Flat Classroom Conference 2013


On Tuesday 23rd of July I finally met Julie Lindsay at Kapiolani park. I had come especially to Hawaii to attend the Flat Classroom Conference 2013 held at Punahou School.
The theme for the conference was ‘Thinking globally but acting local = glocalisation. The challenge was to create a pitch, work collaboratively to come up with a video product that is embedded on our team’s wiki page.
We were provided with the opportunity of visiting the Omidyar Kindergarten and First Grade Neighbourhood part of the school for ages 4- 6 years olds. I was blown away by the design of the rooms and by the amount of equipment each class had access to. As can be expected, the children were not in school but teachers were around preparing for the new year. I since found out that Pierre Omidyeawas a past pupil of Puhanou School. Omidyea was the founder of ebay. Other past pupils to note include Barack Obama and Nainoa Thompson. There are many others and many past students have gone on to be leaders in a variety of fields.
The Flat Classroom conference was a lot of fun and was more than what I expected. There were 9 countries represented and 40 schools from around the world. We were given the opportunity of working with educators on a global project. I was part of team 2 and we called ourselves Heat 2 Heart Team.
First of all we needed to develop a pitch for a global project. Then we presented this to the students and they gave us feedback. Students did the same thing and presented back to the teachers for feedback. After that we created a visual presentation of our pitch and embed this onto our wiki.
We began with 8 teacher teams but by the end of the second day it was down to just our team. So we had the opportunity of developing a video. There were 6x members on our team and this included Anitawho was an expert at video editing using imovie, Bill who had some really great ideas, Ryan who kept the memories by taking heaps of photos and movies, Hui-Mei who was an expert with podcasting and quickly whipped up our audios and myself with strengths in wikis. In and out we also had Maria who provided some administrative angles and Kumu Tai, who joined us later and gave us the Hawaiian perspective. We were encouraged not to rely on google because this was still blocked in many countries. So using google docs, google presentations etc had to be adapted. Therefore we used slideshare and wikis. Padlet and etherpad was a little clunky on the ipad.
On the final day, the students’ presentations were stunning. I felt proud of our team that we completed our product but the work of the students really blew me away. They had some great ideas. The theme coming strongly from the students was their awareness about sustainability. Remaining students created a sharing of their cultures and this was a lot of fun to watch.
I took away from the conference the idea that we can create some stunning global projects but working together is the real gift of global projects.
I enjoyed my group immensely and by the end I wished I had booked some extra time to stay in Hawaii. I have created an #fclive group on Google for my team to keep in contact and I hope that we do carry through meeting up together and even doing something together online.
I also was able to meet other teachers such as Vicky Davies,  Teresa Allen and Frank Guttler who came in as part of the Flat Classroom Team. All are stunning global educators too. I also met Emily McCarren who was coordinating the event for Punahou School. Other interesting people I met was Kumu Tai and Kumu Malia. Both celebrate the Hawaiian language and culture at Punahou School.
In Punahou school they collected rain water in bioswales for watering their beautiful gardens. They provide the children with the chance of growing their own food gardens, classrooms used photovoltaic solar panels to collect energy for lighting and the use of skylights was evident. I didn’t see paper used as much as how we use paper and one of the teachers said that most stuff is created digitally. The mountain behind the school is known as U’uonamoa and blocked the rivers. Legends share that when the Hala Tree was pulled up a new spring appeared.
The Flat Classroom conference ran over three days and each day there was a lot of educator learning. The best part was making connections and collaborating with a group of passionate educators and seeing what happens when we all work together.

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