|Why do you suppose the lady avatar in the audience is standing up?|
She is blocking the view of the other lady avatar in the back!
Julie and Vicki brought up the point that administration can be the barrier or can remove the barrier. So true! An administrator once told me that the children in my classroom were using too much technology. After she said that, I felt like I had to scale down what we were doing, even though I believed that our use of technology was helping the children grow academically and socially. Administration also blocked my attempt to work with a Canadian school. This time it was the other school's administration. They did not feel comfortable having their students interacting on blogs or private wikis.
In my opinion, once the administrative barrier is broken, the key to successful collaboration is to find teachers who are as enthusiastic about it as you are. They need to have the projects high on their priority lists; otherwise lack of time will always be an issue.
My favorite collaboration activities have involved skyping. The most productive skype session my students had was when they were working on bird reports. They compared notes with 2nd graders from Rummel Creek who were researching the same birds.
I plan to work with the same Rummel Creek teacher this coming year. FaceTime on the new iPads will be a perfect medium for our interactions. Students can also do some of their planning with edmodo. In the fall, we study national symbols and government. Here are two of the TEKS:
|identify selected symbols such as state and national birds and flowers and patriotic symbols such as the U.S. and Texas flags and Uncle Sam.[14.B]|
identify functions of governments.[11.A]
Government vocabulary is always challenging, especially for the ESOL kids. The best way to learn is to teach, right? It might be fun to break up the vocabulary list and assign words to students who have difficulty with them. They can teach their words to skype buddies who also struggle with the words (absence of threat). Later, they can design computer-generated quizzes for each other.
Children who need a higher-level challenge can design new national monuments with small skype groups. They will need to decide who or what the monument will honor, where to build it, what it will look like, etc. This will provide an opportunity for some good researching!
I think it is important that collaborative activities truly enhance learning and that they don't just entertain students. I'm definitely going to give my ideas some more thought before implementing them.