Friday, March 06, 2009

Interested in an interschool, middle-school collaborative project?

The primary audience for this post is teachers and technology facilitators who might be interested in partnering on a Middle-School/Junior High joint English and Social Studies project in April 2009.

AfricaSeventh grade students at Dwight-Englewood School are studying the way in which colonial powers divided up Africa and the lasting effects of these political divisions on the African people. I have been working with two creative seventh grade teachers on planning a project for this unit that would involve sharing information and collecting feedback from students at a different school. While the planning for this is still ongoing, here is what we currently have in mind.

D-E students (two sections working in groups) will be charged with creating an web-based lesson (probably using a wiki) to be completed by the students at the school we partner with. Our students will present maps of the continent of Africa showing various divisions such as cultural boundaries, population, natural resource, etc. Each of our student project groups will also create pages of related content resulting from research on various aspects of the topic such has the specific effect caused by each of the European colonial powers involved.

Your students would be asked to use a web browser to read and comment on this content, which would probably include a guiding question to answer for each content section. At the conclusion of the lesson your students would be asked to reflect on this information and synthesize a response answering how they think Africa should be politically divided including annotating a map of Africa as part of the response. (There is no single correct answer to this question.) After the lesson is completed by your students, ours may do the same final exercise and share the results with your students.

Our students' goal would be to create a lesson that could be completed by your students in one class period assuming each of your students or groups of students working together have access to an Internet connected computer. D-E teachers will help guide
our students to stick with that length, but of course, seventh graders who have little previous experience creating lessons will be doing this so that won't be perfect.

The tools to be used for this have not been completely decided yet, but here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • Content will be created, viewed, and commented on using a wiki. I've had some recent, positive experiences with pbwiki so that will be the first one I checkout to see if it can meet the needs with regard to content security and user management.
  • Your student responses could be through wiki comments. However, there is some interest in providing the option of allowing audio comments to be left by using a tool such as VoiceThread. This might be particularly useful in providing a place for answering the final question that asks your students to annotate a map as VoiceThread allows commenting (text, audio, or video) combined with drawing on an image. We do not have experience using VoiceThread with students yet, and I have not worked on the details nor potential difficulties related to your students possibly needing to register and login to VoiceThread in order to comment so that complication may prevent its use.
As I can work out the technology tool details later, our first priority is confirming we have a partner school so we know this will be a viable project to be started very soon. Therefore, if you are interested in having students at your school participate in this project, please contact me (Bill Campbell) as soon as possible via email (campbb "at", Twitter (@BillCamp), or by commenting on this post (and including contact information in your comment).

Update 3/12/09:
I realize that I forgot to add that if you partner with us and would like our students to provide feedback on something your students create, we would be happy to do so. (Two classes at D-E are doing this project.)

Also, for those of you interested in the book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, I'm reading chapter 5 now, and I realized that the project we are proposing seems related to student-created, instructional content delivered through a "facilitated user network" as described in that chapter.

Update 4/2/09:
We will be using PBwiki to publish content and partner school students will respond via wiki comments. (Still investigating VoiceThread for final question.) Student research on the topic is already under way, and we will introduce the wiki to our student publishers on Monday.

I still don't have a firm commitment from a partner school so if you are interested, please contact me.


Joe Corbett said...

Bill, I really like the layout of your blog which is saying a lot because I visit a ton every week. Thanks for adding yourself to the Ed Tech Tweeps going to NECC 2009 I hop you get some great visits and follows out of it.

murcha said...

Hi Joe, thanks for alerting me to this with a comment on my global projects post. If you could let me know the dates to ensure we are not on school holidays, we would be interested in working with you, from Hawkesdale, Victoria, Australia

Bill Campbell said...

Hi Anne,

We would be looking for your students to explore and respond to our student created lesson sometime between April 20 and May 8. We estimate the time required by your students to be one to two class hours.

The teachers I'm working with are very excited by the idea of collaborating with a class on the other side of the world so if this seems to be a go, please email me at campbb at so I can loop the other teachers into the conversation. Thanks!