After a very relaxing trip around Thailand (Krabi, Ayutthaya, Bangkok and Chiang Mai) with some friends from Munich, I’m gearing up for a few new projects in the second semester:

1001 Flat World Tales Project (grade 4)

I had a blast participating in this collaborative writing project begun by Clay Burell last year. This time around Jeff Dungan and I are coordinating the Elementary School section. We have 12 schools already signed up to begin in late January/early February. I’m especially excited about getting this project started, not only because we had so much fun with it last year, but because I’m hoping (fingers crossed) that I learned from my mistakes last time around and will do a better job from the get-go this year.

One big issue that the middle school section dealt with last year was the different expectations that each teacher had for their classes – some were doing the project as a full-class experience, others were only giving it to certain students, still others assigned it as extra credit, and some made it optional – all of which made it very difficult to set deadlines and to ensure that all of the peer-editors were working at the same level. This time, I’m hoping to split the ES section into smaller groups before we involve the students so we can set up clear expectations from the beginning. This way the students see their peer-editors around the world as equal partners, as opposed to occasional partners.

Another idea that developed towards the end of the project last year, that I’m planning to bring in early on this time around, is the option of writing a “choose your own adventure” type story – using links to allow students to create alternate endings for their stories. Jeff had the great idea to allow the collaborative partners to write alternate endings for their partner stories as well, which will be very interesting.

I would also like to see some students really embrace some multimedia additions to their stories this year (though I know this will be more of a challenge for the elementary students than it was for my middle school students last year). We had a few students that illustrated their stories last year, and I would love to see some narration, via podcasting, or some video, along with the still images. I’m also hoping we’ll get more dialog about the actual stories if they’re a little more interactive. All of this definitely depends on the time that the classroom teacher can devote to the project of course.

Finally, I want to make sure that we have one story that ties together all of our stories. Last year, the only way we could navigate through the stories was to click on each individual student name. This time around I’d like to have a small group of interested students take the time to string together all of the stories from one class into one well-linked, totally connected story.

This project has so much potential – I can’t wait to see where it goes!

@manyvoices Twittory (grade 5)

I love the idea of this “quick and dirty” collaboration developed by George Mayo – something short and sweet that we can finish in two days or less. At this point I’m still “courting” our various upper-elementary classroom teachers to see who’s interested, but I really hope I get at least one class on board. I love the fact that the project allows for collaboration, but in such an easy and short time-frame that it really doesn’t have a chance to “take on a life of its own” that so many large-scale collaboration projects do.

Kindergarten Connections (kindergarten)

Back in December, I was totally inspired by Maria Knee‘s kindergarten classroom VoiceThread about their ABCs. I had been looking for an easy, but dynamic, collaboration for our primary classrooms and when I saw this perfect example of kindergartners creating a VoiceThread, I knew it would be a great match. It looks like we will connect her class with one of our kindergarten classrooms here, most likely using VoiceThread, but

Small Moments: Grade 1 ESL Writers (grade 1)

We have some absolutely fabulous ESL teachers here at ISB – in particular, Erin in grade one and Diane in grade five – that have just started their own classroom blogs (please leave a comment for them!). Erin was also inspired by Maria’s class VoiceThread and is interested in having her students write and illustrate a “small moment” for later narrating and posting on a VoiceThread. Hopefully, we can get a collaboration going with some other grade 1 ESL students so that we can share our stories and comment on each other’s work.

Considering my goal at the beginning of the school year was to conduct at least one globally collaborative project at each grade level (and I’ve still got the Connected Classroom project taking off in grade 4, World Village in grade 2, and Xtreme Learning in grade 5) it looks like the only thing I’m missing is a project for grade 3… Anyone have any suggestions?

Tags: elementary, 21stcentury, globalcollaborations, internationalschool, flatclassroom, collaborations, 1001 Tales, Maria Knee, Clay Burell, Jeff Dungan, @manyvoices, mrmayo

4 thoughts on “New Projects for a New Year

  1. Amazingly rich and varied collection. I can hardly believe you just started at ISB in August. I think you must have more than 24 hours in each of your days. Thanks for keeping me thinking about what works for elementary students.

  2. Thanks Susan! Sometimes it feels like I’ve been here for a lot longer than 6 months ;) Honestly, I’m inspired by our staff and our admin – it’s such a treat to set these projects up and watch them roll. Though none of them have been perfect – I think it’s time for a “learning from my mistakes” post like you’ve shared!

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