The second session between Prep and 34 proved that technology isn’t always reliable and patience is sometimes required.
The plan was to create some small group collaborative artwork using Flock Draw. After previously testing this out with friends from around Australia (and family from around my house) I had experienced success with 4 people being on the one canvas simultaneously.
I did not even consider that because all of the school computers were using the same IP address that the Flock Draw system run by Flash just wouldn’t cope and even though each computer was accessing the same canvas code (URL address) it was generating an entirely new canvas each time – with the same name!
Lucky for us our computer techie, Martin, came over and suggested another online paint application CoSketch. This time every Prep student and 34 student was able to get on to the canvas and contribute to the group artwork. Only with so many people the lag time was horrendous and by the time your drawing came up another one was over the top and everything was coming up in flashes of colour and lines. Nothing to remain on the canvas. There were too many cooks!
The 34s assisting the Preps to access our collaborative canvas
Working on CoSketch
The beginnings of some creative art
Collaboration #2 CoSketch
The future of the collaboration between 34 and Prep is to have another lesson in the next couple of weeks, again with CoSketch but this time working in smaller collaborative group with only 4-8students working on each canvas to create a targeted artwork in response to a text or other stimulus.
Joy and myself also have plans for ongoing collaboration to assist the incoming Prep students to get logged on and using technology at the early stages of their schooling and to build a partnership between the other Prep and 34 classes. We just have to get the ball rolling and show our school school community what is possible and the benefits of such a program being consistently implemented. Onwards and upwards!!!
It’s finally come to that time when the “official” part of our PD must come to an end. Culminating in a final face-to-face session tomorrow.
Now is the time to reflect on just some of the things I have done on my journey to promote 21st Century Learning and in particular – collaboration at my school.
After researching for countless hours for appropriate collaborative tools that would be suitable for the ability levels of my current cohort of Preppies and reaching out to my newly formed Professional Learning Networks, Joy and myself decided to physically team up our classes to try some collaborative tasks.
This first session saw the students use Today’s Meet. Each Prep and 3/4 student had one computer between them at this time and we asked them a series of questions relating to technology, what they love about it and what they would love to learn to do using technology.
Below are some snapshots from the discussions that we had.
And some photos of the kids working together:
Well we finally brought it together today when my classroom hooked up with our project school in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Thanks to our great IT Technician, Martin and Andrew Williamson for helping me succeed and getting everything working prior to our Skype call.
It was just great seeing how the kids interacted with their ePals and they each got given a chance to ask a question. We hope to do another Skype call before the end of the year when students from Colarado will ask my students a question. A couple examples of questions that my students thought of included ~ ‘If you were the Prime Minister (President) what would you change?’ and another question was ‘How do you get to school and what if it is snowing’? That in itself was a great question because it was snowing as we spoke. Andrew Miller the classroom teacher said that in the time he had been at the school a school day had never been cancelled. Apparently it needs to be -30 before that happens…brrrrrrr. His principal and vice principal were both present and were delighted to meet Cresten (principal) and Marg (vice principal) from Bell Primary. A number of parents stayed to watch the broadcast which took place at 8.30am our time and 2.30pm on Tuesday for Colorado. That in itself was a lesson for the kids, identifying how we were talking in real time however, they were a day behind.
I have gained a lot of momentum out of completing this project however, ePals is only as good as the teacher at the other end. They need to embrace the opportunity as well and I am thankful that I was paired with Andrew as he has the same thinking as myself and that is to take learning outside. Whether that be locally or globally, we both know it can work. We have already anticipated linking up again next year to complete another project. Unfortunately, due to technical constraints in their school, my Italian counterpart has lapsed which is a shame.
More to come.
My journey of collaborating outside of the confines of 4 classroom walls is now well underway. My students are still continuing to email their Italian counterparts via ePals. A project like this though can only be as good as what the teacher at the other end also brings along. For this school in Italy they are slightly computer poor but you know what?…they are doing the best with what they have and their emails are now filtering through to my students. The kids have uploaded Melbourne landmark images and attached cryptic clues for their ePals to research and then give feedback.
So with this all in mind I went one step further as you know, and my kids are now also participating in an ePals ‘Jump into ePals’ project. Last week students were introduced to forum discussions and they posted information about themselves and where they live in the world. We are into week 2 and this week will focus on sharing emails. We have been matched with a school in Colorado, USA. Andrew who is my team teacher for this project is a Grade 5 teacher from Steamboat Springs, Colorado and he teaches Grade 5. His community is small (15,000 population) and rural. Despite their relative remote location (3 hours from Denver) they have a world class ski resort and an amazing mountain living environment. They call Steamboat Springs Ski Town USA because more USA winter Olympians are from Steamboat than any other town in the USA. The kids are loving it.
Well the kids have started to receive emails from their Italian pen pals. They are asking each other relevant questions such as:
- What is school like for you in Italy?
- What things do you like to do outside of school?
- What are your favourite subjects?
- Do you have brothers and sister?
I guess at this point in time they are finding their feet with one another and trying to overcome the language barrier (thank goodness Epals offer an inbuilt translator in their email package).
My partner teacher, Livia and I want to give the kids a couple of week to get used to emailing and then we shall set a set question for pairs of children to research and work on together.
At Bell Primary our second language is Italian. Although we no longer have an Italian teacher, there is an expectation that we incorporate Italian into our weekly program. My Italian language is very limited so I needed to be creative in thinking of other ways to engage my students in the use of learning some Italian words.
Having used EPals before to collaborate with a class in the United States with a Grade 5/6 class several years ago made me once again go back to EPals to find a classroom and teacher in Italy who would like to converse with an international school.
Livia is from Genoa in Italy and teaches ICT to a Grade 5/6 class. She conducts lessons with two classrooms consisting of 44 students. This really suited my needs and another member of my team was really keen to join in. She is a second year graduate and I felt it would be a great learning opportunity for her to join in. It was also one way of bringing a staff member on board. It will be through her that hopefully other teachers will come on board with trying new and exciting learning opportunities for their students.
Livia and I set up personal Epals email for our students and then assigned students to each other. For the first email we encouraged students to introduce themselves and share information about their personal lives as well as school. They were also asked to consider some questions they would like to ask their Epals.
Several of my students received their first emails today and were so excited. The great thing about Epals is that you can translate what you write into Italian. Livia and I are getting the students to write in their native tongue and then copy what they have written before translating it into either English or Italian. They then paste their original message back into the email. This way students receive both an English and Italian version.
We hope that after writing to each other a few times that we can then start setting pairs a task or question that they can work on together. It is anticipated as we get to the end of the school year that we will try to do a Skype hook-up. The time difference may be an issue but I am sure we can work around it. Stay Tuned!
Welcome to our Collaborative 2 Blog.
As part of DEECD Endorsed Professional Development Initiative for Victorian Educators it is a great opportunity as a classroom teacher to be a part of Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century.
Collaborative learning is an educational approach that involves groups of learners working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product. Learning occurs through active engagement among students either face to face or online from within the school, wider community or internationally.
We hope you enjoy our posts and what we are aiming to achieve for our students.