Saturday, June 29, 2013

PEEPs: An introduction to the non-profit educationally focused grassroots organization called PEEPs-Protect, Engage and Empower to Preserve the Future.

Well, for the last three weeks or so I have been waking up in the middle of the night and writing down ideas that I have for a non-profit organization. The ideas are now firm enough to officially start the non-profit organization called PEEPs. Let me be the first to welcome you to PEEPs or Protect, Engage, and Empower to Preserve the Future.

PEEPs is a grassroots effort whose purpose is to "Build a Learning Community." This is based on an idea of Alan November, a well-known education consultant who focuses on empowering students with technology and critical thinking skills so they can contribute to the world. He also emphasizes the importance of community involvement in the educational goals of the students. Here is a link to Alan November's TED speech explaining some of his ideas.

My non-profit organization will provide enriching activities that promote problem solving, critical thinking and community service. We need to unite the local businesses, churches, government, neighborhoods and families together to ensure we are providing the activities necessary for our youth to be successful citizens of their communities and prepare them with the needed skills for success in a global environment.

Here are links to some videos that give information on PEEPs:
2. Blueberries for Sal/Blackberries for All Workshop-A local environmental project based on a classic picture book favorite of mine called Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Phase 1 of the PEEPs program is to provide and encourage enrichment activities in the areas of arts, fitness, world awareness, problem solving, financial prowess, environment and technology. My initial focus will be to reach out to rising 4th, 5th and 6th graders, especially those students who attend Cub Run ES, Deer Park ES and London Towne ES but students at other close schools like Virginia Run are welcome too. As a grassroots organization, PEEPs is dependent on each of you to spread this information to others in our community. I’m asking you to take a moment of time and think about others you know who may be interested and share this link with others who you think might be interested, especially 4-6 graders in the Sully Station Area.(http://life-literacy-happiness.blogspot.com/2013/06/peeps-introduction-to-non-profit.html)

The cost of becoming a member of Sully Station PEEPs is $30 per person. For that $30, student PEEPs will receive a secure "Google Apps for Educators" Account, which includes a secure email.  This email has a contact book which includes emails of every PEEPs member, but is completely closed to people outside of PEEPs. Along with email, they will have resources to create websites, blogs, wikis, forms, surveys, spreadsheets and many other great tools. PEEPs will be offering classes on how to do this later this summer.

Student PEEPs will also receive a secure, monitored educational account to a site called Glogster, which is highly recommended by educators. It is an easy and creative way to make interactive online posters.  These glogs are great for helping students have a voice and share their ideas in a fun and meaningful way. Here is a link to show briefly how glogster works.

PEEPs members will also receive an invitation to join two free sites that I use on a daily basis to help increase my productivity. The sites are Diigo and Dropbox. Diigo is a cloud based bookmarking and tagging system and Dropbox is a simple way to connect your personal computer to the cloud.  This means that you can access any file from any computer eliminating the need for emailing and saving files on memory sticks. 

PEEPs members will also receive access to our newsletters and websites as well as access to workshops and classes we are offering.

As an incentive to act quickly, I have been given 30 copies of A Field Guide To Fairfax County's Plants and Wildlife. I will give one copy to the first 20 families who apply for PEEPs membership and who don't already have a copy. It is a beautiful field guide with plants and animals that are found here locally. It was published this year by the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services Stormwater Planning Division. Enough copies were printed to provide one for every 5th grader in Fairfax County Public Schools, but there are very few copies still available. Thank you to Takisha Cannon of the Stormwater Planning Division of the Fairfax County Government for donating these copies to PEEPs. We are keeping 10 copies to use for our workshops and PEEPs members will be able to download an electronic copy of this guide. Here is a link showing some sample pages of the field guide and a file you can download so you can see what a great resource this is.

Stay tuned for more information on how to sign-up online for PEEPs membership and how to sign-up for the Blueberries for Sal/Blackberries for All Class and the Habits for Life Class. If you'd like to put your name in line for the field guide before then please email me at michelemwatkins@gmail.com.

Thanks so much for your willingness to take active steps in Building our Sully Station Learning Community.





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