Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Review: "Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds"

This article is cross posted at the Technology & Learning Advisor blog.

There is a new book on the market, that I think, is a  much needed "guide" for those that want to collaborate in their classrooms but are not quite sure how to get it done.  Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis have provided a wonderful resource in their book "Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds - Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time."  This is more than a book, it is designed using an interactive, action based approach that puts readers through a three part process that involves fifteen actions to give you, "a live learning experience connecting you to other learners."

In part one -  "Meet the Flat Classroom,"  the authors will familiarize you with the concepts of flattening your classroom through solid research and examples.  You will read how to embed and enhance current projects as well using stories from educators and students that are globally collaborating.  Part two - "Seven Steps to Flatten You Classroom," will get you involved by teaching you how to connect and build your global reach as well as communicate effectively.  The authors include information about how to sustain your projects, build relationships, while teaching digital global citizenship using what they call the "7 Steps to Flatten Your Classroom."  Finally, part three - "Project Development," guides the reader through the framework to create and manage their own global projects. These final chapters take the reader full circle from connecting, to collaborating, and then creating and managing your own global projects. Every chapter ends with a great summary, some essential questions, one of the fifteen challenges, a diary entry from one of the authors, and case studies. These features give great closure and application to all of the concepts that have been covered.

As I stated earlier, this is an interactive book with many great features that help educators apply what they are learning, and share them at the same time. Just about every page has a QR Code to scan, a website to visit or resources for connecting to others. For instance, they list key people to follow on Twitter under "Add Friend" or give the address of a recommended social network.  Furthermore, the ISTE NETS Standards and 21st Century Skills that are discussed can be found listed in the margin on the same page. Plus, they give you six months of free access to their PD Toolkit that is chock-full of case studies, downloadable tools, templates and assignments.

Overall, this is a great book written by 21st century educators, for 21st century educators, in a way that not only instructs, but engages that reader and gives them the tools to act and lead. I have met and spoken with so many educators that want to include 21st Century learning and pedagogy in the curriculum but feel overwhelmed and are not sure how to start. I now have a resource to point them to that is a complete and actionable resource to make them not just global collaborators, but leaders that can share what they learn and spread the "Flat Classroom" ™ movement. Or, better yet, become a Flat Classroom ® Certified Teacher!