Appreciating Diversity

I was browsing in a toy store at the Dubai Mall looking for some educational type gifts for my nephew and I stumbled upon this…

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At first I laughed, took a picture, and sent it to my family.  I was actually really impressed with what I saw and annoyed with myself that I laughed.  For many families living in the GCC this is their reality even if they don’t come from a gulf (Khaleej) family.  This traditional dress is what all expat and local kids see in their communities daily.  In Dubai, local women traditionally wear a black abaya and men wear a white kandura (dishdasha).

As I reflected on upon my initial reaction, I realized that growing up in the USA, I never saw these toys in the toy store.  I never saw a toy or doll that looked like me or my family.

A little more poking around led me to this:

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I was very impressed with these toys, and looked them up and found that they are made by a company based in the UK called elc.  I would love to see these types of toys in a center in an early learning classroom.

“Another way to ensure diversity in children’s lives is to choose toys, books and media that reflect all types of people (e.g., include images of people with a variety of backgrounds, ages, abilities, characters that break stereotypes about men and women, art supplies in a wide range of skin, eye and hair colors). “

(Bias-Free Foundations: Early Childhood Activities for Families, 2001)

How are you ensuring diverse experiences and materials for your students or children?  Comments welcome.

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Building Bridges

I love my dad.  Recently, we have been working very closely together on a major project.  During this collaboration, we have had to overcome numerous obstacles on how to better communicate through the use of technology.  My dad is a businessman – very serious, linear, a CFO type.  While on the other hand, I am an educator – passionate, a dreamer, focused on doing things more efficiently and making sure everyone learns through the process.

Currently, we live on different continents; so “collaborating” is no easy task.  Initially, we started out simple:  smartphones, WhatsApp, and phone calls.  Then we progressed to Skype – since there is no need to pay for calls when we can talk for free!  Skype was funny and Dad had lots of questions.  But after the first few times, he quickly became a pro.

The next layer of this digital adventure was teaching Dad how to share his screen.  This way, I could see what he is working on, and vice versa.  To add to the confusion, I have a Mac and Dad has a PC.  So sometimes programs look a little different and we had an issue where he couldn’t remember how to share his screen. When he figured it out, he discovered he has an older version of Skype and needed to upgrade.  I decided it was time to introduce him to join.me.  This ensured that he could share his screen with anyone, even if they don’t use Skype. I walked him through the process step by step and we were equally impressed with the ease of being able to share a document and work through our thoughts together.

To complicate the above, I created a shared folder in Dropbox and excitedly invited Dad to join.  That process is pretty simple and seamless.  Every time Dad would change a document, add or delete content, Dropbox would notify me as it was running in the background on my computer.  As soon as I would get the notification, then I would receive an urgent text from dad asking: “Can you see the document?  Please advise”.  I get it, he wanted to make sure it was there.  It’s all part of the learning process.  He no longer asks me if I can see the document as he has become more comfortable with the use of the program.  Good work Dad!

Our next task is finding an online project management tool and we are open to suggestions.  Stay tuned for more on this and other stories of adventures through digital learning and collaboration.

Virtual Book Club v2

KDSL and EDspired are teaming up to host our second virtual book club beginning June 18, 2012.  We will be reading:  The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future (Multicultural Education) by Linda Darling-Hammond.

If you would like to join us, comment below or join the event on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/156208597840835/

You can also join directly here https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!forum/edspired-and-kdsl-virtual-book-club-v2

For more information about the book check out: http://store.tcpress.com/0807749621.shtml

I <3 Learning

I           Learning

I love learning!  Sounds cliché at best, but I really do especially when it’s based on my interests and at my own pace.  Quite honestly, the idea of going back to school, especially in a traditional setting, makes me anxious.  However, I am obsessed with technology and finding new ways to be more organized and efficient and effective in my personal and professional life.  I often imagine what school would have been like for me if I had all the tools and technology that we have today.

My goal is to share resources that I stumble upon and actually use and then share with my fellow EDheads:

My current EDspiration: 

I was looking for a way to save bookmarks in an organized manner and one that was not limited to my laptop and stumbled upon Diigo.  I have many bookmarks that are organized, but when it comes to looking up a resource, I rarely refer to my bookmarks.  It somehow seems overwhelming to have to remember where to look for the information.  Additionally, having access to this information through the Internet, is invaluable.  I work from different sites and in some cases may not have my laptop with me; this allows me to be global and mobile. Check it out!

http://www.fractuslearning.com/2011/12/07/convince-your-school-diigo-rocks/