For the first time in my teaching history, school was cancelled due to impending dangers – high fire risk due to strong winds. It was Monday afternoon, and my double virtual classroom session in elluminate, Ping, with Ajax and the cellist, Rohan from the Melbourne Symphony orchestra had just completed the session. Each week, we logon on quicker, have fewer technical issues etc. Students are becoming accustomed to the routine. Rohan was a particularly vibrant demonstrator with a great sense of humour. I started to hear noise, and realised a student was humming along with the compostition he was playing. The demonstration session was nearly finished when our principal walked in with a wad of yellow printed forms.
He quietly told me that this was a vital document, to be given to each student and that students MUST take it home and give to their parents, as there was no school tomorrow and possibly the next day. Students had their headphones on so did not hear those instructions. Joseph, our artist in residence, outlined to the students the practical element at the end of the first session. The bell rang and rather than disturb the class now, students continued on. Ten minutes into the lesson, an announcement asked for any students who had not been given a yellow form to come immediately to the office. 28 year 7 students proceed to go out the door, so I stopped them and gave them the sheet. Well, that did upset the class – or should I say, made them extremely happy. After 10 mins of settling them, they finally went back to composing their musical stories.
One boy came to me with his mobile phone and said he had just received a message from the police about high fire dangers! I had not heard of that either and asked how he got that, but he could not answer that either. Due to the late notification, there was no opportunity to catch up with my senior students to give them work to do at home.
Today started out quite pleasantly and in fact some light rain had fallen, but by mid morning, the wind picked up and blew gales around 100km/hour. Dust blew, trees fell down in our driveway and outdoor furniture started to fly. My mother in law who is 89 years old has never seen such dust storms in her life. I had mulched my garden with newspaper and straw to keep the weeds down but that blew everywhere. See the movie clip of how it looked at home. By mid afternoon a fire had broken out 10 mins down the road, so our local fire tanker was called to fight the fire. Many trucks turned up and it was put out fairly quickly.
So….. today, a day of no school was to be a catch up day or so I thought. First I checked out twitter, which is blocked at school and read this tweet
Then I noticed another tweet inviting interest persons to test out tiny chat. So, an interesting discussion ensued with American teachers as to how this could be used in the classroom.
However, as I was online for a good part of the day, I received skpye calls and chats from my global colleagues. Jeff Whipple was one, enquiring whether our school would be interested in participating in the 1001 tales for either the elementary of middle school. The amazing part is that grade 5 classes in Qatar need partners. So, when I enquired further, I discovered that I had stayed with one of the teachers when at the flatclassroom conference and had met the other. It certainly is becoming a flat world. So finding our literacy teacher online, I asked whether she would be interested in being involved and she has agreed. Last year I organized it and was the contact person but as I do not teach primary year levels this year, the ownership is much better going to the classroom teacher.
In the afternoon, I settled down to catch up on emails etc, when I started to find my students emailing me, leaving comments on the ning and g-talking to me, wondering what they needed to do as they were missing out on class time at school. So, school was on after all. This is the fantastic nature of web2.0 tools, connectedness and an online environment. School can be 24/7/365.
Here are some reactions from my twitter friends