Friday, December 02, 2011




The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way

A couple of months ago, I sent out a blog post looking for classrooms that wanted to participate in our This I Believe Goes Global project.  We had more responses this year than any other matching up classes from Poland, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, South Korea and all over the United States.

As Karl and I were sorting through the responses. We notice one response from a teacher named Jeff Boyce.  About three years ago, we had a teacher named Jeff Boyce here at AHS.  Karl and I wondered if this was the same Jeff Boyce.  So, after an email exchange, we discovered it was a former colleague now teaching in South Korea.  Serendipity #1

My all boys' class was matched up with Jeff's class in South Korea at the Korea International School.  I knew that my all boys' class was going to be writing their "This I Believe" essays on something important to them, something they strongly valued.  Jeff let me know early on that his class was going to be writing their essays with a slight twist to the assignment: "I Believe in Evolution...".   To help you understand his requirements for their essays, Jeff is a science teacher, thus they were going to be writing about evolution.  Serendipity #2

Now, to make this collaboration even more interesting, my all boys' class is currently reading Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee's Inherit the Wind, a play based upon the Scopes Monkey trial of 1925 and the teaching of the theory of evolution in a fundamentalist Christian town. Serendipity #3

To prepare for our reading of Inherit the Wind, and help my all boys' class understand what John Scopes and Bertram Cates were facing with teaching the theory of evolution, I brought in one of our own biology teachers, Adam Wallace, to talk to the gentlemen about what it is like to be a modern day biology teacher and the theory of evolution.  Serendipity #4

A few weeks ago, after Jeff and I figured out the logistics of our timelines, I asked Jeff if it was possible for him and his class to Skype into our class here at AHS.  I didn't know upon asking him what the time difference was between Seoul and Littleton, CO.  Jeff talked to his kids. They were all willing to stay up till 1 am their time in order to Skype into our class.  We planned 1-1 connections with a kid from Seoul to a kid in my class.  Serendipity #5 (more forced Serendipity, but it goes with the theme of this post)

I talked with Karl about whether this would be possible with our EEE's and their built in web-cam. He assured me we could do it, we just needed to test out the Skype feature since Skype and the built in webcams  hadn't been used before. We practiced in class with one another everything seemingly looking splendid.  Then came the test call...

Jeff and I decided we should do a practice call before the big day.  Wednesday he had a group of kids call into my class first to me on the teacher computer and then to each of the kids they were assigned to.  The calls to me were flawless with our wireless system.  However, problems arose with the calls to the individual students in class.  We could hear and see the kids in South Korea perfectly, but they could only see us, there was no sound!  Oh no...

So, I asked some of my kids to go and get Karl to assist with our technical difficulties. Some of my boys have Karl as their math teacher and relayed to me that he had a family emergency and would be gone the rest of the week.  OH NO....

I sent off a couple of emails to our district personnel to seek out some help.  Later that day, after I had chewed my fingernails down to the nubbins and aged myself another 10 years, I got an email back from Rody Smith.  Rody brought over two other district tech folks to help me solve my problem with the sound.

At 7:30 am Thursday morning, after being told what I wanted to do wasn't possible, somehow the thoughts shifted to make the impossible possible.  Mark Lindstone, Randy Stall, and my favorite Rody Smith figured out a solution to the problem. Rody imaged a brand new set of EEE's for my gentlemen. Our library lent us enough USB headsets for each kid to have their own. Additionally, Rody delivered the brand new EEEs to AHS, helped me set up the classroom with a wired switch for all 24 netbooks (we decided to move from wireless one to one connections to wired connections), and managed to help me facilitate the day today.  Serendipity #6

I relayed all the events of Thursday morning to my all boys' class during our class time on Thursday managing to break into tears in front of them.  I stressed to them the importance of what we were about to do on Friday, the opportunity that this presented to them as men, as learners and as agents of change. The pressure was on! Since it is an all boys' class, I reminded them that this was like preparing for game day. We needed to prepare ourselves for the challenges but then also embrace the opportunities as well.

And how did it go? It was awesome- we even had cookies and juice thanks to one of our moms.  The kids connected both technologically and literally. They didn't stop talking until I told them that we needed to start wrapping up things. The discussed their essays, their lives, their schools, their interests, and their beliefs. They changed the world by getting to know one another, by shaping one another's understandings and learnings. I couldn't stop smiling and neither could the kids. The kids started talking one to one, and before I knew it, they were moving around the room talking to all the other South Korean students. What a fantastic day. What a fantastic learning opportunity. We couldn't have done this without the help of Jeff Boyce, the students in South Korea, Rody Smith ( my all boys class voted him as President for all his hard work), Mark Lindstone, Tracy Murphy, Karla Brachtenbach, Mr. Booth, Karl and of course my gentlemen.  Serendipity #7 (which just happens to be my favorite number).

Here are some more pictures of the day...

Test call on Wednesday
Jeff Boyce and I excited to listen to what was happening in class

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