Vanessa- When it comes to Collaboration Projects, Dr. Judi Harris always comes to my mind. My guess is that you might already know about her work…being a fellow resident of Austin. Dr. Harris has studied the power of telecollaboration from early on, when the web was still just text based. Below are a few links to her “telecollaboration activity structures”. I’m looking forward to following this discussion. As I mentioned in a few other posts, I think the Engage Community is a great place to make classroom-to-classroom connections. Gail Holmes has posted a document that can organize and request collaboration partners http://engage.intel.com/docs/DOC-2473
Resources for Collaborative Projects
On-line Project Based Learning
This online exhibition is provided by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. The site contains examples of eight online projects. Each project includes photographs or videos or teachers and students participating in a project.
In this project, students in grades 3–8 track the migratory patterns of different animal species and share their field observations with other classrooms. The project database allows students to search for the sightings of a certain animal and then map its migration route.
The GENETICS Project is a University of Washington (UW)-sponsored science program with the aim of fostering excellence in the teaching of genetics. The initiative provides K–12 teachers with professional development that promotes inquiry-driven, standards-based, and learner-centered instructional strategies, supported by exemplary materials. The site contains examples of middle and high school classroom activities and related instructional materials.
High School Human Genome Program
The UW-sponsored High School Human Genome Program allows students in grades 9–12 to sequence DNA in their classrooms and contribute their data to the Human Genome Project (a worldwide research effort to understand the basis of human heredity). The goals of the program are to promote a better understanding of DNA research among students, stimulate students' interest in the ethical, legal, and social implications of genome research, and interest students in careers in science. Teachers planning to have students use these resources need to participate in one of the program's teacher preparation workshops conducted each summer. More information is available on the Web site.
DLN: NASA's Digital Learning Network
NASA's Digital Learning Network™ (DLN) shares the expertise of NASA scientists, engineers, and researchers with students in today's classrooms to gain a new appreciation for the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. The goal of the DLN is to enhance NASA's capability to deliver unique content by linking students and educators with NASA experts. The DLN offers videoconferencing or Webcasting at no charge, providing interactive educational experiences to students and educators from kindergarten to university levels across the nation and around the world.
Degree Confluence Project
The goal of this volunteer-run project is to post a photograph on this Web site of each of the 13,584 latitude and longitude degree intersections in the world (whole-number values only!). Confluences in the oceans and some near the poles have been excluded. There is a confluence point within 49 miles of wherever you're standing. You can join the fun with a camera and GPS receiver. Participants must create an account or log a plan.
The Densho Educational Web site gives students access to a wealth of primary source material relating to the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Project Densho's partnership with historians at Stanford University produced curriculum to help students and teachers use these valuable resources in classroom activities. This is a powerful tool to bring inquiry-based learning into middle and high school social studies classrooms.
Sites with Multiple Projects
CIESE Online Classroom Projects
The mission of the Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) is to help teachers use the Internet, math software, CD-ROMs, computer-based laboratory systems (CBLS), and other tools to create dynamic, inquiry-oriented classrooms that promote achievement of content standards in science and math. To this end, they offer a number of interdisciplinary projects grouped into four categories: collaborative projects, partner projects, real-time data projects, and projects using primary sources and archived collections.
ePals Classroom Exchange
The mission of ePALS Classroom Exchange is to offer safe, innovative ways for learners to make contact with other cultures. They currently connect over 4.5 million users from 191 countries, speaking 136 languages, by providing built-in Webmail language translation and safety features such as monitored e-mail and profanity filters. All of the tools and resources on the site are free to anyone with a computer, anywhere in the world. The site also offers collaborative projects that students can join, as well as tools for creating projects and contacting students in remote locations.
Global SchoolNet partners with schools, communities, and businesses to provide collaborative learning activities that prepare students for the workforce and help them become literate and responsible global citizens. The Project Registry has more than 800 online projects providing teachers a chance to collaborate and share learning experiences. The most recent partner programs include "Mosaics of Life" (a global art project culminating in the creation of eight collaborative glass tile murals made up of original art and expressing understanding, concerns, and insights in themes that affect and shape lives both locally and globally) and the U.S. State Department-sponsored "Doors to Diplomacy Competition" (an educational challenge for middle and high school students about the importance of international affairs and diplomacy, with prizes including scholarships, cash, and a trip to Washington, D.C.).
The International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) is a non-profit global network that enables young people to use the Internet and other new technologies to engage in collaborative educational projects that both enhance learning and make a difference in the world. iEARN has hundreds of projects to join (some with a nominal joining fee). Some have been ongoing for years, and many have received national/international recognition. An example of a new project is "Proverbs and Idioms." Facilitated by students and teachers in Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, and India, it is a worldwide exchange exploring the commonalities and differences in proverbs throughout history and culture worldwide.
This site by author Judi Harris is designed to help teachers design and implement curriculum-based telecomputing projects. The Web site is organized into rooms that include resources and links to projects that use various types of communication and information technology. There are rooms for projects involving Interpersonal Exchanges (e.g., keypals, global classrooms, electronic appearances, telementoring, question-and-answer activities, and impersonations) and for learning activities involving Information Collection and Analysis (e.g., information exchanges, database creation, electronic publishing, telefieldtrips, and pooled data analysis). In another room, teachers can search an index of over 500 projects by grade level, date, curriculum area, technology used, and complexity of project. Global SchoolNet calls this "the one central place on the Internet where you can find projects from across the globe to bring into your classroom." This "one-stop shop" contains descriptions on projects from reputable organizations such as iEARN, IECC, NASA, GLOBE, Academy One, TIES, and Tenet. You can also add your own project to the registry.
These resources are duplicated from the Microsoft in Education Innovative Teachers Network website: Peer Coaching --> Coaching Tools -->Community Connections --> Projects Teachers Can Join.
That is a fantastic list to provide some inspiration to my teachers. I am a technology specialist in our school and I really want to inspire another teacher to get started in a collaborative project. I am going to make it one of my priority goals for this year. Sometimes it is hard to get started, but with the list you provided, it should be a bit easier.
Last year I had the opportunity to "Pilot" a project in my classroom. My district's policies for the use of online tools by students is VERY limited. My students worked with a school in Alabama. During our project we did the same labs and covered similar information. Lab data was collected via Google Forms and students were very surprised at how full the spreadsheet was after everyone at both schools added their data. We used a wiki to share our information. My thrill was seeing 7th grade students actively involved in edits of spelling and grammar. I did not expect to see that happen.
What recommendations can you give me on how to approach my district to open up the policies so we may do more indepth collaborative activities?
Have you thought about having the students make a presentation to the adminstration about the project they were involved in? You can touch upon the standards that you covered while the students share their information and how it impacted their learning. Questions the students can discuss might be how they felt more engaged in the topic, or how much they learned from it. Or, maybe have students develop some projects that they would like to do and have them present them to the district for permission.
Many districts are very tight about student access on the internet - which can be understandable. But the internet offers so many tools to help the students engage and learn. I think you are starting right by doing "pilot" projects. Sometimes you just have to start with babysteps and work your way up.
Thanks for the reminder about involving administration when having students share information from projects. When I have done this in the past, the administrators were shocked at how much information students were able to obtain - and the depth of their understanding. (Once, I was lucky enough to have an Assistant Superintendent visit my room and learn from my students about their project. He LOVED the learning he observed.)
I'm working to earn the title of "Pilot Project King " in my district. If I ask for enough pilots, I might be able to gain that distinction.
And a few more:
A place for K-12 teachers to find other teachers for cross-classroom collaboration.
Partner with another Country
This is a great opportunity to do a year-long project corresponding with and learning about life in another country. There are ready-made lesson plans, multimedia presentations and project ideas. An expert can come and talk to your class in the spring.
Internet Sites Supporting Project-Based Teaching and Learning
Most of my classes have collaborated on projects or activities with other schools, however, most of these have not been based on current events or social issues. I am currently taking Edutopia's PBL Camp and thinking about a project based on the BP Oil Spill for next year. I am also thinking about having my 8th graders join the Digiteen Project this year and a friend and I are starting to work on an Internet Safety project for our 5th grade classes. Here are the collaborative projects & activities that my students did last year:
- KinderKids Draw - Connecting Kindergarten classes worldwide using art & VoiceThread
- How Tall is a 1st Grader - a 1st grade project about height & measuring
- Winter Wonderland - Technology rich activities for Kindergarten - 3rd grade based on a winter theme on a collaborative wiki. The most collaborative activities for students have been things like a card exchange, a Holiday Traditions VoiceThread & a Describe a Snowman activity. Activities change each year. I'm one of the organizers of this one.
- Monster Project - Lower elementary project which involves students drawing & describing monsters and then switching descriptions with another class and trying to redraw their monsters.
- Voices of the World - An international project to connect students using their own voices & languages; no age restrictions but my 4th graders were often one of the oldest classes involved.
- Time Zone Experiences - A 5th Grade project about Time Zones
- What Are Your Goals For Education - My 7th & 8th Graders watched Obama's speech at the beginning of the year and then set their goals for the year and invited other classes to participate; we did have one other school participate.
The most difficult thing for me with collaborative projects is that I only see my students for a limited time each week since I'm in the Computer Lab so it makes it hard to finish things in a timely fashion. It's also hard to do anything synchronously since we're on the West Coast of the US and I have all of my classes in the afternoon.
The wiki for the PBL Camp is at http://pblcamp.pbworks.com/ - this is where people in the "camp" are working on creating plans for their projects. There are discussion forums about the project at http://www.edutopia.org/groups/project-based-learning It's actually been very interesting though I've not gotten very far on my project due to my partner being out of town w/o a computer. I didn't want to just do it from my point of view as a computer lab teacher. I have done projects in the past but most of them not involved with current events so this one interested me.
As far as classroom teachers jumping in, not too much at this stage. The 2nd & 3rd grade teachers did do the writing portion of the Monster Project during class which definitely helped. This is one of the reasons I was interested in trying to do something with your class and Johnny Tremain but the Language Arts teacher is still out of town without a computer. She's not due back until right before school's back in. I know she normally does that novel at the end of the year which doesn't work for you.
The PBL Camp looks really amazing. Too bad it's sold out, but I still love all the resources found there, especially the other sample project and activity ideas. I've bookmarked it for further exploration.
Yes, with the 8th grade literature choices, we have to follow along with the 8th grade social studies curriculum so I start with Johnny Tremain to help lead the students up to the American Revolution. During the Civil War unit we read Stealing Freedom move on to Reconstruction with Tom Sawyer and finally WWII with Night.
I'm starting to explore the possibilities with Johnny Tremain now. Even thought about comparing/contrasting the Boston Tea Party with the Tea Parties today not as a political agenda, but just to have the students explore the similarities and differences. Not sure yet.
- KinderKids Draw - Connecting Kindergarten classes worldwide using art & VoiceThread
This discussion led me to thinking about the coming year in my classroom. I wondered what I might do to include more collaborative projects. The discussion made me to look at my core in detail. I wondered what parts of my core led towards collaboration. I've not solved the problem yet - still thinking about it.
What key words do you look for to decide if content fits with collaborative projects?
How do you decide if the project should involve outside resources?
What process do you use to identify appropriate local resources?
The way I determine when to make a project collaborative is two-fold.
Experts - I search for experts when I simply cannot answer student questions on my own or if I want to drive home a point more effectively. If you were to talk to someone from NASA about air pressure, gravity, etc along with the student activities, websites, and other experiences they have, it gives a real world connection and another level of understanding.
Questions to ask yourself when considering experts:
- What curriculum units do students have the most difficulty understanding?
- Is there an organization, local company, or someone I know who could assist in helping me teach this unit?
- Are the students creating a product (webpage, dance, community improvement plan, structure) that an expert might help to assess? Take a look at this example from Edutopia on how a high school geometry class teamed up with a local architect firm to design schools for the year 2050.
Partner Classrooms - I set these up when there is opportunity for students to investigate different perspectives. This is perfect for cultural information exchange or on a science note, an ecological discussion. Talking to students along tropical coasts or in Australia about the Great Barrier Reef certainly lends itself to amazing discussions since those students are geographically closer to hands-on resources we couldn't easily obtain in our land-locked regions. Partner classrooms are also great for data collection projects (which are the easiest to do).
Questions to ask yourself when considering partner classrooms:
- What curriculum units focus on perspective? The Being Green Project my students did with the students in Wedderburn, Australia is an example for this. I partnered with Anne Baird (an amazing Australian Intel Master Trainer) for students to discuss global environmental changes. The project used Visual Ranking and Showing Evidence along with the wiki for students to conduct research on environmental conditions and energy consumption. Here is a full article on the project for more information.
- What in my own region could my students possibly be experts on? (biomes, industry, culture)
- What data collection could be done by students in multiple regions? An example of this is my kindergarten Here Birdy, Birdy Project. Kindergartners from multiple schools collected data on the color and number of birds outside their classroom windows for a semester. The data was shared and graphed on a wiki to be analyzed by the kindergartners. Talk about an amazing experience for those little guys, too. We are planning on launching this project again this year (YAY!)
Hope that helps you get started, Glen. I can't wait to hear what you come up with.
What a timely post. I am in the process of putting together my first international collaborative project. Fingers crossed that it goes well! I am in my 2nd year of I teaching 7th grade social studies. I'm still in the process of putting the wiki together with all the information, but here is the link if you'd like to take a look. http://onedayoneworld.pbworks.com It is not finished right now - and is a work in progess so any any comments would be greatly appreciated.
My goal is for students to realize that even though they are different, they are similar. I have the question "How does where we live affect how we live?" on my board all year. As we talk about different regions I ask the students to think about how that region affects how the people live there - housing, food, hobbies, etc. I think my students will get more involved with the question when they actually get to collaborate with those who live in that region.
There is not a lot of collaboration that goes on in my school with other schools. I worked at the high school for several years previous to this as a technology integration consultant and had several classes that were collaborating with other schools and even businesses. I would love to open the middle school up to the world of collaboration outside of our school.
I teach 7th Grade Science - your list does not fit into a collaborative project my students can participate in. I, however, will (with our permission) share your ideas with the 7th Grade Social Studies department at my school. I think you have some fun ideas and hope my students are able to participate with you.
I am considering what we might do as for Project-Based Learning in my 7th Grade Science class this year. If you have someone who studies Density, Cells, or Genetics - I may be able to connect and design a project with them. (That depends on my district altering their policies on student work online. We have a VERY strict policy and I may have to request doing another "Pilot Project.")
I have two 7th grade Science teachers that I can pass the information on to. I will email them right now to see if either one of them would be interested in collaborating with you. My district is pretty open in a lot of what we do. Teachers have access to pretty much everything, while students may not. But, if we can show a legitimate educational purpose they will open, at least for the time frame that we need. I will let you know as soon as I hear back from one of them.
Collaboration has become one of the new buzz words in education, like "cooperative learning" was quite a few years ago. The problem is that people use the word without always being cognizant of its true meaning. While cooperation and social skills are absolute necessities for collaboration, they are not enough. True collaboration is becoming more and more important in 21st century careers.
It is imperative that our students learn to collaborate effectively on meaningful projects. This year my students will be doing some collaborative projects requiring both face-to-face teamwork and online collaboration. One of those projects will involve research and a presentation on factors leading up to the Texas Revolution. We will be using such Web 2.0 tools as a wiki for gathering their thoughts, resources, and conversation; Google apps for working simuntaneously on documents and a slide presentation; and Glogster to create a visual one-pager of their final product. One of the wonderful things about combining face-to-face and on-line collaboration techniques is that each process taps into the different learning/ thinking styles of our students.
As they work, we will have class meetings about how the collaboration is going and how to problem solve when it's not going well. We will make parallels to how a variety of factors that caused the revolution are similar in ways to interpersonal conflicts in the classroom. Students will discuss how important ongoing communication is if we want to avoid irreversible confrontations. This process will give them experience in collaboration as well as opportunities to discover themselves and their classmates as learners and problem-solvers.
As far as "the missing links" for teachers starting collaboration, the biggest obstacle is the idea of classroom management. When we ask students to do collaborative projects, we are not longer the center of attention and the focus of energy. We become facilitators instead. Our focus has to bounce around from group to group to be sure things are progressing effectively. Organization and management are very different than the traditional classroom and takes a whole new perspective. The other big obstacle is access to technology and the internet. Even iin classrooms with plenty of computers, teachers need to learn more about how to access Web 2.0 tools and use them productively.
It's a brave new world out there and we must be brave in venturing out into that 21st century frontier!
Liz, I love the the project and all of the "collaborative" and "communicative" resources you have planned for the students to use. I hope you will post links to the finished work. This is quite an ambitious unit and I wish you the best.
I totally agree that the students must use effective collaboration and to that end I would be interested in knowing what types of assessments you will be using along the way to make sure they are collaborating effectively?
PBS Teacherline has a great Collaborative Project online course entitled Communicate and Collaborate Online: Tech 330. Communicate and Collaborate Online is designed for teachers of K-12 students who are interested in exploring the power of the Web and learning about new and exciting ways to communicate and collaborate. Using tools such as Wikis, blogs, and social media sites, as well as e-mail, discussion boards, and video conferencing, the possibilities for creating meaningful educational experiences are boundless. In this course, you learn about today’s student and today’s technologies; ways to develop and participate in educational learning networks; and methods for finding, creating, and participating in classroom online collaborative projects. For the final assignment, you create an online collaborative project plan and participate in your own learning network by posting in an educational blog.
Attached is an example of one of the participants who took the coure. I will try to get her to post and tell you more about her experience and project.
Here is also her weather wiki that she used as a complimentary unit of study to the "Square of Life" project.
I have just finished the Intel Essentials 10 course. But the week before I was in Calgary Canada for the Smart Exemplary Educators conference. We were tasked with a collaborative project to complete for Smart. There are four other teachers from all over the country in my group. We will be using Bridget, Google docs, and skyping so that we can work together to complete our project. I cannot disclose the project until Smart decides to publish it but it is interesting and I think that all the students and teachers that use Smart products will benefit from the end result. What we are learning to do by working together from different parts of the continent will translate to my classroom. It gives me a model to use for when I ask the class to take on such a project with students in other places.
Hi Marilyn! Welcome to the Engage Community.
I can tell you that you will find some wonderful opportunities with collaboration this year. If I could give you any advice about working with your team collaborators it would be the following:
- Create a collaborative calendar with all the days your students will be out of school.
- As a team, determine when milestones of the project are to be done. That makes your lesson planning less stressful all around.
- Take photos, photos, photos and share those in a collaborative web album such as Picasa, Flickr, or Troovi. You'll be surprised how often you'll return to the photos not only this year, but in the future when you reflect on the project.
Can't wait to hear more about it this year. Be sure to keep us posted.
I work with an organization called Caretakers of the Environment International (CEI). http://www.caretakers4all.org
We use the environment as a platform to collaborate with both domestic and international partners. Many of these partnerships are enhanced by attending annual conferences. I recently returned from East Java, Indonesia (http://www.cei2010.org) and participated in the CEI Conference there. Our student's project called "One4One" is a tree-planting campaign to get one native tree planted for every Oregonian (that's nearly 4 million trees) by 2012. The project was inspired by an international video conference that we hosted last November where an Indonesian school was doing a "One Man One Tree" campaign in their community. We collaborated and did a shared presentation at the conference this summer. The experience was amazing! The next conference will be held July 2011 in Hungary.
The USA Branch is always looking for more state chapters to participate. There are a slough of other international branches, too.