Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Engage Your Future Students Today with Flashforward

Innovative educators looking for an engaging project for their students should visit http://www.flashforwardexperience.com. This site takes information from student’s Facebook pages and provides a unique glimpse of “their” story. For those who don’t know, Flashforward is a cutting-edge, new television show with the premise being that the world blacked out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds and during that time, everyone (well almost everyone) had a vision of their lives six months into the future. The world is now trying to piece that together in a project called the “Mosaic Collective” to achieve a global picture of the future.

Innovative educators can have their students visit this site and share what they found, or what they think their glimpse six months into the future could be. This could be collected in all sorts of innovative ways: audio clips, Vokis, powerpoints, Voicethread, wikis, Google Earth, and more. If, like me, you are not educating students, but rather adults, this could also be a great ice breaker. Where will they be as a transformative educator or leader 6 months in the future, 1 year, 3 years. What will their classroom or school look like? Capture their answer using TwitterFall or Polleverywhere.

In schools or districts where personal learning devices are banned and sites are blocked, this can still be a terrific assignment students can begin away from school and produce their work at school.

If you haven’t already, check it out for yourself by visiting http://www.flashforwardexperience.com.


  1. Wonderful article for teachers! I know of a great website which helps teachers in classroom management. This site provides resources and behaviour tips for teachers, head teachers, lecturers and classroom assistants. A wide range of free practical classroom resources are available for instant download.

  2. I definitely think that television can be an effective resource in the classroom. There are many National Geographic shows that would be extremely appropriate and beneficial to a unit in social studies and in science (although this is not my playground).

    As for something students may find truly interesting, I would shoot for a more active show that includes dialogue. For example, in a social studies class, I would incorporate a show like Nancy Grace in teaching a unit on the legal system--using current events. Of course, it would be using clips rather than an entire show--using only relevant information such as when Nancy talks with attorneys regarding the crime at hand. The learning goals would be somewhat as follows:

    1) The students will understand the legal system relevant to the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in the U.S.

    2) The students will be knowledgable on due process of law from the perspectives of both the court system and the accused.

    Before showing Nancy Grace in my classroom, I would have to preview the footage for any possible inappropriate material. I would certainly have to stop or pause the video clips periodically to discuss the facts and relate them to the curriculum. I would have students take notes during our discussion--asking them questions and checking for comprehension.

  3. Tara, interesting post in the Washington Post not too long ago (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/daniel-willingham/willingham-reading-is-not-a-sk.html) about reading. The writers claims one of the greatest misunderstandings about reading is that its only a skill. Reading skills or strategies involve connecting new information to prior knowledge in order to build meaning. If you've got less prior knowledge, you've got less to connect to. I think TV is a great way for students to build up background knowledge...well some TV. I recently told a student and her mother that in addition to reading non-fiction texts, he should watch informational tv programs -- NatGeo, Discovery, etc. to improve her background knowledge. The student was excited that I was actually telling his mother that he should watch more TV.