Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Power of an Authentic Audience

My students are currently working on their discovery night project - this is an assignment where they present a real life problem to a community of adults - family, other teachers, friends - the forum is open to anyone that wants to come.

Our class is tackling the issue of electronic waste.

Much more on their learning and presentation will be coming up - the big night is Thursday - but I wanted to share one specific experience we had this week.

Our students have learned about the problems about recycling e-waste: It's expensive, difficult, and toxic.  We also learned that many of the would-be recyclers actually ship their electronics to places that have much lower standards for worker safety and environmental protection.  These places, such as Agbogbloshie, Ghana and Guiyu, China, pay workers less than a dollar per day and in the process destroy their own health and environment.   Electronics are burned so that precious metals can be salvaged, and no protection is given to the workers.  Students also learned many of these places use children younger than them to do this work.

One student was particularly bothered by this and decided to see what the recycling places he researched were doing about this.

He had a list of recycling locations and decided to start making calls.

Now if you know anything about teenage boys, you know talking on the phone to strangers ranks just below shoe shopping in 'high level interest activities.'

However, here was this 8th grade boy calling various companies and asking about how they handle the electronic items they 'recycle.'  Here was a typical conversation:

Student: Hi, I'm a student calling about electronic waste. What do you do with the items you recycle?

Rep: We reuse the items we can and recycle the ones we can't.

Student: but how do you recycle it?

Rep: What do you mean?

Student: Like do you ship it to Ghana or China or do you recycle it there?

Rep: That is proprietary information, I can't discuss that.

This, of course, led to a nice discussion on what this meant.  It also led to a very angry student.

But this anger also led to a discovery that there are responsible e-cycling standards.  From there all the students in the class began to look for two different standards: R-2 and e-stewards recycling standards.  They'd call companies and ask if their organization was certified by either of those standards.  Most of the time the company had no idea what that meant.

Students started telling the representative that their organization should seriously look into getting certified.  Suddenly the students felt they knew more than the adults.  They were sharing information with adults.  And nothing makes a student feel more powerful than that.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My Latest Endeavor: Will You Help?

I'm proud to say that I will be running the full Columbus Marathon this October 18th. While that seems like a bit of time from now (about 28 weeks) I've already begun training, running about 17 miles per week with long runs of over 6 miles.

Wait... A marathon?  26.2 miles? At once? Why?  It's a pretty legit question, especially since I swore I'd never run another half after my 2013 run.  I mean I was never a distance runner - before 2012 I had never run more than 3 miles at once!

It's all about perspective.

Perspective is very important.  We've all had long days - hard days at work, tough days in a relationship. It's part of life.  Bree and I would go to dinner at a friend's house.  We'd talk about work, life, and the likes.

This friend was a doctor at Children's Hospital here in Columbus.  Specifically, she worked in hospice.

Hearing her stories really put my life in perspective.  While I would complain about an issue at school or Bree would talk about a client that no showed, she would talk about a 3-year-old child that is on her 25th session of chemotherapy.  She'd talk about having to work with the child and talk to the family.  And she'd explain how that was a good conversation compared to some of the others she had to have that day.


I ran the Columbus half marathon back in 2012.  I wore my Angel Mile shirt in honor of those that are no longer with us.  I will be wearing it again in 2015.

My goal is to raise at least $750 for the hospice program at Children's Hospital. Here are some of the people I am hoping to help:  Patient Stories

I've also decided to institute some incentives as a way to say thank you.

$10.00 :  periodic e-mail updates on my training
$26.20 : come run with me! suggest a song and I'll add it to my play list.  You'll be with me for that part of my run :)
$50.00 : 4x6 photo of the finishers medal along with a personal thank you note.

If you are unable to donate, you can help by forwarding my message (either this blog post or the link below) along to someone that you feel is in a place to give.  My goal is not to 'guilt' anyone into giving.  I know that circumstances are different for everyone.  I appreciate the time you take just to read this.

If you are able to make a financial donation, please click the link below.  After you click, select the orange "Give Now" button on the right.

Donate To Nationwide Children's Hospital

If you are not comfortable using an online system, click the link below for a mail in form.  Please e-mail me if you mail in a donation so that I can thank you personally!

Mail in donation form

All donations are 100% tax deductible

Thank you for reading and for any support you can give.