Monthly Archives: December 2015

Collaboration, Let Everyone Shine


                         flickr photoshared by Dice.comunder a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license
Some of the most important learning to come out of this collaborative project for me has been about:

  • understanding how to find, show and share our talents to create something
  • recognising the frustrations as well as the  power of collaborative learning
  • understanding how ideas evolve through communication and connection, and that feedback is essential
  •  the importance of  getting to know team members
  • realising what my students experience and learn through working collaboratively and sharing

Credit goes to Tanya Irene for initiating this project and sending out the first invite about her idea on Google and to Sean Walmsley  and Tanya for being the driving forces throughout.  As soon as Tanya explained her idea, I wanted to be on board, for three reasons. First, I felt that it would be such a positive go to, hands on, resource for all teachers. Second, I like Tanya’s  positive, supportive and can do approach and  third I wanted to support her in spreading the word about Digital Citizenship at our school having already started working together on lessons with my class. I was excited to work with Sean Walmsley as I have been reading his blog since I started Coetail and enjoy learning about all of the projects his is initiating at AIS-R and beyond.  Credit also goes to Joel Bevans and Lauren Spector who came up with their own ideas when we realised the group was too big and unworkable. Finally, credit goes to all 5 of us who worked together across time zones and different perspectives. I really liked the diversity of the group which enabled us to  create something for everyone and for everyone to contribute, collaborate and ‘shine’.

Tanya Irene Lower School Technology Learning Facilitator at ISL Luxembourg

Sean Walmsley Tech Intergrationalist at AIS-R

Jennifer Keenan Grade 5 PYP teacher at Inernational school in Abu Dhabi

Magali Brutel specialist French teacher at ISL Luxembourg

and myself, currently Grade 1 home room teacher also at ISL, Luxembourg.

So this is a summary of our final project and our involvement as set out by Tanya on our shared google doc Course 2 Final Project

“Sean and I are looking at the big picture. We are trying to create an infographic for posting online that starts the conversation and thinking process but also identifies the ‘outcome’ and can be modified. It will cover everything we are learning in course two…use positive language instead of a ‘don’t or watch out’  approach. It might be printable and also ‘postable’ with hyperlinks and multi-media. We are also working on a slideshow to accompany it and a lesson plan. Suzy is contributing by backwards designing and trying out lessons with first graders that address some of the things that will be on the infographic, like digital footprint. Magali is doing the same, but with 5th grade French.”

The infographic covers all aspects of technology use,  and is a positive reminder to students about their online use. Jennifer and Magali worked together and  concentrated on getting students ready for blogging more specifically for older students, whilst I covered Early Years, concentrating on helping students to apply their understanding about digital footprints and digital citizenship. Early on in the process Jennifer suggested we build our lessons around blogging which was perfect for me as I wanted to extend my students’ thinking around how we use our class blog. My Ubd planner takes Early Years students through mini lessons which hopefully helps them to see what they can achieve through blogging.  Some of the activities I have tried with my Grade 1 students are linked to the infographic.

I applaud Tanya and Sean for creating such a clear and useful teaching resource, I couldn’t have hoped to work with two more inspiring people. Their infographic  includes hyper-links and multi media, which can be developed and modified. I really like the way Jennifer and Magali have addressed important issues around blogging with the older students, working towards creating a pledge that  the students can refer to. In Magali’s reflection in her blog post I liked her suggestion:

“I could work along the homeroom teachers. While they are teaching this unit, I could introduce the essential vocabulary to my students and have them write the pledge in French”.

Collaborating over different time zones , with people who are working in different cultural environments and have different perspectives was a powerful learning experience and process. Sean was excellent at making sure everyone had a role in the project and gave supportive feedback which I really appreciated. At first I felt daunted by working with two inspiring tech facilitators who have skills and understanding way beyond mine but then I realised the importance of everyone having a part to play and skills to contribute. What I have loved is getting to know more about these educators by following them on Twitter, following their blogs and initiating conversations on our collaborative google doc and understanding the power of a google hangout.  Through conversations with Jennifer Keenan, I have also hooked up with a first grade teacher Kelly Dao at her school, also a fellow Coetailer and we will start connecting our two Grade 1 classes through Twitter at the end of January.

Tanya had the initial idea for the project and I was excited to be on board, we work closely together and she has always been incredibly supportive whenever I have tried to implement the ‘ why ‘ culture of thinking when using technology.  She has understood from the beginning how important it is to me to plan learning activities around making meaningful connections for the students so that their online experiences can be  purposeful and authentic. And if their use of technology is going to be meaningful and purposeful then I needed to teach them the skills and give them the tools to be able to do this. One of the most powerful aspects of the Coetail course for me has been the sharing of ideas and my learning  with my colleagues. The collaborative project in course 1 with Joel Bevans called Making Connections has been implemented in Grade 1 and is preparing our students to join the global project, Out of Eden Learn . So I really appreciated the reading and learning in Course 2 to help my colleagues and I understand the importance of preparing our students appropriately for their lifelong online journey.

During my reading for week 4 on  Digital Citizenship the quote from this article by Kayla Delzer stood out:

“As soon as children have devices in their hands, they should be educated about digital citizenship and their digital footprint.”

and Richard Byrne’s article, The Importance of Teaching digital Citizenship:

“Digital Citizenship not only teaches students the etiquette involved in being a smart and effective participant in a digital world, but it empowers and equips students with essential life tools to help them navigate challenging digital based situations.”

If we as educators start early, then we will be empowering our students from an early age. So here is my contribution to the project. I tried to devise activities that were relevant and accessible to Early Years students. Some of the activities have been tried and tested, some of them we are part way through, but my students are already well on their way to understanding about their online responsibilities and possibilities. More importantly, I now understand how I can help them get started on getting the most out of their blogging.

One of my goals this year has been to change the emphasis of my class blog from being a platform for students to share and show their learning to a platform in which they drive and control their learning, not knowing sometimes where it will take them.

In order to do this , I needed to teach the students about the responsibilities as well as the empowerment that blogging can bring. I also needed to initiate discussions with parents  so that we develop a common understanding and language. During Course 2, Joel Bevans, Tanya Irene and I held a parent workshop to do just this. This is only the beginning of the conversation. The unit I have designed around these issues will be explained and shared with the parents and colleagues on my blog and in future workshops.

Final reflection for the project and for my students

  • sharing ideas is powerful
  • collaboration is a process that needs careful planning, and is not always obvious
  • everyone has a role to create something of value
  • working with colleagues/students globally opens everyone’s thinking

Thank you all for the collaboration and for being part of my learning.