Featured Picture: Teacher Michael Soskil presenting at ISTE Conference.
“My mission to empower students to change the world and to assist teachers in helping them do that has brought me to the White House, the US Department of Education, the United Nations, and around the world to speak to educators, students, policy makers, social innovators, and philanthropists about teaching and learning. At every opportunity I deliver the message that students learning by collaborating with others around the world to solve real problems creates a better tomorrow for all of us.” – Michael Soskil
When we talk about 2016 Global Teacher Prize Top 50 Finalist Michael Soskil, we are talking about a very innovative teacher. Michael Soskil has revolutionized teaching in several ways. Not only does he use distance learning and teaching to help connect students around the world, but he also helps his class establish an emotional connection with the topics they study so that they can remember this knowledge for the rest of their lives.
Michael is the head teacher of Wallenpaupack South Elementary School in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania and a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. With a neuroscience approach, he bases his teaching methods on the finding that learning is stored in long-term memory when a child emotionally connects with what is being taught. He aims to facilitate emotional connections through project- and problem-based learning activities and by cultivating joy in his classroom, which comes through helping others.
Teacher Michael Soskil interviewed by a group of Kenyan students.
Michael started using Skype In The Classroom to connect his classroom in Pennsylvania with students in other countries. His class met, via Skype, with a class from Kibera, Kenya. Students from both classrooms sang their favourite songs, had a conversation, and exchanged knowledge and experiences. After the Skype call ended, Soskil’s students initiated a Global Service Learning Project with Kenyan students whom they met online. They decided to record videos using the classroom maths materials, that aren’t available in Kenya, and sent these videos to the Kenyan school.
Teacher Michael Soskil speaks about the Global Service Learning project.
This gradually developed into a huge global service program founded in Michael’s belief that students should be empowered to change the world. He has designed numerous projects where his classes have collaborated with and learned from students and experts from different parts of the world. His students in Pennsylvania led a fundraising initiative to purchase water filters as a gift for two schools in Kenya in order to combat life threatening sickness, like Cholera, that results from unclean drinking water. In this way, Michael isn’t only teaching his students that they can change the world, but he is actually assisting them to make that impact while they are inside his classroom.
Teacher Michael Soskil interviewed by a group of Kenyan students
Michael co-hosts an online podcast called “EDTech Chat ‘n Chew“, which attracts many teachers and students online. He also has a blog with 180 thousand visitors, in which he regularly writes about education innovation.
In recognition of his experience in this area, he was invited to speak at the United Nations Social Innovation Summit and Social Good Summit conferences. He has also presented at many international, national and state educational conferences on student empowerment, mathematics, global collaboration and problem-based learning and has been sharing his insights via social media. In addition to supporting fellow teachers, he is also very active in his local community.
Keep up the incredible work, Mike! Learn more about his work and about the other 2016 Top 50 Finalists from their Global Teacher Prize profiles.