Sunday, December 2, 2007

Collaboration Beyond the Classroom Walls

I've been thinking a lot about collaboration. Trying to find a class outside the United States to collaborate with my kids has actually been frustrating. You would think that a teacher who champions educational technology and participates in educational online communities would have no problem. Here's the reality. After a number of false starts, I have yet to identify a good project. I've even been trying via iEarn, an organized collaborative community. The project initiator has not returned my email. I'm going to keep trying, but I've had similar issues with other organized projects.

There is a series of steps to this process, all of which have to work out, for an online collaboration to take place. First, you have to locate another teacher who shares your vision or interests. Once you make contact, it's important to communicate effectively and work together to set up realistic time lines. Finally, both sides must be flexible when obstacles pop up that change the original plan. I can't seem to get past step one.

So, this leads to another thought. Perhaps collaboration begins at home. Maybe I don't have to go halfway around the world for effective collaboration. (Though, I am going to keep working on this.) My third graders are working with another class of seventh graders at our school. They are writing about what life would be like if you lived in a .... This is taking collaboration beyond my classroom walls and benefiting both groups here at home. I'm learning a lot about running a good project that will hopefully help once we find a worthy online project.

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