Last school year, I was reading an email that came from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. At the bottom of the email, I noticed a little blurb for an organization called DreamWakers

I can't remember exactly what enticed me to click on it, but I'm glad I did. The concept is that DreamWakers will connect your classroom with career professionals via video chats. I was interested because the segment of the curriculum I teach which requires students to understand that the arts, arts-training, and creativity are vital to almost all careers has been consistently difficult for me to teach. There are videos about arts careers. The ones I found were boring, though. There are books. Again, pretty boring. I also feel that with social media and technology, careers are changing at lightning speed, which makes it hard for videos and books to remain relevant. I want my students to be engaged. So, my teaching must be relevant to them.

I signed up to host a video chat last year. I loved it. My students were so engaged. They asked the speaker incredible questions. I was so impressed with them. I was able to host one chat with a fifth grade class last school year. Here is a snippet of that chat from the DreamWakers YouTube channel. I think this video is a great way for you to get a feel for how these chats look in the actual classroom. 

This year, I was able to arrange to have a teaching artist come to work with second, third, and fifth grade through some grants that I wrote. I will blog about those experiences later. However, I wasn't able to secure anyone for fourth grade. So, I decided to appeal to DreamWakers for help. I explained this situation to them. I also explained that I have about 150 fourth grade students who come to my classroom once a week. So, I have a different class of students each day of the week. They agreed to help me find someone for each class. 

DreamWakers really pulled through on this, y'all! So far, we have chatted with a Harvard-educated architect with the Rockwell Group in NYC, the social media director for Lancome Makeup, a photographer in NYC and one in Philadelphia. We also have a chat scheduled with the beauty editor of a major fashion magazine.  Talk about relevant! These are actual people working in these professions. 

I am getting a lot of great feedback from my students about these. I really loved how one class talked for days about what one of our speakers told them about overcoming adversity to be a happy, successful adult. She shared how her parents immigrated from Africa and had thick accents. She said she was bullied growing up because her skin was very dark and because of her parents. She talked to the students about how sometimes bullies are insecure in themselves, which has nothing to do with you. 

Another group of students have asked me if they can put a Google Slide presentation together about what they are learning in the chats. Of course, I said YES! I love that they took the initiative on that. 
How our setup looks when we host a chat. This is my classroom.
I hope you will check out DreamWakers. There is much these video chats can offer to your classroom. DreamWakers has even developed some lesson plans to accompany the chats. Also, be sure to play around on the YouTube channel. There are some great chat-snippets that you can use with your classes. 

Finally, I think it would be rude of me not to mention that DreamWakers chose me to be a DreamTeacher Fellow this year. They chose ten teachers across the nation for this. It is an incredible honor and opportunity. I am very excited about it and extremely grateful. 

Here is the announcement that went out in the DreamWakers newsletter in January. You can check out the full newsletter using the link in the text. 

2017 DreamWakers DreamTeacher Fellows

1. Adam Kohler: 6th grade World History; New Orleans, LA
2. Amanda Koonlaba: 4th grade Art; Tupelo, MS
3. Donald Saint-Germain: 10-12th grade Computer Science & English; Bronx, NY
4. Erik van Houten:  6th grade Big History; Las Vegas, NV
5. Fadesola Ojeikere:  6th grade History; Newark, NJ
6. Heather Shotke: 7th grade Leadership; Rosemead, CA
7. Joy Delgallego: 5th grade; El Cajon, CA
8. Nicholas Lundberg: 5th grade; Spokane, WA
9. Tiffany Rivera: 5th grade; Chicago, IL
10. Valencia Angles: 6-8th grade Gifted Students; Tazewell-area, VA

Are you using DreamWakers? Let me know! I'd love to connect!


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