An Appeal for Collaboration, or at Least a Good Way to Focus your Summer Thinking

OK.  I’ll admit it.  I came to find all of these fabulous social media and international collaborative project opportunities at a point which I had limited access to classes, only via other teachers.  Earth, as Seen from SpaceThat being said, I often feel like I would like to sink my teeth into some hugely collaborative project, or even just be associated with one.  There’s been a lot of talk, or maybe I should say, I am reading a lot of writing about:

  • Rigor: How do we allow students to achieve flow-the right balance of challenge and stress to optimize learning in our classrooms?
  • Relevance: Are we teaching with the values, thoughts, feelings, and experiences of our students in mind?
  • Relationships: Are we respecting students’ lives and cultures?
  • Results: Do we have measurable, tangible results that represent our ideas and goals?

as they relate to individual student motivation.  A truly collaborative, either locally or globally, project stands a great chance of really getting at those four elements if done well.

So, in an effort to further my selfish aims to be associated with a collaborative project, I offer this:  one of the teachers with whom I am working on designing curriculum for our new writing and critical thinking class sent me the following email:

I am interested in incorporating the idea of a global classroom into several of my units. I know there are sites that are dedicated to hooking up educators so that they can participate in these kinds of exchanges with their classes. I just don’t remember what they are or how to get them. I kind of remember someone, it might have been you, providing us with some links that let classrooms from various corners of the world work together on a common project. I am very interested in reaching out to several teachers across the globe and linking up. At minimum, I would like to give our students access to the differing perspectives that naturally arise out of geographical differences.

She’s talented and extremely capable of pulling this off.  We worked together back in November of this year to Ustream her classes Just One Less Summit, which some of you out there were able to attend virtually.  Here are some samples of what she plans to do next year:

  • Food Wars: based on Salt and Fast Food Nation
  • Mental Fitness: How mentally fit are you?
  • Question Authority: Media Literacy: How can I identify the underlying messages in mainstream media?
  • Disconnected: I Text, Therefore I am: • How have humans communicated throughout history?
    • How and why is communication different throughout the world?
    • What is the impact of human communication on a given society?
    • What are the benefits and drawbacks to different forms of communication?
    • What might human communication be like in the future and what factors will influence these trends?

First off, you can’t imagine how jealous I am of this group of teachers to be able to teach a class that lets them answer these types of questions, but also how jealous I am of these students that they get to wrestle with such cool content.  If you are interested, or know of someone who might be interested in some form of collaborative project under these unit topics or others like them, please drop me a line in the comments below.  This is a 7th grade class (12-13 year old students).

Image Credit: “Earth, As Seen from Space,” by por2able’s photostream on Flickr

Somebody, please help me realize my dream..

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11 thoughts on “An Appeal for Collaboration, or at Least a Good Way to Focus your Summer Thinking

  1. I teach 6-8th Grades and would be very interested in doing something with you if the logistics make it possible. Some info. that will help decide if it’s feasible to work together:

    I am on MST, USA.
    I have 160+ kids for 9 weeks, only 43 mins. a day.
    Then I get a new group. 4 Qtrs. thru year.
    2 of my classes are 7th Grade, about 55 kids.
    I would be happy to do any level 6-8 with you.
    We start 8/18 and 1st Qtr runs to mid-Oct.
    We are already registered w/Think.com if you use that at all.

    I’d love it if you could kindly email me at LSSHANKS at D11 dot org so that we could discuss details.

    I’m LSShanks on Twitter if you want to DM me.

  2. Patrick,

    This sounds like a great opportunity and I think several of my 7th grade teachers would be interested. Drop me a line and we can talk possibilities.

    Cheers,
    Pat Woessner

  3. @Suzanne:

    I have forwarded your contact information to Laura for her to consider. Thanks for the response. I am pretty excited about the prospects of this. We are in New Jersey, so we would have some minor logistics, but nothing we couldn’t handle.

    @Pat:

    Let me know what you can come up with. We actually have three teachers teaching these classes in 7th grade, each with 100+ students over 5 classes.

  4. Patrick, In a position similar to yours I too an anxious to work on a collaborative project. I believe I would be able to find a middle school teacher who would be interested in participating. I will have those conversations over the summer and let you know what I find out. Thanks for posting this.

  5. Pat…

    This idea looks like a winner…

    I have had several teachers at our school involved in global collaborative projects…I know that there are several more just looking for the right opportunity…would love to be involved…

    Jeff

  6. I am facilitating a Global Collaboration workshop for out districts teachers this August. I expect to have about 25 teachers from all levels attend. The teachers will commit to implementing one project next year. The talking points in your questions are very thoughtful and I expect that there will be interest from teachers in this workshop. Please keep us in mind. Thank you for the invitation.
    Kathy

  7. Count me in! Our tech theme this year is collaboration and I’d like to get our 7th Grade invovled with the project.
    We are CST, about 39 kids (two separate classes) have them three times a week for 45min a shot.
    Any of these topics would interest us:
    Mental Fitness: How mentally fit are you?
    Question Authority: Media Literacy: How can I identify the underlying messages in mainstream media?
    Disconnected: I Text, Therefore I am: • How have humans communicated throughout history?

  8. I’m game as well. Have had some fun successes working with teachers across the globe this year and intend to continue that next year.

    We’re a charter school, grades 5-8, all abilities, and we have a nearly infinitely flexible schedule, so we’re usually easy to connect with for whatever time length is needed.

    My students all have Skype and we also have a really nice Polycom that isn’t used too often for school to school connections outside of Global Nomads Group (www.gng.org)

    You have my email here (gingerl essdack org and my Skype is GingerTPLC, as is my Twitter acct.

    Let me know–I love those big-idea topics that are listed!

  9. Thanks to all who are interested in collaborating with me on these projects. Please e-mail me at your convenience so we can start planning how best to have our students exchange ideas, information, and insights. I will be checking my mail all summer: Laura.Sofen@sparta.org

  10. This sounds great! I’ve worked with collaborative projects this year and would like to continue to further develop our connections. I will have a group of sixth graders to work with next year as part of the gifted enrichment program who could join in. I will also be presenting about collaborative projects this summer at the Pennsylvania Keystone Summit and would like to share your ideas if it is ok. Let’s see what is possible!

  11. We are kicking off the year by “questioning authority.” One of the ways we are going to do this is by analyzing how different mediums in different parts of the world handle the same news event. It would be great to collaborate with a few schools across the country as we find, track, analyze, and share what we discover about the ways in which a particular news event is covered. Please e-mail me if you’re interested!

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