Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bombing in Kenya

On Monday, May 28th an explosion rocked downtown Nairobi, Kenya, injuring around 30 people.  The news of this event brings back memories of the few times I've been to Nairobi as well as memories of the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Nairobi back in 1998 (in conjunction with similar attack of U.S. embassy in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

A variety of international articles on the attacks in Nairobi:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

National Geography Bee

From my perspective, the 2012 National Geography Bee held on March 24th depicts two significant reasons for why global education and the efforts of programs such as Teachers for Global Classrooms are imperative.

Reason One: View the video clip of President Obama as he presented one of the questions to the Geography Bee's contestants.  His pre-question comments give a great capstone on the importance of global education.

"The study of geography is about more than just memorizing places on a map.
It's about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity
of cultures that exists across continents. And in the end, it's about using all that
knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together."--President Obama

Reason Two: View the video clip of the final question being presented to the two finalists.  The ethnicity of these two young men (as well as those shown of other contestants within the video clip with President Obama) help to show that the understanding of cultures necessary for international relations is also important to the ever changing demographics within our own country.

As we roam the roads of lands remote, let's try to learn more about the diversity of the peoples we meet.  Not for some trite exercise in "multiculturalism", but rather so as to learn how to productively interact with others who have arrived at our mutual meeting point via their own remote road.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Westbrook = Remote Road Roamer

In my AP United States History classes I try to teach my students about "historiography".  Simply put, this fancy word describes the efforts of historians to play "connect the dots" with the facts from the past so as to help complete the picture of what "happened."  Here's a sample of some of my own recent "historiography":

FACT ONE: On March 8, 2012, I posted an entry on this blog titled "Holi Moli" in which I described a little bit about the Hindu holiday of Holi and how my AP Human Geography class participated in "celebrating" this day.  My entry included an image of my "Holi shirt" which we created.

FACT TWO: On May 16, 2012, The Oklahoman (daily paper in central Oklahoma) ran an article describing my upcoming TGC trip to Indonesia.  The article, in both the print and online versions, included a link to this very blog.

FACT THREE: On May 16, 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder was involved in playing game two of the NBA playoff series with the Los Angles Lakers.  Game two was in Oklahoma City and, thus, the Thunder's team members were in town and would have had easy access to the Wednesday issue (in print or online) of The Oklahoman.

FACT FOUR: On May 19, 2012, following the Thunder's 103-100 defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers in game four of the series, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder arrived at a press conference sporting a splatter paint shirt.

So, the "historiography"?  It must be easy to connect the dots of the above facts.  Russel Westbrook obviously reads The Oklahoman on a regular basis.  During his perusal of the paper on May 16 he must have read the article about my trip and then spent much of the morning reading through this blog.  While reading the blog he was dumbstruck with the "Holi Moli" entry and thought "that guy looks great in that shirt".  Thus, he went out and purchased a shirt inspired by my look.  Westbrook then proceeded to wear his Holi and Burton inspired look during the LA based press conference on May 19.  It is such an honor to have Russell Westbrook as a fellow roamer of remote roads!

Don't believe me?  Check it out...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Local News Article

So my trip to Indonesia with Teachers for Global Classrooms made news today!  Vallery Brown with The Oklahoman interviewed me yesterday and provided a great write up today.  Here's the link to the article: http://newsok.com/southmoore-teacher-to-travel-abroad-share-experiences/article/3675964.

Indonesia Not Gaga for this Lady

Despite having sold-out of the 50,000 tickets available, a June 3rd concert in Indonesia by American musician Lady Gaga appears to be doomed.  See the details of the story as being reported by a variety of global news outlets:
One of the great ways of following remote roads is to follow the "familiar" but from a variety of perspectives.  I'm not in anyway suggesting that I am overly familiar with Lady Gaga or her music (although Southmoore's marching band has played an arrangement of "Bad Romance"), I just am familiar with the fact that she is a current icon of American pop culture music and has become the subject of international attention (for good or bad).  Explore what others throughout the world have to say on a topic of interest to you...a simple and yet remote road which can be explored using technology within your grasp.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Visiting Elementary Students

During my planning period and lunch time today I had the great pleasure of going to Briarwood Elementary School and visiting with their 4th and 6th graders about my upcoming trip to Indonesia.  They were such great listeners and asked so many wonderful questions!  They and their teachers, Amy Chase and Theresa Mosier, along with Carol Schmidt and her 5th graders, are going to help write postcards for me to take to students in Indonesia this summer.

Additionally, Kerri Guarnera is coordinating another large group of 4th, 5th, and 6th students in writing postcards at Oakridge Elementary School.  I am so excited that the Briarwood Bears and the Oakridge SaberCubs (nearly all of which will eventually be Southmoore SaberCats) are helping to share the experiences of their lives in Oklahoma with students in a distant land.  Hopefully I can have some students  in Indonesia compose postcards to bring back when I return.

The pictures below are from the PowerPoint presentation I used during our time together.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Postcard Palooza

After having heard of other teachers in my TGC program who have taken messages written on postcards from their students here in the U.S. to the students in their host countries, I've decided to do the same.  One thing I've learned...it's not as easy as you'd think to find postcards.  Drug stores like Walgreen's and CVS no longer carry them, Target doesn't have them, most local gas stations (even the travel-ones like Loves) have stopped or significantly limited their supplies.  So, I give in and make the rounds to some of the local history museums knowing I'll have to pay "high dollar"...and then magic happens.  The Oklahoma History Center's gift shop had a whole display of "clearance" postcards at only TEN CENTS each.  I bought a bunch.

Following this find, I was able to confirm that two of Southmoore's "feeder" elementary schools were willing to have their elementary kids join my high school kids in writing messages about life here in Oklahoma to their peers in Indonesia.  This is awesome.  The only "hiccup" was that I need another 350 postcards.  Luckily the OHC still had plenty on clearance and I left with a car load (slight exaggeration).  So, pictured above is a sample of the cards I have.  I'm excited for these local students to join in the efforts of building bridges with students in another country.

Let the Postcard Palooza begin.  And with this process, perhaps some young minds will be interested in roaming the remote roads!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Calling All Students!

One of the goals of the Teachers for Global Classrooms program is to get my students virtually involved within my trip to Indonesia.  Those TGC teachers who have already traveled to Ghana, Morocco, and Ukraine have had students interacting with their blogs, posting comments, responding to questions from students in the other country (questions and answers appearing in text and video formats), etc.  This has worked "well" for these 30+ teachers in that their trips were during the school year and they were able to recruit participation from their students in person up until the day before their departures.  This is not the same for most of those in the Brazil cohort or for any of those in the India and Indonesia cohorts; our trips are in June and July.

So we have to be more creative in our recruitment strategies and try to entice student participation before the current school year is over.  To help build some interest among the students I will have next year I have already prepared and sent the letter below to those who have pre-enrolled in my AP Human Geography course for next year.  If I can get them interested and even participating now, then I hope they will be actively involved while I am in Indonesia during the second half of July.  It will also enhance class discussions next year when we can relate topics in class to experiences from the trip.  By being active participants in this adventure, they will be able to be virtual roamers of remote roads!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Then Shall Live

Tonight I attended a concert by the Gaither Vocal Band at my church.  One of the songs, while religious in nature, had a verse which I believe speaks to what can happen in our lives when we truly allow ourselves to be open to roaming the remote roads of life and have engaging encounters with the diverse people which we meet.  So with that, here is one of the verses to the song "I Then Shall Live":

I then shall live as one whose learned compasion.
I've been so loved, that I'll risk loving too.
I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;
I'll dare to see another's point of view.
And when relationships demand committment
Then I'll be there to care and follow through.

Just try to image a world in which we are open-minded enough that we allow our interactions with other peoples, including those from backgrounds and homelands significantly different than our own, to have this caliber of an encounter.