Archive for the iEARN Category

I had the chance to meet and talk with Dr. Reem Bahgat, a professor in the Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Computers and Information at the University of Cairo. She has been very involved with using ICTs to digitally record and catalogue much of ancient Egypt’s rich historical heritage. If you enjoy Egyptian culture and history, please visit http://www.eternalegypt.org/ and http://www.cultnat.org/ which explores the art of documenting heritage. Fascinating work to be sure!

She also made a presentation about another international project she s involved with, called the Living Values Education Program (LVEP). It is a comprehensive values education program. This innovative global character education program offers a wide variety of experiential values activities and practical methodologies to educators, facilitators, parents and caregivers that enable children and young adults to explore and develop twelve universal values. In addition to programs for classrooms and parent groups, LVEP offers special materials for street children, children affected by war, and children affected by earthquakes.

Implemented in 74 countries at over 7,000 sites, educators implementing LVEP report positive changes in teacher-student relationships and in student-student relationships both inside and outside the classroom. Educators note an increase in respect, caring, cooperation, motivation, and the ability to solve peer conflicts on the part of the students. Aggressive behaviors decline as positive social skills and respect increase. LVEP helps educators create safe, caring values-based atmospheres for quality learning. (an excerpt from the http://www.livingvalues.net/ Web site).

Many of you may know that I have had a long commitment to the issue of bullying and related intiaives, so this kind of internatonal project holds great interest for me, and I hope perhaps may be of interest to you as well.

Taima, Bill

I had the chance to meet two lovely ladies from Japan who were demonstrating two difference kinds of solar cookers, created by professors and students at the Japan Solar Energy Education Association.

japanese_solar_cookers.jpg If you would like to inquire about these excellent solar cookers, please contact Iseko Shirai at solar_energy(a)hyper.cx. Also iEARN teachers have created a wonderful, award-winning project about solar cooking and solar cookers. Tell Rowena Gerber and Yvonne Moyer that “Bill sent you” if you join their project! ;-)

Taima, Bill

I am home now, thinking about my time at the 2007 iEARN Conference and Youth Summit. I wanted to focus this post on some of the people and projects I was fortunate to come in contact with.

I attended a workshop by Brett Pierce, a sixteen year veteran producer with Sesame Street and the Children’s Television Workshop. He has a self-described “Dream job” helping to create and coordinate a “Dream project”called “Panwapa“. Panwapa is a word from the Tshiluba language that means “here on this Earth”. The project will provide the information and resources needed for children to be aware of the wider world. To appreciate similarities over differences among people is what Panwapa is all about. The project will be anchored with a Web site and includes a variety of videos in DVD format and print media for children, planned and created in a way that the children will easily understand, practice and love as they relate to the various muppet characters. Panwapa learning resources will first be available in Arabic, English, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish, with the possibility of other languages being added later, depending on funding.

The DVD tells the story of six Muppet characters who come to build a community on Panwapa Island, a floating island that travels the oceans of the world. Using song, humour and high energy, the Muppet stories are supplemented by films about real kids from Tanzania, France and Guatamala to are beginning to connect to the cultures and languages around them.

The www.panwapa.com Web site is the centrepiece or anchor for the learning. It begins on Panwapa Island which is the gateway to enter into the virtual Panwapa community of kids as hosted by our Muppet characters. Users will be able to develop their own “Me” page, which will include an avatar, home setting and a Panwapa flag that will showcase their chosen favourites from categories such as food, animals and musical instruments. From there, users will be able to travel the wrold from a “satellite perspective,” find other Panwapa Kids, and participate in global treasure hunts and other games that will send them around the world to collect a variety of Panwapa card sets. Pretty great stuff eh?

BTW, the sheep only speak “Baa” and hilarious comic device, but one that I think offers tremendous potential for learning about others languages and cultures.

During the presentation I told Brett that I saw Panwapa as a primer for iEARN. Panwapa’s target audience is ages 4 to 7, just after Sesame Street’s T-A of preschool to age 5. I could see younger kids who have been engaged in the Panwapa world having their minds opened to becoming global thinkers, and then moving on to having the experience of engaging with other youth around the world by doing online collaborative projects with their teachers and fellow students in iEARN. Brett said that he agreed and saw iEARN as a key partner in the Panwapa learning continuum.

www.panwapa.com should be fully functional by October 10th, 2007. Remember, you heard it here first!

Taima, Bill

I must admit, as a fairly coddled Canadian I had a few reservations about coming to the Middle East at this time, so I felt it only fair, and important to share some impressions that I have of my visit to Egypt so far.

First of all, I should preface my remarks by saying the my impressions of Egypt are based primarily on my time in Cairo and environs, which sounds dangerously like judging Canada after only being in Toronto, that being said, here goes…

I spent Thursday night after our first iEARN Assembly meetings walking with three iEARN friends from our hotel along the promenades and bridges that envelope and cross the Nile River. We were told that Thursday night is often a time when people will go out into the streets, children and family elders in tow, to stroll along the Nile, much like the boardwalk in Atlantic City or in the movie “Easter Parade“. How true!

In this massive city of some twenty million souls, cars teem through the streets, more often than not ignoring lane divider lines and using flashing lights and horns in sequences that were much too complicated for mortals less than William Stephenson, the Man Called Intrepid to decipher. BTW, did I mention that Cairo has no traffic lights?!!! If they did, every light of any colour would be interpreted as GO! If fears for my safety should have had some stronger basis in fact, it was surely not from the people, whom I have found to be most kind, generous and welcoming, but rather from the cocophanous ever-surging traffic. I was wondering if a six-foot, two-inch white male would have difficulties in standing out so much in the crowd, but MANY people flashed me smiles and more than a few extended peace signs my way rather than some other digits I thought might be more likely, as we navigated the downtown areas of Cairo. It was only in the tourist areas that I was treated like a dollar sign on legs.

Families walked together, teenagers sat and embraced on benches by the river, vendors roasted nuts and corn over hibachis, women made bread, young boys and old people sold smokes at a “Special Egyptian Price for you!

Many people smoke in Cairo, mostly men it seems. Sucking back on a shisha water pipe and drinking Chai tea are the mainstays of Egyptian social networking sans computer.

We stopped at a cafe on a boat anchored on the Nile and tried an Egyptian beer called “Sakara“. It was VERY tasty indeed! the perfect antidote for a sultry summer evening in Cairo.

So how IS the weather in Cairo in July you might be wondering? Well, hot of course, but it’s a really “DRY HEAT!”;-)

So how does a coddled Canadian cope? (like the alliteration?) Do like the Egyptians of course, because everyone knows that only “Mad Dogs and Englishman GO Out in the Noon-day Sun” Stay out of the Sun during the day, thank goodness for AC, come out, enjoy life and “Walk Like an Egyptian” in the evening, (you just had to know that I was going to use that one didn’t you?!). With the days being so sunny and hot, Egyptians emerge from their homes and really flourish at night.

To try and stay cool, I also thought it would be a fun experience to visit an Egyptian barber for a haircut. I was treated like an (Arab?) prince! Ahmed, my very professional, extremely diligent barber and his family took turns washing my hair twice before he began trimming with GREAT care and precision. The haircut took about an hour, no smalltalk possible, and then finished with a kind of neck massage and a final hair wash, combined with a steady stream of nice cold drinks, all for about $5.00 CDN! I thanked Ahmed and his family with deep appreciation and a handsome tip. My barber back in Cochrane is going to cringe when I tell him about this!;-)

Okay, back to the conference…

We had a meeting of the Canadian teachers attending this year’s iEARN conference. We used the time to get to know one another a little better. We had nearly twenty attend, which is our largest contingent ever! During past conferences, I can often remember being the only Canadian there. This conference represents a wonderful step forward for us. Perhaps next year we can also have Canadian students attend the Youth Summit?

We enjoyed a brief visit from Losira Okelo. Losira formally is connected to iEARN-USA as Director of Online Professional Development, but Losira is currently living in Montreal, so she an officially adopted iEARN-Canada member! Losira explained that she would be pleased to work with iEARN-Canada to offer help and support to iEARN-Canada teachers if and when called upon.

We also had a personal presentation from Lev, am member of iEARN-Uzbekistan, the host country for 2008 iEARN International Conference and Youth Summit. They shared a wonderful video giving us a special introduction as to what we can expect when we come to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, next July.

After our meeting, we attended various conference sessions. One session was about the brand new, and ever SOOOO cool iEARN Collaboration centre. This new resource, or should I say array of collaboration resources, will have an immediate, and very positive impact on the collaborative projects you and your students do in iEARN. The iEARN Collaboration Centre enables young people to learn with rather than simply about the world. Find project partners quickly. Read 200+ project descriptions and browse student-produced media. If you haven’t logged in recently, please do so as soon as you get a chance and look around.

Donna and Marc Savoie Riding Camels at the Pyramids

I think it appropriate to let you know that the iEARN-Canadian members from New Brunswick have been out doing some serious cultural research. I will close for today with this image (NO Photoshop-editing) of Donna and Marc Savoie expanding their horizons as lifelong global educators!

Yours in friendship, learning and iEARN,

Bill

Cairo Skyline -Old and New Now that the iEARN Assembly meetings are over, the “business” of the19th annual iEARN International Conference and Youth Summit has officially begun. iEARN conferences are really more like family reunions than anything else, with friends and colleagues who have worked closely and collaboratively on various projects with one another online for many weeks or months may finally be meeting in person for the first time. Other scenarios see those who may have first met in person at a previous iEARN conference then follow up by having their respective students create, or participate in existing iEARN projects.

iEARN-Canada Team iEARN’s tradition is to begin the conference with a roll-call of nations. Many conference participants wear clothing that represents their country. I thought about a hockey uniform, but opted for an Inuit anorak that I received during my time teaching and living in the Arctic, most of us either wore or waved the maple leaf. With nearly twenty participants, this is iEARN-Canada’s largest contingent at an iEARN conference.

United Nations Billion Tree Planting Initiatve

Some of us had a chance to plant a tree as a part of the United Nations Billion Tree Initiative. All of the sixty-plus iEARN countries represented at the conference had an opportunity to participate and almost all did.

I had an opportunity to meet a fantastic group of young people who are part of a project called “Dance4Life“. This project is a wonderful example of where the creative energy of youth meets social justice through service learning.

Well, that’s all for now folks, I’ll try and post again when I get another chance.

Taima,

Bill

Cairo_Kites_at_Sunset

The 2007 iEARN International Assembly meetings are well underway here in Cairo. I arrived here on Thursday morning at 1:00 AM via London. I am here representing iEARN-Canada as a member of the iEARN International Assembly, the governing body of iEARN, the International Education and Resource Network. With over one million teacher and student members in over 120 countries since 1988, iEARN is the world’s largest and longest running k-12 professional learning community.

I wanted to share a project with you from Ruty Hotzen, Coordinator for iEARN-Israel, it is called “Talking Kites“. It involves research about the amazing children’s author, pediatrician and thinker Janusz Korczak and the integration of this research and celebration of learning through the creation and flying of kites! if you are interested in participating in this project, please first make sure that you are a registered iEARN member in your country, then you can contact Ruty directly via e-mail.

Beginning tomorrow, July 21st to the 26th, the 2007 iEARN International Conference and Youth Summit will begin here in Cario, hosted by iEARN-Egypt.

Please add me to your blogroll or check back at www.billbelsey.com with further information, photos and updates.

Taima,

Bill