Innovation on Earth

Global Citizenship Resources for Innovation Academy and Beyond

Archive for the tag “Students”

The Students Arrive!

Our students are finally arriving!  I spent most of the day at the airport, and as I write, the last two are being picked up for today.  Two more come later in the week.  Whew!  It’s exciting to meet them and get a taste for what our little group will be like. We have students from all over the world, but they all seem to eager to be here and learn.  It was a day of travel for me too, mostly on the highway between our hotel and the airport.  The smiling faces make sitting in traffic worth every second:

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Hawks for the Hawks

I am so proud to be a teacher at Innovation Academy. Our students’ successes were recently celebrated at Friday’s art show and written up in the Lowell Sun.

Graduating seniors this year are heading off to schools like Brown, Columbia, and Boston University, and many of these students are the first generation in their family to attend college. Since our high school is relatively new, we are gearing up for our second graduation ever on June 16th. As students like Shannon and Jenzel (pictured here) accept their diplomas, I will be remembering their accomplishments when they were 11 years old in my homebase.

What makes me most proud is that students at Innovation Academy are not waiting until they graduate to work for change. In fact, a group of middle school students saw a problem recently and took immediate action to fight for the needs of our planet. The numerous middle school students organized themselves into the “Lorax Society” to fight for protection of the trees that were being cut down to build athletic facilities at our school.  The Hawks (our school mascot) haven’t had proper fields or a track to practice on, and so we are currently building a new facility, which will be complete with a state of the art soccer field, track, and even a snack shack.  Some IACS students worry about the red-tailed hawks that could lose their homes due to the land being cleared, and began communicating online about their concerns.

Students mobilized, and pretty soon, they were able to meet with Walter Landberg, the Executive Director of Innovation Academy, to discuss the expansion in person.  He listened carefully to the students’ perspectives, and also told them more about the expansion initiative.  He pointed out how the school is tearing down 5 acres now, but working to protect over a hundred more acres of forest that we own.

Innovation on Earth is a website about building global citizenship, and it’s clear that these students are seeing themselves and their school, Innovation Academy, as a part of a larger world community.  They are putting the needs of others, in this case the animals, above their own. While seeing the trees come down is heart breaking, the dedication of these students is beautiful:

Back in elementary school, many of us were taught that there are two sides to every issue: good vs. evil or wrong vs. right.  As we get older, we learn that issues are more complicated.  While these trees will be missed, the benefit to the school will be huge.  We want to offer our students the best educational facility possible, and that means we need to make space for this growth. We need to show our community membership by supporting this project and helping our school to grow.  I am equally proud of those who supported the expansion.  Our school community has raised over $50,000 to benefit this project, and that’s good citizenship too. Mr. MacKinnon’s speech at the groundbreaking ceremony said it best: this facility will give us “the ability to invite others into our community and demonstrate to them the exemplary citizenship that Innovation Academy instills in all of its members.”  Check it out:

Can we be good community members at Innovation Academy who support our school AND be good global citizens who protect our forests? Students, we are looking to you to show us how it’s done.

Blog Round Up

If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably know my student Anna.  Her comments after each entry truly demonstrate what this blog is meant to be: a conversation.  If done well, each entry should begin a dialogue that inspires learning about living well in a world of diverse cultures.  I am proud that many students, in addition to Anna, have gotten involved.  They’ve been commenting on entries, doing research beyond this site, and talking to each other.  Some students even started a global action club at our school, which I am helping to get off the ground.  This blog isn’t meant to be about me, but about them.  As I continue writing from China this summer, I hope to experiment with even more creative strategies to get young people involved in this exploration of global citizenship.

I interviewed Anna and two other students, Sarah and Juliano, about what they’ve learned through this site. It’s always best to hear directly from the experts, so please view their video blog debut here:

Readers: What have you learned from this blog?  What ideas do you have to continue building this site and get more voices involved?

Student Video Response #2

Here’s another video of Ukrainian students responding to American student questions.  They also asked some of their own too: 

Ukrainian students: If you are reading this, please comment to the American students.

American students: Feel free to answer their questions in the comments below, and they can view it on the blog.  Also, we got an email from a teacher in France this morning. She showed her class our videos, and they commented on the Child Labor video and Religion video. Check out their comments!  We are communicating all over the world. This week, the blog has been viewed in 9 countries, including Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Australia! How exciting is that?

One to One Connections

It’s very clear being here that the direct person-to-person connection is most powerful.

Student to Student: Today, I shared your responses with the students in the video from a few days ago.  They loved seeing your responses and even seeing themselves on the blog.  They watched an Innovation Academy 6th grader, Nate, who shared a video response with me and their smiles were huge.  One thing I’ve learned about the culture here is that people don’t smile unless they mean it.  Americans are taught to smile all the time — at storekeepers, at friends, or even at people we pass on the street. Ukrainians aren’t like that. They only smile when they are really happy. And you should have seen their faces when they saw that the American students are responding to them. They are so excited to talk to real students in other countries.

During my presentation, I showed some examples of student work from IACS.

Teacher to Teacher: In the afternoon, Carol and I presented to a group of English teachers in the region. We spoke about project-based learning and technology use in the classroom. It was clear that the teachers are dedicated and excited to try new methods.

Carol showed some useful websites, many of which I'd like to try out myself!

Afterwards, several teachers approached us and asked to continue being in touch through email so that we can continue the relationship. If there are any teachers out there who want to do a collaborative project with a teacher in Ukraine, I’d be happy to help make introductions.

If you want to send a note to students here, it’s not too late.  We are visiting the Classical Lyceum until Thursday.  You can post in the comments here, or email me at  We’ll also be visiting other schools this week, if all goes well — tomorrow we’re hoping to see an English school and a school for people with disabilities. Then, on Wednesday, 100 principals from the best schools of Ukraine are coming here. It’s an exciting time!

Welcome to Classical Lyceum

Lydia, Carol (my fellow TGC teacher from West Virginia), Me, and the School Principal

Today was our first day at Zaporizhia Classical Lyceum! We’ll be here for the next week, hosted by our partner teacher, Lydia, and the rest of the school community.  Today, we observed several classes and met with the administrative team.  This school has been recently ranked in the top 25 schools in all of Ukraine!  It’s a music focused specialized public school, sort of like a charter or magnet school.  All students play a musical instrument!

As excited as I am to learn about their school, Classical Lyceum staff and students are interested to know about us. So, I have a challenge for any IACS students who are reading this. Today, I videotaped Ukrainian students asking questions about you.  They are eagerly awaiting your answers, and there will even be a souvenir prize from Ukraine for my favorite three responses. I’ll be looking for creativity!

Your challenge: Watch this video, and reply in one of the following ways.  You are most likely to get through if you complete this by Tuesday, April 24th.

  1. Answer one of their questions in the comments section of this post.
  2. Get parent help to film and post a video response.
  3. Email Ms. Krakauer with your answers (in writing or pictures)
  4. Ask your own questions of the students here.

The Classical Lyceum

We are looking forward to hearing your replies!

Beginning of School Exploration

We have finally arrived in Zaporizhia, where I’ll be spending the next 8 days.  After an interesting overnight train ride, we are so excited to be here.  The train was comfortable, but it was a little hard to sleep with all the bumps and noises.


We are here to visit the Zaporizhia Classical Lyceum, and our host teacher, Lydia.  In less than an hour, we will leave for our first visit to the school.

Back in Kyiv, we started getting some first hand experience with schools in Ukraine. We visited School 57 (where they did the lego sculpture) and our group was very impressed with the caliber of education.  The students there are multi-lingual, and pretty much all of them speak Russian, Ukrainian, English, and German.  They have study abroad opportunities, dance, theatre, sports, newspaper, and more.

We got an opportunity to visit classes as well, and the teaching was great.  I observed a teacher in her late seventies who had more energy than most of the teachers at our school!  She switched up the activity every few minutes, and even took a break mid-class to get the students moving their bodies, keeping them awake and on their toes:

The students also did several presentations for us, including a puppet show during a school assembly. They use puppets as a tool to practice their English skills.

In the afternoon, IREX hosted a panel for us, with various leaders in education talking about their views on schools in Ukraine.  It was really enlightening, but also sad to hear about some of the problems with schools here. For example, they don’t really have any services for students with special needs. Many just end up getting tutored at home, and this is clearly an issue.  There were also a lot of positives that we heard about at the panel, including teachers doing civic education and service learning.

I’m out of time to write now, but I will post more later and try to add some video from the panel as well!  So much to write about!

Euro Cup 2012

Euro Cup Billboard

Did you know that Ukraine and Poland are hosting the Euro Cup this summer?  This is a big deal — it’s like the Soccer World Cup for Europe.  Our hotel is right next to the big stadium where the final match will be, and the whole city is clearly excited.  We’re seeing posters and signs everywhere!

Today, we visited a school in the capital, Kyiv School 57, where they are even teaching a class called “Euro Cup 2012.” We were all impressed with the students and teachers there, but I will save most of the details for another post.

I do have to share an amazing example of project-based learning.  The 11th grade students are entering a contest for which they had to design a model of the stadium.  They decided to make theirs out of legos, and they did the whole thing on their own.  The result was very impressive!  Here’s a video if you want to see the students talking about their work, and you can also get to see some of the detail on their amazing sculpture:

In a few hours, Carol and I leave for the overnight train. I’m going to try to work on editing some more video to post tomorrow! We saw a lot at School 57 today — much more than the legos.

On your mark. Get set. Go! Write!

It’s hard to believe, but tomorrow I will be getting on a plane for Ukraine.  While I am away, you are invited to be a part of the journey. Students in 5/6 Social Studies will get credit for completing the following work. If you are not in our classes now, ask your teacher if he or she will give you extra credit for completing this.

Student Assignment: You must answer at least three questions below, each based on a different blog entry.  Extension credit will be given for additional answers here, or thoughtful comments on posts. Make sure to use complete sentences.

Packing is under way: I've got the guidebooks, passport, and IACS bracelets to give as gifts to Ukrainian students. Don't worry -- I won't try to fit my bird into my suitcase! She'll stay in Massachusetts to greet me upon my return.

If you’d like to download a copy of the worksheet, click here. I will be blogging away, so I hope you will be reading along and responding.

The Questions:

1. Fun Experiences: Choose something that Ms. Krakauer did that you think would be very fun to do yourself. Write about what it is, and why you’d like to do that too.

2. Challenging Experiences: Choose something that Ms. Krakauer did that you think would be very challenging to do yourself. Write about what it is, and why you’d find it challenging.

3. Culture: Name an aspect of Ukrainian or Turkish culture that Ms. Krakauer encountered. Describe what Ms. Krakauer saw and what this says about the local culture.

4. Religion: Did Ms. Krakauer experience anything relating to the religious beliefs of people in Ukraine and Turkey? Describe what she saw, and how it is similar and/or different to religions that you know about.

5. Education: Read a post about Ukrainian or Turkish schools. What did you find most interesting, surprising, or different compared to our school?

6. Landscape: Describe an aspect of the landscape in Ukraine or Turkey. How does it affect the way people live in that place?

Global Citizenship Projects

We just ended the quarter with a challenge to our students: design a class project that shows good global citizenship.  We gave them a week and some criteria, but the students had a lot of room to be creative.  This is what they came up with, and I couldn’t be more proud.

Homebase Barton decided to make a video educating the public about the issue of child labor. They researched, wrote the script, composed the music on Garage Band, made the art, and starred in the film. I did some facilitation, camera work, and editing, but this is truly their creation:

Homebase Salk decided to make an international rock garden for our school. They wrote, “The flags symbolize that we all come from different places but we are all united and a part of the same community. Homebase Salk created this for our Global Citizenship Project in Social Studies class. Through this project we are all aiming to become global citizens. A global citizen is willing to help people inside and out of their communities. We should all try to respect others and their heritage. Homebase Salk hopes that you will try to be a helpful community member. We hope this project will teach everybody that even the smallest things count.” The actual garden isn’t set up yet, but here are some pictures of the painting process.

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Congratulations to Homebase Barton and Homebase Salk! It’s been a pleasure working with you this year, and these projects show that you have truly grown into active global citizens!

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