Two Heads Are Better Than One- Collaboration for the Win!

Far too often as educators, we operate as silos. Teaching the last few years have been unlike any other year and the stress and burnout are real considerations. Yes, most educators meet in professional learning communities, but implementation can vary widely. Some schools may focus on student data, while others may focus on a prescribed agenda or a planning framework. But far too often, we don't build in enough time for true collaboration with educators both inside and outside our buildings.

Why is this so important? As I have shared before, I am working on completing my ISTE Certification Portfolio and one of the standard I am gathering artifacts for is 2.4 Collaborator:

2.4.a Dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology.

How are you using planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology? In this blog post, I wanted to share some examples to get you thinking about this.

Collaborating to Build Connections Between Two Specials

Last month, the librarian at my school, Mrs. Oberdick and I met to see if we could collaborate for our kindergarten and first grade classes. Since we are both the only person who does our job in our building, we were looking for ways to build connections between our two specials. Students in Kindergarten and Grade 1 go to Library each week for 30 min and Technology each week for 30 min. We wanted to design an activity that no matter which specials students had first, they could get a lot out of the activity.

As we discussed ideas and saw that both grades were going to focus on maps soon, we decided to create 3-4 experiences for students in different places around the world. In my technology classes, we would "visit" these places on Google Earth first, read about them using Pebble Go, and then make a commemorative stamp in Wixie. In her library classes, she would read a story about the place we would learn or had learned about and then have students work on a variety of activities based on that location.

Building Connections From Week to Week

As Spring Break begins in my district, we just finished this unit. I love the connections that students are making not only between these two specials, but from week to week. In our technology classes, we have been working inside of a Wixie "Passport Template."

  • During Week 1, students learned how to take their picture in Wixie using the Camera feature and then used Pebble Go to learn about our first adventure- the Colosseum. Afterwards, they watched a video tour of the Colosseum and drew a commemorative stamp about their adventure.

  • During Week 2, we visited the Eiffel Tower. Once again, students learned about the location using Pebble Go and then drew their commemorative stamp,

  • During Week 3, they visited the Great Wall of China and explored the location using PebbleGo and drew their commemorative stamp.

  • During Week 4, my first graders finished this up last week by exploring the Serengetti National Park.

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Celebrating their Accomplishments

This post would not be complete without highlighting some of their amazing work- check out the photo gallery to the left, But more than that, I want to celebrate the impact of this unit for my young learners.

When I asked the students about if they enjoyed the collaboration between myself and the librarian- all my students shared that they loved it.

They loved using Google Earth to see the location in real time and then learning about the place with me in technology and creating their stamp.

Then in library, they read a story from that location and explored that location more with hands on stations.

What's Next?

Last week, Ms. Oberdick and I sat down to plan again excited by our latest collaboration. She shared how she wanted to share books that also became movies and I shared my desire to have my young learners began to work collaboratively in Wixie. Together, we created three phenomenal weeks of activities that I can't wait to share with my learners.

  • Week 1: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in Library paired with Packing for Weather using Wixie in Technology

  • Week 2: Curious George Visits the Aquarium in Library paired with Make Your Own Aquarium using Wixie in Technology

  • Week 3: Gruffalo in Library paired with Pattern Block Monsters using Wixie in Technology

For these three weeks, my young learners will work with a partner to complete the activities to the right. One partner works on the red pages; while the other partner works on the blue pages. I can't wait to see how this latest collaboration between specials AND between students turns out!

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