Thursday, January 22, 2015

What the Heck, Why Not, Dream Big

As I write this blog, I am thinking about a post game interview cliche after losing a game such as: “We did our best, but came up short.”  But, the one cliche I really want to focus on is: “We have outstanding players on our team, we will continue to strive for excellence, and we are going to stay the course.”

I recently received notice that Grand Forks Public Schools was not selected as a finalist in the Knight Cities Challenge.  “Thank you for participating in the Knight Cities Challenge. We are writing to let you know that, after careful review, you have not been selected as a finalist.”

Back in November, I submitted an application on behalf of Grand Forks Public Schools for the Knight Cities Challenge.  The Knight Cities Challenge was seeking innovative projects that answered the question: “What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?”
There were just two rules:
  1. Your project must take place in or benefit one or more of the 26 Knight communities. Grand Forks, ND is a Knight community.
  2. Your idea must focus on one or all of three key drivers of city success: attracting and retaining talent, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of robust civic engagement.

I figured, what the heck, why not, dream big.  With the marbles rolling around in my head and considering those who have inspired my thinking through conferences, books, tweets, blog posts and daily interaction with colleagues, I decided to submit a proposal titled “Transforming Student Opportunities and Experiences through Technology.”  Each of the two sections were limited to 150 words.

Project Description:
Imagine a community in which every K-12 student would have access to a personal learning device to not only enhance their individual academic achievement and career opportunities, but also immerse all students into a culture of civic engagement. Through the use of digital devices, a culture of imagination and impact would be instilled, as students would be empowered to connect, create, collaborate and contribute to a world outside of their classroom. Regardless of socio-economic background, equitable access to technology provides endless possibilities for all students. When students have opportunities to find their passion, they are unstoppable and can make amazing things happen. Can our students change our community and the world?  Why not?  You may say I’m a dreamer, but [I KNOW] I’m not the only one.

In the community of Grand Forks, North Dakota, the future lies in the hands of our most precious resource, our children. That is why Grand Forks Public Schools believe technology is an integral component of learning and is necessary to learn effectively, live productively and participate globally in an increasingly digital world. Technology resources transform learning by allowing learners to create, publish, collaborate, participate in open online courses and communicate with others in a global environment. Technology helps learners gather and analyze information, solve problems and develop higher-level thinking skills through authentic real-world experiences. Technology can make the impossible possible for every one of our students in Grand Forks. Our students, through the use of technology, have the opportunity to transform our community and the world in which we live. “Never doubt that of thoughtful, committed [educators and students] can change the world” - Margaret Mead.

I am fortunate to be surrounded with forward-thinking people; from the Grand Forks Public Schools Curriculum Technology Partners, to my professional learning networks of #gfedchat, #ndedchat, and beyond.

We would have been thrilled to receive some funding to move our 1:1 personal student learning device initiative along, but it does not alter the vision of all students having a device to learn and change the world. Going back to this cliche: “We have outstanding players on our team, we will continue to strive for excellence, and we are going to stay the course” because we firmly believe in our vision.

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