Now that our first few weeks of school are over and things are beginning to settle into a more manageable pace, I am finally starting to work with our individual classroom teachers to get the technological ball rolling.
One of my major goals this year is to continue with the sort of global collaborations I was doing last year in KL. Of course, just as I was really starting to develop a great middle school personal learning network and an awesome set of same-age-group collaborators, I had to go and switch myself over to elementary. Hence the somewhat sparse blogging as of late. But, I’m starting to find my groove here at the PK-5 age group and some exciting things are starting to take shape.
In the last two weeks or so, I’ve worked with a few of our willing classroom teachers on developing exciting new projects that infuse authentic use of technology at a global level. Here are our current projects:
Two of our five classes are going to work with Chris Craft on his Life ‘Round Here digital storytelling project. Our students are starting the year with a unit about culture, which is the perfect introduction to this project because it will allow us to adapt the concept for each student’s individual ability and interest. For the official project, we will only need six completed videos that fit Chris’ original paramenters, but since we will have around 50 students participating, we are hoping that we can differentiate both the content and the skill level for each individual student.
We’re thinking that a multimedia presentation about life in Thailand might be a bit tough for some of our kids, because most are expats and only spend a short time in each country. Therefore, the actual “official” submissions for the project might come only from those students that are ready for more of a challenge. Another group of students may make a video about their home culture, still another group may make a video about the school culture of ISB. I love that there’s plenty of room for growth and adjustment with this global collaboration so that we can make sure it suits the needs of our learners.
As an added bonus, both of the classes participating in the Life ‘Round Here project have decided to start blogging. Over the course of the next two weeks, each student in these two classes will start setting up their own blogs through Learnerblogs. We are seeing these blogs as a place for individual learning and reflection, metacognition, a personal journal of growth over the course of the year. We are conscious of keeping away from the “blogging as homework” dilemma in order to allow them to be the leaders in their own learning. Each teacher will have a class blog where students may be asked to comment, and we’re sure to have some writing prompts or guiding questions throughout the year, but we want to make sure that these blogs are a place for personal reflection, more than just a place to post homework.
Another third fifth grade class has just started learning about Native Americans and will be collaborating on a wiki to share what they learn. We’re looking at this as an opportunity to learn about research as well as presentation and collaboration skills. It would be great to find another grade 5 class that’s interested in participating with us!
One of our grade two classes will be working with Alecia Dry’s teachers on the Global Village project to connect elementary students around the world. The goal is to merge our two classrooms into one global village by conducting joint activities or projects once a month. We are going to focus on intercultural understanding and making connections between or different lifestyles. Because second graders are so young, I’m hoping we can set up a Ning with this group to let them learn and explore in a “walled garden” setting. I would love to see where they can go with all the easy to use embedded features that Ning has to offer!
I’m also hoping to set up blogs with our grade 4s and maybe start a podpals (like pen pals, only with podcasts instead of letters) in grade 3. I would also love to continue the 1001 Flat World Tales project with a grade 3 or 4 class if possible. Anyone interested in joining in? As always, I am open to all sorts of ideas, so if you’re interested in starting something new, let me know!