Planning a Collaborative Project

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What is a Collaborative Project?

A Collaborative Project involves more than one classroom, group of students, or school in a project in which there is a curricular focus. Collaboration can occur via email, Skype, distance learning, video conferencing, etc. Educators have many options in order to find collaborative resources and partners. Many resources such as distance learning can help facilitate a collaborative project. There are many projects already created, however there are many ways in which educators can look at their curriculum and find other educators who want to work together to broaden student learning.

Here is an interesting article on collaboration Stronger Together: Make Project Planning a Collaborative Practice

Here is a podcast that illustrates several different collaborative projects.

Video Conferencing and Collaboration

Whether you are using distance learning to explore collaboration opportunities or not, you may want to read this information to help you navigate the collaboration process: Why Use Video Conferencing?

Classroom Management and Assessment

To help prepare for collaboration, look for another teacher who has successfully collaborated. Ask what aided the success, what they would change, and what may have hindered part of the process.

This article is helpful Forging New Connections: Building Online Peer-to-Peer Collaborations

Here are some guidelines to aid in Classroom Management:

  • Set expectations - ensure that your students are prepared with rubrics, written/spoken directions, and expected take-a-ways
  • Guide students to success during all collaborative interactions and extended projects. Again, written directions such as rubrics can help students keep focused
  • Communicate why you are videoconferencing – introduction, enhancement, or culmination of a project
  • Implement pre-conference material
  • Encourage students to think of questions and other discussion items prior to collaboration
  • Ask for student input prior to and after collaboration
  • Allow for flexibility - technology is not always reliable. Have a back up plan in place.
    • Collaborate via computer or phone connection such as Skype
    • Email or post parts of project on a wiki or website in order to meet a deadline
    • Have a back up date in mind to reschedule if needed.

Live Distance Learning - Best Practices: Before beginning Live Distance Learning, have them take a look at these resources. They help define what should take place before, during, and after a Live Distance Learning to ensure success.

  • Virtual Learning Experiences Best Practices - these tips will help educators understand what to do in order to have a successful Virtual Learning Experience.
  • There are many aspects as to why one Live Distance Learning is better than another- have educators read this Finding Good Connections so they understand the importance of a good provider.
  • Here are some great Resources that you can have on hand when presenting Live Distance Learning to educators in your district.

Pre-connection considerations: The following are ideas to consider before you connect, collaboration, or create a new project.

  • Before you connect:
    • School day schedule
    • What type of resources are available in school building
    • Goals of the project (Essential Questions)
    • Pre and post learning
    • Length of collaboration or project
    • Frequency of communication
    • Type of technology to be used

Decide the Technology that you will use: There are many ways to collaborate with another classroom. Here are a few ideas of the technology involve. It is important to contact your district representative to determine the type of connection that will work best with your classroom and the project.

    • Polycom System - Camera and speaker system, high quality.
    • Video Cam - great for Class-to-Class
    • Webcams - Flexible, great for small groups, but low quality resolution.
    • Instant Messaging - Such as skype that allows for ongoing chat, can add camera and voice.
    • Live Webinar - Presentation is on one end, ongoing chat is possible with live voice. (An example would be Illuminate Conferencing)
    • Websites - ePals, Taking it Global

Dissecting Your Curriculum

In order to collaborate, you need to understand how the collaboration will fit within your curriculum. Are you seeking a partner in a different region of the state, country, or world? Are you looking for a language connection? Literacy connection? This will drive the process and direct whom and where you connect.

This video will show how other educators have utilized video conferencing into curriculum: Virtual Learning Experiences

Think about how the students were engages and how educators are opening the doors of their classroom so that students become global learners.

Student Interest Have your students view the video and gauge their interest. Do they have any thoughts on the collaboration process or project? A quick poll may lead you to a project you may not have considered.

If you have a particular curricular aspect in mind, you can either create a project from scratch with the input of the other collaborative teacher, or you can find a collaborative resource that will suit the needs of your students.

Ways to dissect curriculum

  • Go through each subject and find out which would be enhanced by a different perspective, collaboration, distance learning opportunity, and/or a larger group to partner.
  • Start small - focus on one aspect of one subject level
  • Create a road map or time line to facilitate

Here are some examples of collaboration:

    • Reading the same book
    • Learning about the same geographical area
    • Cultural exchange
    • Language exchange
    • Long term pen pals
    • Geography
    • Local/State/Country history

How to embed in curriculum: The following resources offer a plethora of information when embedding Live Distance Learning into your classroom curriculum.

Researching Collaborative Possibilities

Help Educators Connect with other Educators There are many Live Distance Learning that can be done in a Class-2-Class situation. These resources will point you in the right direction in order to make those collaborative connections.

Different types of Live Distance Learning Opportunities:

  • Class-To-Class- Class to class initiatives are often called point-to-point connections.
  • Collaboration - A collaborative project can involve many teachers and students in our local area, throughout the US or around the world.
  • Adobe Connect - great for a small group to meet, talk, and view a slide show.
  • Skype - this type of communication is great for one-to-one collaboration of if there isn't another viable option for distance collaboration.
  • Vendor Program - Collaborations that are created and offered by specific vendors through out the world.
  • ePals - Collaboration opportunities throughout the world in which teachers, students, and classes collaboration via email or a blog. Great for all grades and ePals collaborates with National Geographic in order to create engaging projects for students to collaborate.
  • Taking It Global - Geared for High School Students, Taking It Global is a great way to collaborate with students around the world in order to expand Global Awareness, Social Consciousness, and Global Humanitarian Issues.

Ideas for Different Subject Areas

Since there are many resources available, you may want to discuss collaboration as a whole with your school team and/or other educators who teach your subject. This will help bring them into the mix and perhaps have additional insight into the collaboration process.

This video highlights student collaboration: Technology/Robots

  • Mystery Quest
  • Visiting Author
  • Poetry Slam
  • Debates
  • Musical Exchange
  • Improvisational or other theatrical exchange
  • Distance learning or sharing of knowledge
  • Math and/or Science Brainteasers
  • Mock Trials
  • Foreign Language exchange

How To Connect

Firstly, you need to have some type of focus before you search for a collaborative partner. Then, you get to explore the infinite possibilities that surround you either in your school, district, city, state, etc. Your only limitation is lack of creativity.

One place to find a collaborative partner is the Monroe #1 BOCES website

Possible Vendors to use:

    • Kid2Kid Guide - this guide illustrates curriculum integration as well as opportunities for class-2-class virtual learning experiences.
    • eLearning Wiki - provided as a forum to list virtual learning experiences as well as other distance learning opportunities. The eLearning wiki also allows for comments and edits.


List of resources:

This article describes the instructional applications of collaboration - Why Use Video Conferencing

Live Distance Learning Opportunities

You may be aware of the many opportunities out there, but here are some great resources to share with educators to view in order to fully understand the variety of Live Distance Learning available.

Ideas for Different Subject Areas

Collaboration for a Class-to-Class connection:

eLearning Wiki - provided as a forum to list virtual learning experiences as well as other distance learning opportunities. The eLearning wiki also allows for comments and edits.

New York State Distance Learning Consortium

  • Contact teachers within your district or through your contacts.
  • Contact your district representative for videoconferencing in order to find opportunities
  • Contact your BOCES to learn of collaboration opportunities.

Create your own project:

Developing a Project:

When developing a project, there are many things to consider.

    • Essential Question:

How does collaborating via Live Distance Learning enrich student learning?

    • Who to connect with:
      • Expert - published author, expert in field, political figure, actors, musicians, scientist . . ***Use an existing program or project (see Kid2Kid Guide for examples)

BOCES Contacts

How to Contact BOCES If you have any questions contact, would like to collaborate, or discuss collaboration, please contact:

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