I had many different ideas and thoughts about what I wanted to do for the final project. I decided another unit plan was the best option for me, but then I needed to figure out who to collaborate with. I know from reading many of their blogs that Holly Fraser and Linda Grunwald both teach in early years which is close to my students age so I figured they would be the best people to collaborate with. I immediately emailed both of them and asked if they’d be interested in some kind of collaboration.
Both ladies agreed to work with me so we began sharing ideas and common topics or themes we may be covering as we close out the school year. With the kids being a bit different in age and different sets of standards we finally agreed on the having the kids share their ideas about ways humans can reduce their impact on the environment. I will be using the NGSS K-ESS3-3 Standard stating: “Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of human impact on the land could include cutting trees to produce paper and using resources to produce bottles. Examples of solutions could include reusing paper and recycling cans and bottles).
The next big topic was how we would have our kids share their ideas with each other since skype is a bit difficult due to the time zone changes. I enlisted the help of my tech coach and the ideas took off! We decided to use Easy Blogger jr since I had began teaching it to my students and it is a very easy to use and for the kids to access. My tech coach suggested we begin interacting with more school as well. We had to figure out exactly how all this would work, but after several meetings and time spent with my tech coach, The Little Ideas Swap Blog was born! My tech coach did a lot of work fancying up the initial blog page (I still have yet to learn how to do that) and found another school in Taiwan we may communicate with as well. We decided to have groups with about 4-5 kids from each school in a group interacting with each other.
I shared our ideas with my students and even showed them pictures from Holly’s school in Switzerland, the school in Taiwan and Linda’s school in Bahrain. Needless to say, the kids were very excited! I then had all my students do an introduction video with a basic information on something they like to do for fun, then ask what the others like to do. We all watched the videos on the whiteboard and discussed the importance of being careful with what we post and blog, as anyone can see it. A few of the kids were playing around while making the blog and we all noticed it, so it was the perfect opportunity to teach some basic digital citizenship guidelines and talk about a positive footprint on the web.
At first, nothing seemed too real for the kids, but then Holly had some of her kids respond to my group (the red group) so I showed the entire class her kids’ responses! This brought about tons of excitement and realization that there are kids on the other side of the world talking to them! We are still waiting on Taiwan and Linda’s school to join, but as soon as they do, I hope we can begin conversations with their students as well. I know my kids are eagerly awaiting every school to join in!
This all just happened this past week (as well as their grade level assembly) so we are still in the processing of working on our communication and adding in the ideas of sharing their ideas of how humans can reduce their impact on the environment. I have just introduced the subject to the students in science and we are working on opinion and persuasive writing, so this will be a perfect time to tie it all together.
I am very excited to see the other schools join and more conversations to happen! So far, the kids will send a video blog in response to Holly’s class later this week and maybe begin asking more about their homes and places to visit. It may still be a few weeks before we get all to the science part, but in the meantime, the conversations and getting to know one another can continue!
This is all new for me and I am thrilled to see where this goes! I really appreciate Holly and Linda for joining and agreeing to do this. I also am very thankful for our tech coach as he is playing a huge role in all of this and it would not be possible without his help. I am very fortunate and just overly excited to see how this cross globe and cross school collaboration goes!