Over the past two and a half years I’ve been focusing on helping teachers make connections with other classes around the world. For the most part, our collaborations have been about general topics – book reports, water, persuasive writing, enhancing oral language, things that almost any classroom teacher would be able to connect with, and they’ve been great!
But this year, inspired by Clarence Fisher‘s ThinWalls project, I’m looking for something new, something deeper. A real connection based on shared goals and common assessments. Something that will last longer than your average globally collaborative project. A classroom connection, based on specific curricular needs, that will last an entire school year.
I’m fortunate to be working with so many wonderful teachers at ISB and around the world that are willing to be patient and wait until we find just the right classes with just the right needs. They are willing to build these collaborations from the ground up, focusing on student learning, and taking the time to plan meaningful and authentic experiences for all involved.
In order to ensure that all classrooms involved share the same goal for the project, we are following the Understanding by Design model of curriculum planning. And to make sure that we’re all in it from the ground up, we’re planning via a Google Doc. Although I’ve used Google Docs at school with team members a lot, I haven’t yet used them for curriculum planning across time zones and schools. I’m looking forward to seeing how it works out.
So far, all of the project participants are listed on the Doc, with contact info and class details carefully noted. We have determined the basic focus of the unit and are starting to share tips and advice with each other. Over time, I’d love to use the Doc (or a Calendar) to plan common events or activities.
For example, here is what we have so far for this project (all a work in progress):
- Good readers use strategies to deepen their understanding.
- Good readers read fluently and with expression, paying particular attention to the conventions of grammar.
- Authentic audiences encourage good reading and writing.
- Collaboration and communication both inside and outside the classroom will prepare students for being productive citizens within our global society.
- How do I use reading strategies to deepen my understanding?
- Why is fluency important?
- How does my audience influence or affect my reading and writing?
- How does collaborating with others help me to learn?
- Student self reflection
- Teacher self reflection
- Class blog as portfolio
Goal: Your goal is to entertain your audience with personal stories about reading strategies
Role: Broadcasting team: On-Air Personality/Show Host, Producer, Writers, Mixing Team, Manager
Audience: Peers at ISB, both younger and same-age, partner classes around the world
Situation: You need to teach your audience effective reading strategies
Purpose: To collaborate with your team to effectively communicate reading strategies to a wide audience
Supporting activities ideas to build understanding (brainstorm):
- commenting quality – rubric for commenting
- specific points in the year where you pick an earlier piece of writing that you rework and link back to old version to see the growth
Planned activities to support learning (brainstorm):
- Introduction to online safety
- Introduction to blogging
- Introduction to GarageBand/Audacity
- Podcasting a written piece for fluency
- Posting a podcast
- Read a story from a book for practicing fluency to be podcast later
- Developing quality commenting skills
- Collaborative teaming to develop a podcast focused on reading strategies
- Reflective pieces of writing on the blog
I love the idea of being able to plan a curricular unit for several classes all from one Google Doc. This is my idea of collaboration – everyone literally on the same page and working towards the same goals. Although I’ve done quite a few of these projects before, I usually ended coordinating via e-mail and never really “flattening” the planning process – I inadvertently usually had all planning go through me.
This type of process, with the project clearly outlined, is the way I would normally plan a project with a classroom teacher face-to-face. How amazing and easy it is to now do the same thing, anytime, anywhere, with a Google Doc!
I’m hoping that this transparency in planning, and the clarity in goals for the unit, will help us stay focused throughout the year and enable us to dig deeper with our students.
What do you think? Have you ever used a Google Doc to plan this way? Have you ever had shared curricular goals that are ongoing throughout the year with another class, in another country? How did it go?
Tags : assessment, blogging, Chrissy Hellyer, clarence fisher, collaboration, Columbia, curriculum, Global Collaborations, google docs, grade 5, lucy caulkins, melanie holtsman, planning, podcasting, readers' workshop, Reading, students teaching students, The Reading and Writing Project, thinwalls, Ubd, Understanding by Design, writing
Categories : 21st Century Learning, Elementary School, Global Collaborations, Pedagogy, Technology Integration