Realizing Opportunity

Where in the world was ALP when the sky went dark? Five team members tell their stories from all four corners of the United States.

By Michael S Adler - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
By Michael S Adler - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

On any given day, our team of educators can be found across North America, facilitating a diverse number of professional learning experiences alongside educators in the districts we serve.

August 21, 2017 was no exception. The date stands out as the morning that the total solar eclipse cast the moon’s shadow across a broad swath of the United States. As a window onto the scope of our work, here is an email conversation between and among a few of our team members who were in the field that day.

Bob Dillon

I’m currently in San Antonio working with Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD. During our work session today designing and redefining learning experiences for students, we paused to go outside and take in the eclipse event. It created such a conversation about allowing the learning to be organic at times, and how important it is to allow the room to learn on its own. I have some pictures to share, but I thought it was an ALP moment of success for these teachers.

Jane Nauman

I wish I had as compelling a story to share with you! We are in Frenship ISD outside of Lubbock, Texas, and didn’t really have a good look at the eclipse given that it was so extremely cloudy. We went outside during lunch with glasses to try and see it, to no avail.

The 9th Grade Center we were working with was new to Office 365, so we did training on Windows 10 and OneNote earlier this week, followed by offering 4 half-day sessions to all school staff. One thing I will tell you: the people in Frenship (yes it is spelled like this because when they founded the town there was already a Friendship, TX) do hold up to their motto that they are the friendliest town in Texas – because they definitely were!

Beth Rayl & John McCarthy

We were with Marysville Public Schools in Michigan facilitating a Trailblazer Institute about 21st Century Skills and Open Educational Resources (OER). Marysville is located in a rural area alongside Canada on the northeast border of the state, which makes it nice for open skies.

At the fateful time, the trailblazers were like giddy middle schoolers, excited to test out the glasses and capture views of the eclipse. At first, we looked into the sun with the glasses. It was amazing to see the naked eclipse as shadow and bright light.

Several of us experimented with our cell phone cameras to try to capture a picture of the event. This was a time of many trials and just as many errors. Layering glasses over a phone screen and then searching for “the” angle is a test of patience. But success did happen!

Tony Borash

These stories are great and all, but I’m pretty sure they’re #fakenews.

During this so-called “eclipse,” I was with a group of middle school teachers from Live Oak School District in Santa Cruz, California, facilitating a session on Digital Citizenship and Information Literacy. The event was predicted to be perfectly timed for the transition into the sessions that Deb Atchison and Leah Rodgers were facilitating around Google Classroom and Introduction to Chromebooks, respectively. But as we went outside wearing with our fancy glasses, we were met with nothing but soft light diffused widely across the entire sky.

Returning to the learning space, we pulled up the NASA channel online to watch “live-streamed” video purportedly captured from all over the world. What a hoax! We knew better than to believe this conspiracy, as we had seen it (or rather, not seen it) with our own eyes.

I’m obviously being a little facetious- we understood it was just bad meteorological luck on our part. The circumstances of our eclipse experience did serve as a great initiating event for our discussion on helping students discern fact from fiction through source analysis. It’s hard to pass up a good Information Literacy joke when it presents itself!

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