How many of you collaborate on various projects with students in other schools? Are the children the same age or varying? What has the reaction been? What are your successes and/or "ah-ha" Gestalt moments?

I've been dabbling with collaborating across schools with some initial success, but I'm not finding a lot of people who are "game" to get some action happening. I'd be interested in hearing success stories and any advice for getting the ball rolling.

Tags: PBL, action, collaboration, distance, projects, successes

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At Neveh Channah High School we have been carrying on collaborative projects with schools abroad for years. One of the pojects which we enjoy is a collaborative literature project for high schools sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Education (http://www.education.gov.il/ipncl).

For the last few years we have been working with Sharon Peters at Lower Canada College in Mpntreal.
The students communicate on a joint moodle environment learning about themselves and their way of life. We then choose and study literature of our country and present it to our collaborators and vice versa.
For this we have been using a wiki environment:
http://jerusalem.wikispaces.com/ and
http://montreal.wikispaces.com/

After reading our literature selelections about Jerusalem and reading our kids input, the LCC kids sent us a video with questions and comments about our selections:
http://montreal.wikispaces.com/LCC+Responses+Video

Our kids posted therir English Matriculation Research Projects here:
http://jerusalem.wikispaces.com/Research+Projects

and got peer review and feedback from LCC students on the discussion area of each project page and on the Montreal wiki: http://montreal.wikispaces.com/LCC+Comparisons+of+Literature. Most of the NC students responded to the LCC kids on the wiki discussion area and incorporated the suggestions they got into revision of their projects.

NC kids did a physical tour of Jerusalem, visiting many of the sites they had researched and posted a video clip to share with LCC students: http://jerusalem.wikispaces.com/ (mid way down the page).

Before Holocaust Remembrance Day - NC students read a Canadian story "Pastel Nazis" in class and wrote their reactions and reflections which will be posted here:
http://jerusalem.wikispaces.com/Pastel+Nazis

Sharon made a number of presentations about her collaborations including this one. Her slides can be viewed here:
http://3cs.wikispaces.com/CAIS-BP

Mrs Karen Guth whose English class worked with Sharon's class wrote about the project:

"I would say that this became a project that engaged the minds, skills, and hearts of our students. It turned the English Bagrut (matriculation) project into an international research, writing, thinking, and teaching opportunity."
Thanks Skip
{blush, blush).
There is muvch very nice work being done here in Israel, but not all in English.
I am expecting a big breakthrough soon as the new Minister of Education and head of the Pedagogic Secratariat are constructivists and are planning some big changes in the matriculaion assessments. This shouid increase the number of learning projects and collaborations in secondary schools greatly.
Reuven
Hi Ginger

The main collaborative project that I am leading this year has been a podcasting project called Youth Radio, in which schools from across the country and the Philippines have produced different kinds of audio pieces, posted on a blog and then wrote up reactions and comments. This is mostly upper elementary students.

http://youthradio.wordpress.com/

It's been tricky because we are all at different points in our curriculum at different times and the tech expertise is varied (there has been a big learning curve for some of the folks). Most of us are affiliated with the National Writing Project but not all.

The students have loved the idea of podcasting and I can say that hearing the voices of folks is a powerful medium.

One idea we wanted to do but never got to was to have students submit small segments of a larger story to one school, which then pulls all of the audio together as a narrative with all different voices. Maybe next year ...

Good luck
Kevin
Wow! I am SO delighted to receive this amount of information from just a few posts! I'm exicited to get in in and look through all of this! I work with grades 5-8 and the kids are willing to try anything! Thank you!
Hi Ginger,
Having successfully participated in collaborative projects in the past, I have to admit that this year I took on more than I could chew.
We started a collaborative project between my two 5th grade classes here in Israel and students in 2 Jewish afternoon schools in New Hampshire. The original idea was to have the students share information about their lives and communities through a private wiki on wikispaces, and in fact we got the wiki set up and photos and introductory messages were posted by most of the children. One of my counterparts in New Hampshire even posted videos of his students to the wiki. However, after translating the messages of 70 or so children from Hebrew to English, and vice versa, I realised that I wouldn't be able to keep this up throughout the whole of the school year and in fact we deserted the wiki project.

What success have we had?
All 3 schools sent Hanuka gifts by snail mail, these included handmade greetings cards and a token gift,there was a lot of excitement as each child received his parcel.
We are in the final stages of publishing a joint Newsletter about Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Day celebrations. The children's texts, games, pictures and comics will be published to the dormant wiki and printed out on paper.

Advice, be realistic about your own capabilities and those of your students. If there is a language barrier, choose your tools and mode of communication with care.
Thanks, Susan, for some really sound and practical advice! I can't imagine translating that many messages--you must have been so overwhelmed on top of the work already required of an educator! I'm sure the students really got a kick out of the connection, however. How exciting and kudoes for trying!

I think that if I go with Global Nomads Group, they have translators on hand for the video conferencing. I wonder if I were to do a written communications, if I'd be able to find parents, or university experts/students to offer some services...?

Do you think you'll try it again with different scaffolding for you in place?

Has anyone used any translating volunteers/services before (besides those we can find online)?
Please join the "Global Lean"

blog at http://globallean.edublogs.org
AND NING http://globallean.ning.com

Give the world a voice in a joyful celebration of diversity!

Thanks! Peggy Sheehy
Please join the "Global Lean"

blog at http://globallean.edublogs.org
AND NING http://globallean.ning.com

Give the world a voice in a joyful celebration of diversity!

Thanks! Peggy Sheehy
Hi Ginger,
I have used ePals (http://www.epals.com/) for the past 3 years to partner my 3rd grade students with a class in rural Belize. The first 2 years were a learning curve (they were also my first 2 years of teaching!), but this year has been great. We have shared read aloud books and subsequent book discussions, exchanged information about school and home life, and we are now starting a collaborative science project on conservation.

The ePals site is a good resource regardless of whether or not you use it for monitored email. The teacher forums are a great way to connect with motivated teachers from all over the world on a variety of topics for all age groups. I have used the forums to start a global project about kites involving social studies, math, science, and of course literacy. There are now 11 schools participating from every continent.

Jonah Salsich
Ginger,
I've a perfect spot for you to find international collaborative partners / projects: GVC - Global Virtual Classroom [www.virtualclassroom.org] Best of all, it's all free!

The major projects of the GVC are the annual Contest and the Clubhouse Program. During the Contest, teams from schools from around the world compete in an effort to build websites that best meet contest objectives.  Each team is made up of students from schools in different countries working together.  The websites are judged on the quality of their content and presentation, effective collaboration, and a focus on helping others through knowledge or activities. 

The contest runs from October through April, with winners announced and cash prizes awarded in May. 

The Clubhouse is a non-competitive flexible program focused on collaborative learning. Projects can include any topics such as: language class exchanges, environmental research, collaborative science projects, and discussion groups.  This program can begin at any time and last months or multiple years.

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