Part of my final project for EDTC 6103 this quarter was to create and implement a Global Collaboration Project. I love the idea of collaborating with others. When I was in the classroom I did video conferences with NASA and the Alaska Sea Life Center and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Ontario, CA. I also helped 4th grade classes at my school participate in Where in Washington? which was a great project put on by OSPI for a number of years that brought together classes from all over the state.
I put the word out to some of the teachers I worked with and gave them some options to choose from to see what kind of project they might be interested in. Some were ones from the above list and one was a version of The Landmark Games. My class had participated one year in Terry Smith’s Landmark Games and we had a lot of fun with it. There was no direct video conferencing with the participants because they were from all over the globe and the time zone issue would have made it impossible. I figured we could create a version of the game to play locally.
Our 6th grade classes studied Ancient Civilizations for the first time this year and when I had a handful of 6th grade teachers from three different schools volunteer to help me we set off to create and Landmark Games of our own.
The initial plan was to meet three times by Skype in one day. Once in the morning so each class could introduce themselves and they could read the three clues to their landmark. We’d meet mid day so each class could ask 5 clarifying questions and then once at the end of the day to reveal the answers. I had decided that we would use a shared doc that each class would have access too so that the initial clues and their questions for each other (and the answers) could be public for all four classes and they wouldn’t have to take as many notes individually to speed up the process.
The four teachers and I met by Skype to do our planning because that was the way we were going to interact. It was good practice. We decided to do it over two days instead of one and narrowed it down to 2 Skype sessions instead of three. Finding two days was the tricky part since it was the end of the year but we managed. It was important that the teachers be involved in this process, not only to ask questions but to help make sure that the process was reasonable in terms of their time and energy a couple of weeks before school was out and to make sure that we were able to talk about roles, norms and the process.
On the first day, we met and the students shared their Landmark clues. The only criteria for the clues were that they had to include: 1) one coordinate (latitude or longitude), 2) at least 1 relevant associated historical date from the time period the ancient landmark was built, 3) hemisphere related clue. All four classes also had a student type these clues into the shared doc to make sure we weren’t slowed down by having to repeat the clues for everyone to write them down.
The students went back and had a chance to research. They could ask a total of 5 questions of the other three classes but they could distribute those any way they wanted to. We ended up just having them type them into the shared doc and then the class who was asked responded the same way with an answer.
We ended up having two days in between because of scheduling issues but we met the next day to reveal the Landmark. Each class had to tell us a little bit about the history of the landmark, why they chose it and why it was significant to history.
The feedback we got was great. One teacher said:
Yesterday we were going through the clues that you all gave, and your answers to the questions, and the class was spread out and working on all three at the same time. They were using the laptops mostly, but also atlases, the world maps, and even the globe! They were so engaged trying to figure out the clues, and every time they would find an answer, the class was immediately engaged in “fact checking” each other, and comparing clue answers with other clue answers. They’d get excited when they thought they had the answer, but were equally happy to prove an answer wrong, if that makes sense? This went on for about an hour solid, until I asked for consensus on our answers.
I asked the teachers to give a quick survey to the students afterwards. Here’s a quick snapshot:
It shouldn’t be surprising that the students loved talking to students from other schools and using Skype the best. It motivates them in ways that doing a similar project with another class in their own school doesn’t. I believe that having some accountability to strangers, i.e. changing your audience, can change the engagement not only in a social sense but in the amount of effort a student is willing to put into something.
I think the teachers who were involved have gotten a taste for how students can participate with each other using Skype and they’ve seen an example of how they can use it to do something purposeful. I’m going to make sure they have links to Mystery Skypes next year and I’m considering trying to put some sort of database or shared doc together that teachers from other districts could also use to find teachers who’d like to do similar projects.
Here’s the link to my reflection paper on the whole experience.
Smith, T. (1990). Global Landmark Games. Retrieved June 01, 2017, from https://www.kidlink.org/drupal/project/landmark