As much as I love getting to work with students and teachers on exciting projects every day, I think my favorite part about my job is something I like to call the “snowball effect” (I just made that up right now).

I’m talking about the moment when you (as the facilitator) realize that the teacher(s) you have been working with has really embraced 21st century literacy in their classroom, that they have become completely independent with their first new tool, started working successfully with a second new tool, and are anxious to move on to the next. I just love to see the level of excitement that comes with the confidence to try something new, and the spark of understanding that using these tools are not only more relevant to the kids, but that they can bring a whole new dimension to “classroom” learning.

For example: this past Monday, my first task of the day was to help our awesome grade 5 ESL teacher, Diane Mogngo, record some podcasts with her class for our Earth Day celebrations this week. We started this mini project the week before our Songkran holidays and I was hoping to see an improvement in her students’ oral language after recording and practicing before our big event on Friday.

Diane has been blogging successfully with her students for a few months now and the week before the holidays I helped her add a clustermap to her class blog. When I walked in, the whole class was literally jumping out of their seats with excitement to see how many visitors they had on their blog. And that was just the beginning of the lesson!

We spent the rest of the time on Garage Band discovering how immediately useful and relevant such easy audio recording can be for ESL students (definitely an improvement in their speaking – and after only one week!). By the end of the lesson, Diane was recording and facilitating the class on her own, and already excited to connect with partner classes using the combination of their class blog and their podcasting skills. And thus begins the snowball…

I’m also especially excited to see that several of these snowballing teachers are in the primary grades: Pre-Kindergarten to grade 2. After teaching at the middle school level for seven years, I knew the transition to the lower elementary grades would be the toughest for me, but I’m so excited to see that, with the help of our fantastic teachers, we’re really starting to gain momentum even in those intimidating (for me) lower grades. I’m realizing that there are so many easy ways to bring appropriate and authentic technology into primary age classrooms that really reflect student learning and (bonus!) make the teacher’s job easier.

So, in the interest of sharing and promoting excellent work, here are a few of our amazing teacher snowballs:

There is definitely much more going on at ISB, from Kindergarten VoiceThreads reflecting on their learning about the life cycle of plants, to fourth grade persuasive writing development through the 1001 Tales project, but this is just a short list of teachers who are starting to discover how easy it is to combine a variety of tools in order to create a classroom learning hub. I’m already looking forward to starting even more snowballs tumbling down the hill! 

Snowball image from redjar
Blender image from wrestlingentropy

Tags: 21stcenturylearninghubelementaryclassroomsnowballfacilitatorisb

5 thoughts on “The Snowball Effect

  1. We are also witnessing this ‘snowballing’ effect in our school now, as well. (I call it cyberballing) Staff are working with blogs of their own, establishing class blogs as well as the students having individual blogs. One of our secondary teachers, was asked whether she was interested in embracing web20 but she felt she had missed the boat, was so far out of it that she would never catch up now and had no idea where to start. When asked if she could see a purpose to it, she said ‘yes’ and gave us some wonderful reasons. So Jess and I immediately took her aside and helped her commence her own blog. That same excitement that we see in classes, in other teachers’ faces when they get their first comments, was there to be seen in her…..and she was so surprised at how easy it was. We actually in the process of making a podcast of this incident.

  2. It is exciting to hear about your successes (plural!).
    I am going to pass your post on to some ESL colleagues who are still anxious about “entering the stream,” if you will.
    Keep rockin’ it!

  3. Thing 3

    The article the Snowball Effect explains how contagious the use of a new method of communicating can be. by enlisting the aid of other instructors who bought into the project, a support system was developed. Not wanting to let anybody down, the staff felt obligated to continue involving their students in new projects. This encouraged the students to want to do more in the process learning more than was expected. It turned into a win win program

  4. Anne,

    I would love to hear your podcast when you’re finished! Isn’t it amazing what a little personal attention can do?


    Thanks! Our ESL teachers are always looking for collaborative partners too, if your teachers are interested :)


    Thanks for the summary!

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