Teachers Teaching Refugee Children via Skype with Koen Timmers

Episode 132 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Koen Timmers @zelfstudie is a teacher in Belgium. He has founded the Kakuma project where teachers are helping teach in refugee camp via Skype. In today’s show, he talks about this project and his Human Differences project. This top 50 global teacher prize winner is inspiring.

project kakuma

Today’s sponsor is Kids Discover. They’re doing awesome things to drive inquiry based learning. The Kids Discover online platform lets students enter discovery mode. This fun, visual tool lets students explore 150 different science and social studies units for elementary and middle school learners. And while they can explore a wide variety of topics from the US Constitution to Ecology and Ancient China, I also like that you can assign these nonfiction texts at three different lexiles to supplement what you’re doing in the classroom. Go to coolcatteacher.com/discover and get started for free. They support single sign-on with Google and Clever.

Listen Now

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Below is a transcript modified for your reading pleasure. For information on the guests and items mentioned in this show, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

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Transcript for Episode 132 

Teachers Teaching Refugee Children via Skype with Koen Timmers

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e132
Download the Transcript: Episode 32 Transcript
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Human Differences Project

Vicki: So, I’m here at the National State Teachers of the Year Conference here in D.C., and a friend of mine, Joe Fatheree @josephfatheree, who is a Global Teacher Prize Finalist, told me about this amazing person, Koen Timmers @zelfstudie, who is a teacher from Belgium, who’s a Top 50 Global Teacher Prize Finalist recently.

Now, Koen, you’re real big on collaboration. Could you describe for us one of the examples of the projects that you’ve done collaboratively?

Koen: Yeah. So, one project I’ve been running is the Human Differences Project. That was about two months ago, and that project is about collaboration on a global scale. In this project, we had fifty different schools over thirty-seven countries across six continents who participated. And it was a student-centered project, so the students had to do all the research, the thinking, discussion, brainstorming. They had to present and share their findings during each week about several topics.

This project was basically about, “How are people different in their own classroom, in their own country? Why do countries decide to build walls? How do conflicts start?” And also about finding solutions, like how to build bridges instead of walls. And we also did an anti-bullying campaign and also about gender equality. And the students? Well, they really amazed us. Some of the students, they began to dance. They went to interview people on the street. The Nigerians students, they even composed their own song. The students from Egypt, they even came to school during holidays, so we had some pretty amazing outcomes during the project.

How did you connect with the other schools?

Vicki: Wow. So how did you connect with the fifty schools?

Koen: Yeah. So, I’m also an MIE –that’s a Microsoft Expert Educator – and that’s a wonderful community of about 3,000 different educators. And once you’re in the community, it’s pretty easy to set up global projects, actually. It took me a few days to find about fifty different schools over a lot of countries that were willing to participate.

Project Kakuma and teaching refugees via Skype

Vicki: Now you also have another project, Project Kakuma. Tell us a little about that.

Koen: Yeah. So, two years ago I had a very emotional skype call with Moses. Moses is an outreach assistant in the Kakuma refugee camp, and this refugee camp houses 200,000 refugees who fled from war and hunger in Sudan, Burundi, Somalia, etc. And I promised to help him increase the level of education in the camp by having regular Skype calls with them – with refugee kids, actually. During my first call with them, I realized that I was kind of naïve, thinking that having a Skype call with the refugees was going to be like having a Skype call with my friends and family. They told me that they have very little resources in the school. They have 30 schools, and each classroom houses up to 200 refugees.

So, imagine 175 students taking a look at one laptop screen while I’m teaching them. But, apart from that fact, the project became an instant success. They requested skype lessons on a daily basis, and so I had to find global educators willing to participate. And, at this moment, 100 educators from around 40 different countries are participating. They are teaching them on a daily basis.

Project Kakuma

How teachers can help

Vicki: So how can we help?

Koen: Well, basically, you can support the project by also volunteering to teach the refugees. We have a lot of teachers from the U.S. and from Asia. All continents, basically.

Vicki: You have a website or a place we can go to volunteer?

Koen: Yeah… projectkakuma.com

Vicki: It just amazes me what you’re doing. So, they’re teaching a variety of subjects?

Koen: Yeah.

Vicki: Many different topics?

Koen: We are teaching them maths, science, English, even art. Most people, they really love the fact that we are offering free knowledge and we are teaching them. But basically, we also bring empathy into the global classrooms. Most people forget about the students involved from all kinds of different countries, who are now offered the right perspective into what it’s like to be a refugee. But also, they talk about habits, religion, culture, about sport. They basically have fun. And so, we fight against misinformation, against polarization, and yeah… That’s also very valuable, I think.

The biggest mistake teachers make when trying to collaborate

Vicki: As you’ve collaborated – because you’ve done a lot of collaboration now – what do you think the biggest mistake that you’ve made with collaborating in the classroom is?

Koen: Well… Don’t overdo it.

Vicki: (laughs) Been there. Wish I hadn’t. (laughs)

Koen: Most people, when you advocate or you present about collaboration, they think it’s all about collaboration. They forget to instruct. Because collaboration takes a lot of time, and I think you need to shift between every approach. Sometimes you need to instruct your students. Sometimes you need to shift to flipped learning. Then you have to collaborate. And then you have to do learning by doing in maker space… So I guess that a teacher as a pedagogical engineer who decides which approach is the best at that time, for that subject, for that topic, etc.

Vicki: I love that… “pedagogical engineer”… That’s a great way to think about teachers, isn’t it?

Koen: Yeah, I think so. Yeah.

The CARE! Model of Teaching

Vicki: Yeah. Awesome. So, you have a CARE! model.

Koen: So I think that teachers have the responsibility to do different things, and it’s not only about offering knowledge. It’s about also… The “C” from CARE! is about collaboration, but it’s also about guiding. (ADVISING) In most cases when students graduate, there’s a large gap for them. I think teachers also have to make sure how they can keep on learning – the lifelong learning concept, that’s it. In my case, I don’t want my students to be limited to my knowledge as well. I want them to learn from each other, but also from experts on social media, from their friends. We have to point them in the right direction and teach them that not every resource is a reliable. We have to fight against fake news as well. Yeah. I think that’s also the duty of the teacher. Yeah. Not only offering knowledge, and that’s it. Instructing in that sense.

Vicki: So give us the “R” and the “E” and the exclamation point for CARE!.

Koen:  So in the CARE the “R” is for real problem solving. Well, I believe in project-based learning, and in many cases — and I didn’t mention this before, but I’m a computer science teacher – and in most cases, people teach about the computer. I think we need meaningful subjects, and we need real problems to solve. You can use a computer for data as well. I already explained about the “E” — the empathy. The explanation point is that most frameworks, most people who talk about their framework, think that it fits in every case and every scenario. And I think it doesn’t. We all teach different subjects, different ages, and in different schools. They all have different financial resources, so I think in some cases, blended learning works. And in some cases, teachers have to fill the gap themselves, and they have to figure out what their students basically need, I think.

Vicki: Teachers, we’ve learned some remarkable things. Please check the Shownotes for links. I know and hope that some of you will help teach the refugees with Project Kakuma. Please let me know if you do, because I think this is a project worth following. And it’s also – can you think of a better way to spend our time volunteering and helping? So, Koen Timmers, thank you so much for being on, and thank you for your leadership on the worldwide stage that you now have.

Koen: Thank you so much.

 

Full Bio As Submitted


Koen TimmersKoen Timmers

Koen Timmers is an educator, author and keynote speaker. He’s a 2017 Global Teacher Prize top 50 and founder of an online school Zelfstudie.be. He’s passionate about collaborative and technology enhanced learning. Koen founded several global educational project including the Kakuma project – in which 100 educators over 40 countries offer free education to African refugees via Skype – and the Human Differences project – in which 50 schools across 6 continents focus on how to build bridges instead of walls.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Teachers Teaching Refugee Children via Skype with Koen Timmers appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog
http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e132/

This Amazing South Bronx School Grows 50,000 Pounds of Vegetables a Year

Episode 131 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Stephen Ritz @StephenRitz grows 50,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx. As founder of the Green Bronx Machine, his students grow plants while learning more and going onto college. Exciting!

Today’s sponsor is Kids Discover. They’re doing awesome things to drive inquiry based learning. The Kids Discover online platform lets students enter discovery mode. This fun, visual tool lets students explore 150 different science and social studies units for elementary and middle school learners. And while they can explore a wide variety of topics from the US Constitution to Ecology and Ancient China, I also like that you can assign these nonfiction texts at three different lexiles to supplement what you’re doing in the classroom. Go to coolcatteacher.com/discover and get started for free. They support single sign-on with Google and Clever.

Listen Now

//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5658640/height/90/width/640/theme/custom/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/autoplay/no/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/2d568f/

Below is a transcript modified for your reading pleasure. For information on the guests and items mentioned in this show, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

The Power of a Plant Book Giveaway Contest
https://js.gleam.io/e.js

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Enhanced Transcript for Episode 131

The Power of a Plant with Stephen Ritz

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e131
Transcript: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/131-transcript-Stephen-Ritz-KM1.pdf
Monday, August 21, 2017

50,000 pounds of Vegetables in the South Bronx

Vicki: Stephen Ritz @StephenRitz is with us today, a finalist from the 2015 Global Teacher Prize, and just a very excited amazing person who really has a green classroom. So, Stephen, describe for us what you’ve done in your classroom.

Stephan: Well, in the poorest Congressional district in the America in the least healthy county of all of New York state, in the largest stretch of public housing, in a 100+ year old building, we are growing food! And I mean tons of it. Fifty thousand pounds of vegetables! And fifty thousand pounds of vegetables later, my favorite crop is organically grown citizens. Grant you, it’s members of the middle class, it’s kids who are going to college.

But I took the money from the Global Teacher Prize and created this National Health Wellness and Learning Center, which is a state of the art facility, four stories up in a walk-up building, mind you, where we grow food, we cook, we have integrated science labs.

Stephen Ritz and his students are gardening and growing food for their school and neighborhood.

It is net positive on food and energy. We have bicycle-powered blenders. We have a Green Bronx Machine mobile classroom kitchen. We have solar generators, bicycle blenders, bicycle-powered kitchens, a TV studio. And it’s all low-cost, replicable, and of course, there are our incredible tower gardens where we are growing food in a food-insecure community using 90% less water, 90% less space, and sending home 100 bags of groceries per week. Aligns to content area, instruction, and Common Core Next Generation Science Standards.

What can any teacher do to add sustainable practices to their school?

Vicki: Wow! Now you have a book called The Power of a Plant which is going to help our teachers who are completely overwhelmed and have their jaw on the floor be able to do this, because is there something that an average everyday teacher can do, because it seems like so much!

Stephan: Well, nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something. That is the mantra and the premise behind my book, The Power of a Plant: A Teacher’s Odyssey to Grow Healthy Minds and Schools.

I literally realized six years ago I was over 300 pounds myself, so The Power of a Plant really talks about so many things, but getting specifically to the book – the book will make you laugh, the book will make you cry. Realize I started teaching in 1984 when New York City, the South Bronx was in shambles and burnt to a crisp. So it highlights my odyssey, if you will, across pedagogy, across scaling, across dealing with administration, about dealing with your own personal tragedies and conflicts and challenges within the teaching profession. So it’s 100% inspiration, 100% perspiration, but it is a blueprint.

It also has a growing guide, all kinds of suggested tools. It has letters from students, letters from teachers, 45 luminaries have blurbed the book. Really, it’s designed for one thing – to help you make epic happen in your personal life, in your professional life, and in every single community you serve.

So. as we like to say in the South Bronx, “Si, se puede!” or “Yes, we can!” If I can, you can. That’s the purpose of this book, The Power of a Plant. In fact, it comes with a double-your-money-back guarantee. If you buy the book and don’t like it, I’ll buy it back for twice the price. All the proceeds are being donated to public education, so this is an opportunity for all of us to pay it forward and celebrate the profession that we all know and love.

What is a day in the life of a student at Stephen’s school like?

Vicki: Love it! OK, Stephen, could you take me through what a day of students that you work with, what they’ll do in a day with you?

Aeroponic methods help students grow plants indoors. Units are taught and integrated with the plants that grow alongside student’s growing minds.

Stephan: So, we believe – that’s a great question – we believe that the art and science of growing vegetables aligned to content area instruction grows healthy students, healthy schools, and high-performing resilient communities.

So, in the course of a day, you will come into this lab, where it’s 25 periods of weekly classroom instruction. Before school, lunchtime, after school and weekend programming. And you will get thematic science programming, aligned to Next Generation Science Standards. We do all the ratio, proportions, statistics and measuring aligned to seed propagation, so we touch on math. We touch on literacy, making prediction, doing measurements, if-then conditional statements, the whole art of ordinal direction, of prediction. Then we do a whole lot of science, we do a whole lot of cooking. Then this classroom is aligned to 25 periods of in class content area instruction.

So we believe that the art and science of growing vegetables and taking a garden and putting it at the heart of school, in a classroom, indoors, is not a band-aid so to speak but is a whole school solution. We are not an add on. We are a whole school program that really teaches children in food-insecure communities how to grow food, get the parents involved, brings parents in and aligns it.

Believe it or not, next week we are meeting with the State University of New York to create K-20 programming! Because the one thing about food and plants is that without all of it, we’d all be naked and hungry, and that’s not a thought that looks good on radio or sounds good either.

How do you have time to garden and teach school?

Vicki: (laughs) OK. So I’m a farmer’s daughter. I grew up on a farm. I’m trying to figure out when do the kids work in the garden? Growing plants is actually very hard work, as you know.

Stephan: Well, we have an indoor garden and an outdoor garden. So the outdoor garden is done after school, and not that I am anti-soil, I’m actually pro-soil and pro-garden-time but I’m actually very pro-instructional-time.

During the school day, our plants, our garden is indoors using aeroponic systems known as a tower garden, where the plants are literally growing themselves. The only thing that’s not happening is that they don’t take care of themselves, so the children take care of them, but no school uniforms are ruined, I have reading plant programs, I have leaf monitors, I have Ph patrols, you name it. Kids taking care of plants can document, collecting data, aggregating data, they’re talking about it, discussing it.

And we grew tremendous volumes of food, so deciding what we’re going to do with that food, what we’re going to do with the profits that we sell. Those are the kinds of collegial and professional conversations that really dictate a productive and proactive healthy school culture and climate.

And, it’s being evidenced in our test scores, our school report card, our teacher retention, our teacher satisfaction, our ability to attract new young dynamic teachers who LOVE coming to school in this state of the art facility.

And that’s what we do, so kids are in here literally from about 7:00 in the morning — another set will be coming in here soon – until 7:00 at night. We have about anywhere on any given day, 50-100 kids showing up after school in one of the most productive soil gardens in all of New York City — in the heart of a housing project, I might add – and we do cooking programs, TV shows.

We have our Green Bronx Machine (mobile kitchen) which is a state of the art food truck on wheels for a fraction of the cost which goes classroom to classroom. So it’s not only teaching kids to HAVE food, it’s teaching them what to do with it, giving parents access to it, giving grandparents access to it, and flooding our community with a whole new set of options aligned to help, wellness, and 21st Century college and career readiness.

Stephen’s 30-second Pep Talk for Every Teacher

Vicki: You’ve given us so much. It’s so very exciting. Could you give us a 30-second pep talk to every teacher out there listening about what they can do today?

Stephan: The secret sauce to all of my success is three things – passion, purpose and hope. And I believe that passion, purpose and hope will get you close. And sometimes you just need to take that endless leap of faith to get to the finish line. But teachers, don’t be afraid to fail. If anyone has perfected failing in life, it is me. But I have some hard buttocks, I bounce up quickly, and I keep falling up the ladder of success, saying “Please,” and “Thank you, and “Have a nice day,” and “How can we work to make things better?” And that’s what this is all about, growing the next generation of healthy students, healthy teachers, healthy schools, and healthy communities.

Vicki: Well, teachers. What we’ve heard is truly remarkable. Please go to the Shownotes. We’re giving away a book, The Power of a Plant. I’ve known Stephen for quite some time, and he always amazes me with how much he’s doing and how much we all need to be doing to be going green in our schools.

Full Bio As Submitted


Stephen Ritz

Stephen Ritz, Founder of Green Bronx Machine, Top Ten Global Teacher Prize Finalist, one of NPR’s 50 Greatest Teachers and BAMMY Laureate – Elementary Educator of the Year is a South Bronx educator who believes that children should not have to leave their neighborhood to live, learn and earn in a better one.

Stephen and his students have grown more than 50,000 pounds of vegetables, indoors, farming their way to the White House and back, using 90% less water and space, en route to outstanding personal and school performance which is highlighted in his new book via Rodale: The Power of A Plant with co-author Suzie Boss. To learn more about Stephen’s revolutionary program, see this powerful new two-minute video via Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post This Amazing South Bronx School Grows 50,000 Pounds of Vegetables a Year appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog
http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e131/