Saturday, October 3, 2015

I'll Trade You That

As a salute to Connected Educators' Month, I have an example of the power of "connectedness." If I were not active with Twitter and not a frequent reader of a few blogs, I might have missed making this connection. The AP teachers at Westlake HS can now demonstrate to their students how relevant and important and meaningful their presentations can be to relatives and friends of Vietnam Vets. It's more than just a grade on a finished project.

Twitterdom and Blogs
Do you know the term "six degrees of separation"? Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone is connected in some way to any other person. So the chain of "a friend of a friend" statement can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer. For example my husband's best friend has a sister-in-law whose husband is the brother of my college roommate.

I want to relate a story that blossomed about three years ago. It started with a tweet from Carolyn Foote (@technolibrary), librarian at Westlake HS in Eanes ISD (Texas), about an annual research project at her school. It's a six degrees kind of story.

I'll Trade You That 
As a companion research project to the book The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, each student at Westlake's English 3 AP classes research a person whose name appears on the Vietnam Wall. Students then create a presentation honoring the individual's life and the time in which they lived.  (click on this link right now before you go further with the story and find Charles Douglas King)

After seeing her post on Twitter, I wrote this email to Carolyn. "Last night I saw your Twitter link to the Vietnam Memorial project and thought of my dear friend, Pam Taylor, and her blog post from last summer. I emailed her this morning and asked for the soldier's name. It is Charles King. So, I emailed her the link, and she is going to show the website to her husband later today. I'm putting a copy of the post that she wrote about their visit to the Memorial last summer in It's sort of a "The Rest of the Story" or maybe "The Beginning of the Story." 

Roy Taylor, Pam's husband, is a kind and gentle man who has been a minister for more than 30 years and was a deputy sheriff in Louisiana, and is now a substitute teacher in a high-poverty high-crime area in the Dallas. All his jobs help pay back the sacrifice Charles King made. You might think how can being a cop or a substitute teacher be a payback? Easy. Roy spends a lot of his time counseling those in a crisis or in trouble and, in his own way, is making the world a better place just as Charles King did.

You might want to share the links with your AP teachers. Together they make a very powerful piece. I wish there was some way to forward it to the student who did such a good job with the memorial and to King's sister."

The whole story will be finished when you read what I put in (It's perfectly safe to download because it comes straight from my account) But be patient; it take a while to download this long pdf. I promise you it is worth it.

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