G'day, I'm Graham Wegner
, a teacher from Adelaide, South Australia and I'm looking to kickstart an inquiry project with "communication" as a broad theme for my middle school classes here at my primary school. There are four classes involved and I've arranged for my own class to liase with a blogging colleague's class in Alaska. However, my colleagues do not have the same online connections so I'm advertising on their behalf. Here's how I pitched the idea to my Alaskan colleague.
This year all of our middle school classes have adopted an overriding theme from our state's curriculum Essential Learnings. We have a four term year (just started Term Three this week) and the general themes were Identity in Term 1, Community in Term 2 with this term's being Communication. Every term the four classes, which are composite year levels (three classes are Year 6/7 [12 and 13 year olds] and mine is a 5/6 [11 and 12 year olds]) then co-plan some cross-curricular activities to explore the theme. For example, the Identity unit involved an activity called a "Me cube", plotting a sociogram of class mates based on things in common and other activities exploring cultural backgrounds.
So, our main mandate is fit with the Communication theme. Here's some initial ideas to consider. The teachers all have a class of kids who know very little about [insert your location here] , you'll have a bunch that knows the same amount about Australia. How about an online project that has each class exploring "I'm Moving To Australia/[insert your location here]" where we become each others' resource to explore and deconstruct aspects of life in our respective locations. It could start this way in my class - what do we know about [insert your location here]? If you moved there tomorrow, would you know what to expect? What changes would you have to make in the way you live?
We would follow an inquiry model - brainstorm what we already know (right or wrong) then create questions that we would need to have answered, these questions then are posed to the other class, answers exchanged (written responses, voice recordings, video grabs, website links, images) and then questions refined and the process continues.
My thoughts are the using the web as a mode of communication and a place where new meaning can be constructed could be potentially powerful for kids of this age group (10/11/12 year olds) - debunking preconceived ideas and then rebuilding new understanding. It could be as simple as investigating what kids do on weekends or eat for breakfast - differences and similarities - creating a dictionary of essential knowledge or phrases needed for survival in each others' locale - the students themselves could negotiate a fair bit.
So, have I got you keen? Is any of this remotely possible? I'm thinking a wiki as a great base for assimilated and evolving information (of all literacy types) but there may be better ideas. There are three great classes (who have my support should they need it) - make contact with me here and I'll put you in touch with the teachers.