Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Working Together in Different Places

For our last assignment for Course 2 a group of elementary teachers decided to take on the AUP for the Elementary School at ISB. We decided to create a google doc with the original document so that we could all have input and make changes without physically being in the same place. Which was good because one of the members of the group was in Japan and not Thailand where the rest of us were. We all agreed that the language in the original document would be difficult for students to understand and since it is a document that students are supposed to understand and follow that didn't seem right.

As the document began to evolve it was clear that it was going to be difficult to create one document that would be kid friendly and developmentally appropriate for six grade levels. One document became two: K-Grade 2 AUP & Grade3-5 AUP. Then after some more thought, two documents became three: Pre-K-Grade 1 AUP; Grade 2-3 AUP; & Grade 4-5 AUP. They all have the same concepts and ideas in them they are just each written to fit the appropriate audience as best we could. I don't think any of us think our finished product is perfect probably because we know that with a project like this it's really never finished. The AUP's will need to change, develop, and grow as the needs do.

I would always prefer to work in a group rather than by myself. The whole "two heads are better than one thing". The use of google doc made this possible because all of the group members had packed schedules so actual face-to-face meeting were near impossible. It was interesting to see the work evolve and change in the short amount of time that we had to work on it. I did meet with two of the group members individually at different times to do some work and I have to say that I found those two meetings more productive than when I was trying to work on the project alone. So I guess in the end for me I still need a little face to face and real talk but this first experience of collaborating on-line was a positive and valuable experience for me.

To all of the members of the ES AUP collaborative group.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Building Blocks of Collaboration

"Are we preparing our students for a world of mass collaboration?"
"How do we prepare our students for a world of mass collaboration?"

It has taken me weeks to figure out how to address these two questions for me personally as a teacher. The idea of mass collaboration with 5 to 7 year olds is a bit overwhelming for me - blogs, wikis, chats, etc. Then I decided that mass collaboration has developmental levels just like everything else. Sometime I need to remind myself that sometimes to reach an end goal you have to start small with block at a time. So with that in mind - I'm ready to answer the questions.

I do believe that I am preparing my students for a world of mass collaboration. I am doing that by giving my students the skills that they need to cooperate during face-to-face social and academic situations. My students work together in partnerships and small groups to inquire, discover, make choices, learn, and teach together. They are developing the skills needed to take turns, participate equally, listen to each other, and give feedback. In my eyes these are the skills they will need to become effective mass collaborators in their very near future.

In the beginning I think it is important for students to know how to cooperate & collaborate face-to-face with others before they are introduced to the multitude of tech tools that are available for them to use to mass collaborate with students in other class rooms, at other schools, and beyond.

**While searching for information about collaboration and cooperation in early childhood settings I found Stepping Forward: Personal and Digital Learning in the 21st Century a blog that is worth taking a look at if you have the time.**

Saturday, May 2, 2009

It's All Just a Click Away

With just a click anyone can access, search, find, reach, look, view, contribute, collaborate, connect, communicate, comment, debate, blog, post, tweet, agree, disagree, read, review, research, create, shop, browse, buy, enjoy, interpret, learn, inquire, explore, change, discover, and . . . and . . . and . . .

Not only is everything a click away but over a billion people are also a click away. According to Internet World Stats, in December 2000 there were 360,955,492 Internet users world wide and as of March 31, 2009 the number was 1,596,270,108. That is an increase of over 300% in just 9 years. It is also over 23% of the total world population. So when you click the post button on your blog or social network your potential audience is over a billion. That number makes my head spin.

So - What makes the internet so powerful? I believe that the power of the internet comes from the activities it facilitates, the audience it reaches, and the people who choose to be active participants.

For all of the good things that the web facilitates we all know that there are just as many bad things that it also facilitates. There are times that the power of the internet can be harsh, as pointed out in Belloney's Blog post The Power of the Web. There are people that have to live with how devastating just one click can be.

Now the question is: How do we make sure that we teach our students to use their clicks to take advantage of the power of the web in a safe, positive, responsible, and productive way and not in a harmful, negative, and destructive way?