Today I completed my own #ALSicebucketchallenge with my toddler son. Special thanks to Tom Murray for nominating me, and for my family for helping it all happen. The full video is below if you care to watch us take 3 bags of ice and 5 gallons of water for ALS. (I nominated 35 of my former 3rd grade students I taught at Hubbard Woods School in Illinois).
Participating in this experience has me thinking about what students, teachers and parents can take away from the extremely high level of engagement this “challenge” has sparked around the country since it began. Pat Quinn, of Yonkers, NY, has been recognized for sparking the campaign that has thousands around the country dumping buckets of freezing water on their heads. Quinn became an ambassador for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, shortly after being diagnosed with the devastating neurological disease last year. He says the only way to do that is to get people learning about ALS and then get them to start taking some action.
Since the social media campaign began through today (August 16), more than $11.4 million dollars have been raised for ALS. During the same time period last year, and without social media’s support, only about $1.7 million dollars had been raised – This all according to the ALS website. People of all ages, including celebrities, athletes, musicians, teachers, politicians — you name it — have jumped in. It is really exciting to see something we can all be proud of go viral. ALS is a nasty disease and the more we can do to raise money, build support and find a cure the better.
So aside from raising money, supporting a great cause and role modeling for kids a good use of social media, what can today’s teachers learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge experience? Below are five ideas to consider.
- Teachers: Don’t be afraid to challenge your students to do something absolutely crazy and use social media to capture it, celebrate it and share it with your parents and the community. Students often have much better ideas than we adults do at coming up with these challenges.
- Teachers: Get connected on social media to share your school’s story. Tweet. Post YouTube videos. Use Facebook to house the challenge. Create a class student voice podcast. Connect your class with another from a different timezone, country even language! Use Voxer or blogs to create anytime, anywhere experiences that don’t force a LIVE interaction which is so hard to pull off while you’re trying to maximize instructional time.
- School principals, superintendents and other “typically formal school leaders: Bring a sense of humor to the role when it comes to communicating and encouraging stakeholders. Create a snow day video recording. Work from the roof. Shave your head. Get in the dunk tank. Swim with sharks at the aquarium. Jump out of an airplane if you so dare. What will you do to engage your students at a deeper level?
- Students: We need your voice now more than ever. Tell your teachers you want to use social media to learn, produce content, complete assignments, capture and share your learning. Teach them how it works if they are reluctant. We know you’re using it to survive outside of school hours in 2014. We know school will be so much more engaging, interactive and relationship-based if you don’t have to step back into device-free 1955 every September.
- Finally, educators around the world – Continue to set the very best example of digital citizenship, safety and responsibility when using social media to learn personally and professionally. The PLN (personal learning network) is a special place of selfless sharing, connecting and inspiring. It is up to each of us to keep it that way, and to give more than you take each day. In the words of my first principal (as a teacher) Maureen Cheever, “Be Crazy, Be Magnificent this year.”
Wishing all of you your best school year yet. JM