WHAT IS IT?
In association with Smithsonian Education, Microsoft's Partners in Learning and Taking It Global, the Shout Initiative uses technology as way to link teachers and schools around key environmental issues of our time. In the process, they aim to mobilize students to take an engaging role in current environmental causes.
Participating classrooms have the opportunity to interact directly with scientists in the field, and in some cases actually participate in data analysis. They can connect with other classrooms, tackling envrionmental challenges together. Shout offers resources and tools for classrooms and seeks to foster the 21st-century skills of collaboration, innovation, and critical thinking.
It has been proven that connecting students through technology and empowering them to build activities in their own way is a transformative learning experience, resulting in more globally-aware and engaged students; ASAC recognizes the Shout Initiative as one great way to accomplish this goal.
Allowing students to interact with Smithsonian scientists is a great way to pique their interest in science, and these 1-hour sessions are archived so any classrooms can watch them after their initial broadcast. Take a look at some of the archived programs and teacher previews here to get an idea of what they look like.
From a science or global issues point of view, this digital interaction brings students from their isolated classroom into a more global space where they can interact with other classes around mutually-important issues. Participating classes have called the initiative an "idea maker" that boosts critical thinking and empowers their students to engage in global issues in a hands-on manner. This 5-minute video provides some great background information about the initiative.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
For teachers or classes interested in participating in Shout, ASAC recommends watching this one-hour Teacher Preview Session, as it explains the classroom resources available, including the National Museum of Natural History’s Ocean Portal as well as curriculum connections to topics covered within the conference sessions.
Each initiative is based on a different focus, such as Land, Air and Water. Each "focus" connects students and teachers to a live event (with Smithsonian scientists) and also fosters teacher networking, as well as student collaborations focused around these themes. They also present students with "challenges" designed to deepen their learning and engagement with the issue at hand.
For participating classrooms, the Shout program (as they explain on their website) offers:
• Online events hosted by the Smithsonian Institution that feature some of the world’s leading scientists and environmental experts as well as representatives of other fields who bring diverse perspectives to the issues at hand. Sessions can be watched live in real time or in archived format in order to accommodate all time zones.
• Access to Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Network, a global community of educators who value innovative uses of information and communication technology, in order to share environmental education resources, experiences, and best practices with teachers around the world.
• Engagement of students in TakingITGlobal's online community, which provides resources, action tools, as well as the complimentary use of content-rich virtual classrooms and collaboration spaces designed to deepen environmental understanding and stewardship, enhance the development of 21st century skills, and facilitate continued communication with Smithsonian experts.
• A web portal that ties these elements together and provides access to additional tools and resources to support a range of “student challenges” – calls for deeper involvement that can range from capturing and sharing scientific data to developing youth-led initiatives for positive change.