….this gal; E was curious, asked lots of great questions that day after school and also asked if I knew of any great Apps to use to create a Podcast. I have a few in mind so I mentioned those but I said go home do some homework and find something that is great.
The next day E and I explored ‘Anchor’ we walked through the templates and created a ‘Mock Podcast’, and she was hooked! She said; ‘Be ready Monday Mr. Archer, I will have one ready for you!’ That was the moement, that gal was inspired by Stu and I in turn was inspired by her! Therefore I reflected on my past thought and concept of attempting one myself and decided, dang if she is going to try why not do it myself?!!?
So, I created ‘Archer’s TNT Classroom’ Podcast which is now avaliable on Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Radio Public, Pocket Casts, and Spotify….crazy eh?!?! Curious….check this out….https://anchor.fm/joe-archer
So, there you have it pal. That was my moment this week, while trying to inspire others I became inspired by one of my students!
Oh it’s been a while, been super busy, but going to jump in for a short and sweet blog posting about how I use a Microsoft Tool in the Classroom.
The tool I am going to share is amazing; OneNote….but what makes this tool that much better is how I can integrate it with multiple other user interfaces with ScreenBeam, Lifeliqe and the OneNote Clipper.
Within my classroom I love using and integrating OneNote into programming. Not only does it make photocopying cheaper (as we can screen shot a worksheet and embed it into our Archer’s Grade 6 OneNote Classroom within our Math / Literacy sections (or anything for that matter), but it also allow all my students to access the same material within their abilities.
What I mean by this is that those whom struggle with reading can use the Immersive Reader to help gain understanding of the content. Students can also use digital inking to highlight key information, details from text to help answer questions. Students can also video record their answers to questions or even voice to text written material within their sections of their personal OneNote Student Pages within Our Classroom OneNote Binder.
I can immediately provide feedback, via inking, videos, checklists and rubics with easy clicks and digital ink. OneNote is my go to for my students and also as an Educator for Pedagocial Documentation! My mark book has numerous, voice recordings of students reading, photos, videos, inserted sway / powerpoint / kahoot and then some links and embedded documents.
One of my favourite pieces is how I can also allow parents access into thier child’s personal spaces within the notebook. I empower my students to share links from thier work within their binders with family and friends, sways and pwoerpoints as well.
OneNote is the be all end all in my opinion! But, when I can embed and grab material from something as interactive and incredible as a program life Lifeliqe with the OneNote Clipper and embed into the Content Area or even Collaboration Space to spark conversation this tool goes beyond spectacular! Now, when I tweak and go the distance with some wicked amazing classroom agility using my ScreenBeam with Classroom Commander that allows me to see student screens live (see what they are working on, or not), freeze their screens for ‘teachable moments’, share links and documents I want them to investigate further, or read with shoulder partners etc…it takes my teaching to new hieghts and levels that allow me to maintain classroom management, student leaders to share material with a click of a button without leaving their seat with ease too!
Add in another one of my favourites; the G-Hold (Large Size Pop Socket for Computers) I can now be extremly mobile, engaging (yes, I talk often with my hands as I am often elated with wicked content in grade 6). G-hold makes my life easier as I can be mobile and engaging without worrying that I will drop my incredible Microsoft Surface Pro Computer (which I love, love, love too).
All in all, OneNote and all these incredible add-ons / add-ins make my life as an educator so much more enjoyable and fun! I have added much more depth to my pedagogy, delivery of content and 21st century usage and implementation of the 21st century competencies within my classroom helping me merge students into 21st century learners, collaborators and problem solvings on a global scale!
To be perfectly honest Microsofts O365 Suite of incredible apps and programs make a teachers dream of a cohesive, engaging, global classroom a reality! I love my apple phone, I love my Ipad BUT there is ONE and ONLY computer for me and that is MY Microsoft Surface Pro…..the best part is all my favourite tools and applications are accessible across all my vast devices no matter Apple or Microsoft, I can easily pop back in forth across devices with ease to make my job much easier and fluent!
I cannot stress enough how much more I enjoy and love my job while using Microsoft Tools such as OneNote!! A few honorable mentions; Teams, Sway (love it), Powerpoint, Flipgrid (a newbie to the collection), OneDrive (my storage dream come true), Office Lens, OneNote Classroom and my Global Go-To; Skype! so many more to choose from too!
Want to learn more about these tools!?!? Ask away, always willing to share my love and passion for these incredible products that make teaching incredible! My classroom is a 21st century room because of Microsoft and these wicked ‘awesome-sauce’ tools!
Well…its been a week since returning home and yet I am still overwhelmed with the experience and floods of emotions I am continuously revisiting. This trip to Kenya, Africa took me places that I did not know existed….not physically but emotionally, sentimentally and life altering.
The true beauty and physical nature in Africa was beyond words and truly incredible, and a friend told me once down there, something would always tie you and pull you back. Its only a week and as amazing as it has been being back home with my wife and kids, I would be lying if I said I was truly glad to be home.
I think the tie and or emotional attachment occurred once arriving at the schools; Shalom Primary and Ndatho Hope Primary School. There is a saying that goes, “Seeing is believing” which I am beyond humbled and proud to say I witnessed first hand the true power of a global connection, the invincible tie of the human spirit and powerful bond between two Nations coming together for a community to ignite, create and inspire HOPE.
Amy and Stu McLean has created something transformational! Being part of this inspiring adventure across the Ocean has lead me to new notions and beliefs on life. Amy and Stu created a movement 7 years ago with only $350 in a non-profit bank account, which has brought many Schools into International Displaced Communities throughout Kenya, Africa.
The mission from Write to Give was; to build confidence in children’s reading and writing, build global awareness for cultural differences and help other children in developing nations. The actual outcome….so so much more!
Walking into the school community seeing the students, teachers, parents and people you could truly see, but even more so feel the true impact that their inspiring movement has brought to the people of the community. People gathered by the hundreds when we arrived, welcomed us singing and joining hands to take us to their newly built school. Tears were seen throughout all that exited the vans, emotions flooded our souls and changed us in that moment! What we didn’t know nor understand was how the next few days would change us and move us in ways that were unforeseen!
Building days were particularly emotional whether it was the fathers from the community helping to build a path that would later be paved to the outdoor washrooms from the school, painting with the Momma’s or planting the hundreds of trees on the school grounds people from two drastically different Continents / Cultures and Race came together as one. Language barriers became obsolete, emotional bonds were created through blood, sweat and tears of pain raising 80-100 lbs stones that would line the path to the washroom, holes that were dug and sanding that was done on the wall within the school. The kids began working alongside each other white and black with the same mindset; ‘Together we CAN do it’.
One of the most incredible moments and something I still see, hear and feel more then a week later was when one Momma and a North American Donor found a common ground and love of the song ‘Amazing Grace’. They sang together in two languages, the crowd gathered and at that moment it was as if time stopped, as if humanity said “We are one, we are strong and we can do anything together”. Words cannot express the true moment in time…..you just had to be there!
One moment for me that was sentimental was being told I would get the oppertunity to share some of our Write to Give books with the teachers and students for their schools library. I always thought it was a fantastic concept and notion to Write for others and give back somehow, but being able to walk up to the schools bag in hand with 20+ Write to Give books, authored by Lakewood and Hagersville Elementary School children amongst’ other Canadian and America children and teachers was beyond fathomable! I am still trying to absorb that moment and cannot describe it and do it justice! I fought back tears, quivers of emotion during the 10-15 minute span that was touching, emotional and inspiring.
The kids were so incredibly excited to see brand new books! I actually seen a few roll the pages through their fingers, nose sniffing the smell of the new books, inhaling as if it was Grandma’s Thanksgiving Dinner. The Kenyan teachers eyes filled with tears of joy and pride when receiving the Write to Give books, I was embraced as if I was a long lost family member for bringing books…..seriously bringing books! Some of the kids actually tried running away with the books, but others stopped them and motioned for them to return them to the teachers so everyone could enjoy them within the schools library of roughly 100 books.
This was my piece of the pie that took me into something that I didn’t foresee; this moment bonded me and tied me to the school, the teachers and kids. My friend was right; I was tied and emotionally attached to Kenya and Africa in that moment! I cannot say enough about hope grateful and honored to be part of this incredible, inspiring adventure! Thank you soooo much Amy, Stu and Carey!
Looking ahead into this Write to Give program I want to share and say that for anyone intrigued and interested, take a leap of faith and just do it! The back end of things is beyond worth it. What I was able to experience has inspired me to do more and without a shadow of doubt this program is making a Village Impact!
Amy and Stu had re-branded their non-profit to ‘Village Impact’ prior to this trip, such a fantastic name! The impact within the school communities is beyond words…but I did hear through one amazing kid; Eriksson (whom is 19) that “What you all have done is brought back HOPE to our communities”. Hope….this is still trickling through me.
Hope is described as; “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen” or “grounds for believing that something good may happen in the future” and yes, there is a new hope within these incredible communities; an inspiring movement where the children and families can experience education, learning and the world at their fingertips. Hope that they can be anything and anyone with the education they are obtaining. Hope to become one whom will inspire and give back to their communities, extend outward into the Country, Continent and even throughout the Globe! With hope, anything is possible, everything is a possibility and the sky is the limit!
While flying above the clouds on route home I had this glimmer or hope myself that I would return one day in the near future with my family to share this experience, but within a different role….I know deep down that from seeing the hope and belief within the eyes of those Kenyan kids that I will return one day, they will make the days ahead challenging yet emotionally worth it as I find a way to make an impact myself. This has been an experience of a lifetime, a journey that was life altering and has motivated me to pursue new creative and innovative concepts to reach out and help others to continue this movement of Hope alongside Village Impact!
I came to Kenya, Africa on slightly different terms then others, yet left inspired by the Kenyan’s and North Americans alike! I have never met so many incredible people with hearts made of gold, mindsets similar in nature to my own. Winning this trip was incredible, but I have to say I whole heartily believe that it was meant to be! I’ve been inspired and emotionally charged like never before….a new mindset and outtake on life itself and motivated to take a leap of faith and try the entrepreneur route in order to give back like they had, and even more so got the opportunity to see them all experience!
I need to do a big shout out to a few incredible people on the ground in Kenya, Africa; Edidah, Samuel, Philip and Irene! What you guys do is amazing, continue to push the limits and boundaries and do what you all do best! Hope starts with you all, inspire others with your work and hard effort everyday!
To all the incredible people I met along the way; thanks for taking me into your group, you are all inspiring and incredible in so many ways! I absolutely come home to Canada with a newfound faith in humanity for doing what is right and good throughout the globe because of you all!
Finally a huge thanks to Amy, Carey and Stu for all that you do….there are no words, just continue your cause as it truly has made a Village Impact!
Wow, I cannot believe I am 11 days out from leaving on a trip of a lifetime with Village Impact (formerly known as Write to Give). If anyone is unsure or even unaware of this incredible foundation a former Port Doverite; Amy McLearn founded and would love more information please visit Building a Better Future and Village Impact (you can also make contributions on this site if you wish).
I have been looking at this experience and thinking constantly over the last year since winning this opportunity, and I still am numb and cannot believe its officially happening soon!
I became involved with this project through twitter, when I heard of the incredible impact it was having on people overseas through Write to Give. This is a fantastic program that I have been running within my classrooms for the last two years where my students and four other classrooms get together and create a book focusing on a character attribute designated to us. The books are then published by Scholastic which then can be purchased online for $15, which then goes directly to Amy’s foundation building schools in Africa. The writing process is incredible with your students (I cannot say enough about the totality of the entire experience) and best of all they become published authors! I am hoping to find their Published Books within the schools I am visiting shortly!!
This year over 50 students (Grade 5/6 – Archer’s and 2/3 – Samborski / Dubinsky) from Lakewood Elementary became published authors writing The Adventures of Mr. Waddles (please see the link to purchase that particular book in Hardcover, Softcover, Ebook or Audiobook format) as my students worked with our French Immersion Reading Buddies, Mr. Jonathon So, Mrs. Maureen Richardson and Mrs. Kristine Hollway classrooms all from Southern Ontario within our Collaborative OneNote Binder for this project.
This trip itself is 11 days of pure ‘Impact’…I love the new branding they decided upon as I know it WILL have a huge impact on my life during and afterwards as well! I am still trying to think and consider what could / would I do to have an impact afterwards and I know right now going into the experience that something will come alive and be discovered during the adventure!
At Lakewood this year Liz Cavers and I hosted Lakewood Elementary’s first ever ‘Cardboard Arcade’(If you have not heard about this please visit Caines Arcade and of coarse my good friend and daredevil educator Lee Martin for more information and resources for your classroom). During which, the students decided they wanted to find a way to help / support and make an impact themselves on Students in Africa. As a school Lakewood raised $250 from this event where students donated $1 for a ‘Fun Pass’ to experience the Cardboard Arcade games Liz Caver’s and my students created using ‘Old School Arcade Games’ and their creative flare! These funds will be used to purchase pencil cases full of school supplies for the kids in Africa…..I cannot wait to share photos when I arrive at Ndatho Hope Primary School with our students!! This week I will be visiting Port Dover’s; Lakeside Savings to purchase the items for the pencil cases for the students (its always important to support local business’ whenever possible).
This is a link Africa; Village Impact Trip to the OneNote Binder I created for this particular trip. I love sharing and would hope that my personal experience can lead to some ‘impactful thought’ for others, which is why I created this binder to follow alongside the journey I am taking.
I will try my best to utilize the time to share / document (photo’s / video’s / etc…) during the trip for all to see and experience! You can follow via Twitter; @ArcherJoe or Facebook; Joe Archie as well.
Kwa heri (Goodbye) and Asante (Thank you!) for following along!
B.A; Arts, M.ED, E,C,E
Remind Connected Educator
Digital Lead Learner in Grand Erie
Twitter Handle: @ArcherJoe