I am so excited! As this blog post is being read, I am either on my way to my second TCEA or I have arrived in San Antonio.  Last year, presenting at TCEA truly changed my life and my business, TannenbaumTech. I made some amazing connections that helped me take my mission of empowering educators to use technology to amplify student learners by creating artifacts of learning to the next level.  I met educators that I had only known online and they became friends. I was only there two days last year- but this year, I will be there all week. I have 4 sessions- two 90 minutes sessions and two 60 minute sessions. They are all newly revised as I add my learning from my ISTE certification journey to my work. Plus, I have 2 vendor sessions- one for Pear Deck and one for EdPuzzle. Come to any or all of my sessions for easy to implement strategies, book giveaways, of course, stickers and empower your fellow educators and students with what you take back home with you!

Reviewing what are the ABCs of Transforming Learning are-

Two weeks ago, I shared a blog post called J = Jump Into Tannenbaum Tech's 3 Cs of Creation. So many times when we decide to add more creating into our educational settings, it can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, using Tannenbaum Tech's 3 Cs of Creation makes it so much easier to determine whether a tech tool is a good match for the students you serve. Not only do they address UDL or Universal Design for Learning as they provide our students more ways to share their learning, but they also provide both ISTE Standards for Educators and Students. So let's jump into the 3 Cs of Creation.

This week, we will focus on K = Kick Off Collaboration Activities Even With Your Youngest Learners.  After writing my blog post two weeks ago, I knew that this blog post had to be next. Getting our students to create is essential, but helping them to collaborate can be easier said than done. This post scaffolds best practices I have discovered to scaffold this journey and ensure success.

K = Kick off Collaboration Activities Even With Our Youngest Learners

Two weeks ago in my last blog post, I shared how you should jump into my 3 Cs of Creation and explained how three of my favorite programs, Wixie, Book Creator and Canva, demonstrate these characteristics: Choice, Collaborative, and Clickable.  This week, I am going to dig deeper into the middle C- Collaborative. To be honest, I talked a good game about collaboration for a long time- but I was hesitant to try it with my youngest learners for a long time. Last spring, I decided it was time to walk the talk and began collaboration or team challenges with my students in Kindergarten and First Grade.

Getting Started

I knew that I needed to be really intentional if this would work.  Back in April 2022, I  wrote about how it was finally time to try out partner projects with my young students, but just like any digital task, I needed to make sure I had the necessary scaffolds in place. I decided that my students would work on three weeks of partner projects. In each of these projects,, students would be learning about something to broaden their perspective using PebbleGo  and then enrich their learning by collaborating with a peer inside of Wixie.  

Why is this so important, you might ask.  To answer that, I went to  ISTE Standards. In the ISTE Standards for Students,  the Global Collaborator 1.7 Standard states, 

"Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally

Set Up Project Parameters

1. Choose a familiar platform 

The first thing I did was choose a digital tool that my students were already familiar with.  I chose Wixie because it was the one that my students were most comfortable with and had collaboration capabilities.  If you are looking for ideas of programs to use, I suggest either Wixie or Book Creator. They are both platforms that are user friendly and offer collaboration options.

2. Set up project parameters

During this sequence of lessons, I wanted my students to focus on learning how to respect each other’s digital space and how to respond to each other in a respectful and meaningful way.  Besides those two outcomes, I wanted the rest of the lesson components to be familiar to them. To do this, I decided that each week for the three weeks would consist of a similar task. Students would learn something using PebbleGo, create something based on that concept, and then reflect on their peer’s work. Each week’s focus was different, but the workflow remained the same. In addition, I asked the classroom teachers to suggest pairs that they would use during the entire sequence.

3. Provide scaffolds to ensure success

After designing the project parameters, I wanted to clearly label each student’s workspace in each pair. I decided to use colored pages for this purpose. All yellow colored pages had links to check out or directions to help students. Then in each pair, one student used the red colored pages; while the other student used the blue colored pages.

I also scaffolded further between my Kindergarten and First Grade students. I assigned the pairs in Wixie for my Kindergarten students; while I showed my First Grade students how to invite their partner into their “team.”

Last, I set up an edurubricon that went through my expectations and included visual cues for each partner’s expectations. I wanted to be able to refer to these expectations, both at the start of the lesson and throughout the lesson. 

Kickoff Time

Ready or not, I jumped in with both feet and tried our first collaboration activity.  My students got to read about different kinds of weather first and then use clothing pieces to create a suitcase. Most of my students did pretty well with this first part. Of course, they needed lots of reminders about which colored pages belonged to them. They struggled a little when they had to comment on their partner’s work. Back then, Wixie did not have speech to text capabilities; so most of them drew pictures about their partner’s work

Reflect and Adjust

After  each lesson, I was lucky enough to not only have time to reflect, but also to make small tweaks as needed. One of those tweaks was splitting my screen so students could see their partners on half of the screen (and I could see who was what color page) and having the edurubricon on the other half. Another tweak was giving my students video and audio options on their commenting pages. 

Final Thoughts

Each time I did these activities, I would become more confident in their collaboration. They were learning how to respect each other’s digital space and how to comment on their peer’s work. But the best reward came later in the year when I saw one Kindergarten student helping his partner. I asked what he was doing and he replied, “He’s my tech buddy and when one of us needs help, we help each other. “ That is truly priceless. If you work with littles, try this out- you will be so glad you did.