Attention: FEMA, Red Cross- Give Facebook a try!

You may just get it done a little more efficiently and effectively.

Just take a peek at what has been going on on Facebook to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy in Staten Island. The way in which people are connecting to each other, tapping into resources well beyond the scope of the local area, collecting and soliciting items that are needed…  just look at this… how else could all of this happen? How else can the needs of the people of this neighborhood be met so effectively and efficiently? It continues to amaze me as I follow all of my friends from “home” (while in Connecticut) and the Guyon Rescue group that was founded to help and support the people of the Oakwood Beach area of Staten Island. They even have a website now !

Here is a small snapshot of what has been happening Facebook in a short amount of time…

Requesting items of immediate need (changing by the minute– and Facebook gets it out there):

Facebook is also the way to “rally the troops” and keep spirits high:

Facebook is the place to “wish for things” and have them appear. Believe me, they do!

Facebook is the place to thank the generous people of this world who have been donating beyond everyone’s expectations:

And how else would the word spread about services that are available?

Facebook even announces a Thanksgiving meal being hosted in someone’s home and other opportunities available:

And Facebook is the place that we thank the friends and strangers (who have now become friends) for the amazing work they are doing every day:

   

How else would the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy have turned into the most amazing grassroots, life changing experience for victims and volunteers?

Thanks Facebook! 

Seriously FEMA,  Red Cross! Get down on the ground, “in the grass”, and see what’s going on here.  A LOT is getting done, day in and day out, for the people who need it most. Can you put a few agents out there in  Oakwood Beach, Midland Beach, South Beach, Breezy Point, Coney Island, Rockaways, and on the Jersey Shore to connect and support the grass-roots efforts happening here… no red tape. Just get it done. You, too, can use Facebook!

P. S. This post (it’s my 50th blog post! yay me!) is dedicated to all my amazing “childhood” friends from Oakwood/ Flint Street, who have created a lifetime of memories in this special place for me to cherish. These are the people who have now become my friends in adulthood, thanks to what else?….FACEBOOK! Thank you ALL for continuing to make memories with me (and for letting me “tag a long!”)

And Gayle Judith Parascandola-  Your tireless effort since the storm hit has been nothing short of amazing. You make me want to do more every day! You have brought new meaning to “please and thank you.”

Flint Street FOREVER!

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#StatenIslandProud

A few years after I got married and moved to Connecticut, someone said, in passing, “Never forget where you came from.” These words have become so incredibly meaningful to me in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

This past Saturday, my family and I packed up our truck with many generous donations from friends and headed to Oakwood Beach, Staten Island. This area is a little more than a mile from the house where I grew up. My old house was not in a flood zone (it was in Zone B) and it, too, was evacuated in the middle of the storm as the waters rose from 3 inches to 3 feet in a matter of minutes. It’s amazing the two worlds that exist here today. The higher grounds of the island are fully in tact and yet, a mile away, such destruction. It’s like nothing I have ever seen or experienced before. I am humbled and feel privileged that we could help out in some way.

Here are some pictures from our trip. If you show in full screen and hit “show info” on the top right, you can see captions to the photos.

Say what you want about New Yorkers, and especially Staten Islanders, they are TOUGH and they know how to help each other. This tragedy has shown many people what the true meaning of community is.

I have never been prouder to be a Staten Islander.

New ways to communicate! (and pretty helpful during Hurricane Sandy…)

For the past few years, Middle and Upper School teachers at Hamden Hall have been required to post weekly syllabi and course material to their course conference on First Class. This year, I decided to pilot two additional ways to communicate with my students: Schoology and Remind101. I figured that, with the combination of a web-based, Facebook-like interface, accessible via iPhone, iPad or computer using Schoology, and with texting via Remind101, I would be able to communicate efficiently and effectively to my students in a variety of ways.

After using both for about two months, here are my thoughts:

Schoology

1) Students really like the interface. Access on many devices is very convenient.

2) Schoology allows easy access for students to watch the videos that I create on my iPad using Educreations.

3) After students watch the videos, I use Schoology to create short online assessments to see how well the students understood what I explained in the video. These are automatically graded and it is very easy for me to see which problems I need to go over when we get to class the next day.

4) Students have said “I can’t believe I can do my homework on my phone,” although, a few have said that the online quizzes are difficult to complete on their phones because the font is too small.

5) The mathematical formulas and symbols are a little cumbersome to use in the online assessments.

6) I can easily post screenshots and SMARTBoard notes from class for students to refer to for review or if they are absent. I can also upload practice problems to our “news feed.”

7) I can easily create polls that students like to answer!

8) I get notifications when students post to our “wall” and they can also send me direct messages if they would like to communicate with me privately.

9) Students feel that the upcoming assignment area is a bit confusing. I had to make it very clear when I post to this area, clearly differentiating when the assignment is assigned vs. when the assignment is DUE.

Overall, using Schoology has been a positive experience for my students. When I polled them, all but one liked watching the videos and completing the online assessments. I have found it to be incredibly convenient when our First Class email system is inaccessible (as it is right now, with the storm affecting power in our area).  I do wish they used Schoology to communicate with EACH OTHER a bit more. I have to work on that. The “Learn. Together.” part isn’t really happening just yet.

Remind101

I heard about Remind101 on Twitter and then someone showed it during the app smackdown at EdCampCT. It seemed easy enough to set up. Students would not have my cell phone number, and I wouldn’t have theirs, but I could easily get a text message TO them for free!  I also  liked the idea that students had an option to subscribe to email messages in case they did not have unlimited texting. The set up was SO EASY! Once you create your class, Remind101 creates a printable PDF with step-by-step instructions for students to subscribe.   It turns out that all of my students subscribed to the class texts.

Students seem to really like getting reminders about changes to class meeting times/ locations, reminders about extra help sessions, and, today, reminders about their assignments when they do not have internet access during the storm. (Do they really love this?…) The students would love to be able to reply to the texts, but Remind101 does not allow that . It is definitely something that we can work around because students have Schoology and regular email as options for direct communication. Overall, this has been great for us and I am using this quite a bit today, with Hurricane Sandy, as more and more of my students are losing power and internet access.

So.. new ways to communicate are allowing me to keep in touch with my students during what is possibly the worst storm to hit CT since 1938! This storm is nowhere near done with us. I wonder what this week will bring. At least I can get some work to my students! I am sure they are happy about it 🙂