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Each one of us has to travel some distance to get to school each day. Some students walk or ride bikes and scooters. Some ride on a bus while others are dropped off by parents. I drive to school each morning in my family van with my two children who attend Kennedy. For all of us, it’s a physical commute…literally and bodily covering distance to get from home to the classroom.

This week, however, we covered many thousands of miles without even walking out the door.

Thanks to technologies such as webcams, interactive video conferencing, Skype, ooVoo, and CoverItLive blogs, DreamExtreme 5th graders were able to communicate directly – in real time – with students and teachers in New Jersey, New York, and Washington DC. We explored the art of the Smithsonian Institute. We discussed the accuracy of primary source document research. We compared and contrasted life on opposite coasts.

In short, we lived and moved and worked together in the 21st century.

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We learned a lot of different and important lessons in our technotravels. We learned how important it is to show respect to each other and the people on the other end of the digital connection. We learned that it takes practice and focus to present ourselves as effectively and positively as possible. Outstanding communication skills don’t just happen…they take work.

This week was a something of a bellwether week for me as a teacher. It was my opportunity to assess where the students are in their collaborative and communicative journey. It helped me see areas we’ll need to spend some more practice time on and abilities that we can celebrate now.

We talked in class this morning about the reality that everything we do sets a precedent both for our own future and the future experiences of those with whom we work. I believe that our travels have helped strengthen our focus and our understanding of what it is we’re working toward. The good stuff takes time and effort. This week brought us a view of lots of good stuff.

Now we get to begin the next step of this learning commute. And then the next step. And the next…