Archive for the ‘Collaborative Projects’ Category

Using Skype in the Classroom

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Skype is a free download that enables users to make video calls using a computer. Skype can be used in the classroom as an easy way to expand classroom walls to create amazing learning experiences. Teachers can connect with experts, share ideas with colleagues, and provide opportunities for students to learn from others around the world.

Mystery Skype calls are one way to bring geography to life! Mr. Avery’s Classroom Blog describes how he used Skype to enhance his class. Students were given the task to determine the location of a class in another state by using clues. Students could only ask yes or no questions. When given a yes answer, they could then ask a follow up question. Students were assigned various roles in the activity, including inquirers, question keepers, Google mappers, runners, logical reasoners, and clue keepers. Each role played a part in helping solve the mystery location, and provided opportunities for students to practice reading maps, using online mapping tools, working together, and using problem-solving skills.

Image: renjith krishnan /


Skype in the Classroom

Skype in the Classroom is a global community of educators who partner to create learning experiences for their students. Imagine using this resource to communicate in real time with students in neighboring cities or states. Think about the opportunities for students to practice foreign language skills with students from other countries. Students might participate in mystery Skype calls, where classes connect online and give clues to help each guess the other’s location. They might also have opportunities to learn more about the setting of a book they are reading or a subject they are studying. The site provides the means for teachers to connect through a members-only directory and includes a directory of resources such as videos, websites, and teaching ideas.

One project from the site was an invitation from a teacher in Bahrain who was hosting an online safety conference. He was interested in connecting with a guest speaker knowledgeable about the topic of online safety and cyber bullying. This idea caught my attention because it could be adapted for a variety of subjects. For example, a teacher might invite a university professor to speak to a class about science-related topics or host a university counselor to speak to students about college admissions. Speakers from another country or region might provide information about their culture. Skype in the classroom opens endless possibilities for collaboration with experts in a range of fields.

Image: Stuart Miles /

Resources for Authentic Assessment

In The Case for Authentic Assessment, Wiggins noted that authentic assessments provide opportunities for students to apply acquired knowledge, instead of selecting or writing responses to test questions. Through authentic assessment, students can demonstrate mastery of concepts through the application of knowledge. The School of Education at The University of Wisconsin-Stout offers authentic assessment resources for teachers. The site presents information regarding performance assessment, rubrics, negotiable contracting, and electronic portfolios, as well as web-based tools that can be used to create assessments.

In looking for resources to be adapted for use in my online classes, I found rubrics created by Joan Vandervelde of UW-Stout to be used for the assessment of e-portfolios, online discussions, student blogs, wikis, and the use of Twitter for instructional assigments.

Another resource contains a complete description of peer assessment and team assignments. The article presents issues to be considered when implementing peer assessments, considerations for team grading, and tips from teachers who have implemented peer assessments and team assignments in their classes. This information could be applied to the planning of collaborative assignments that can be assessed in a way that is fair to all students.

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April 23, 2012 Leave a comment

A WebQuest is a collection of weblinks that are organized to guide students through the learning process as they develop a finished product. WebQuests can be designed to be completed in a class period or to cover a month-long unit and are usually intended to be completed in groups. They are created using preselected resources so that students don’t waste class time searching for information.

What is a WebQuest? is an excellent resource for learning how to implement WebQuests in your classroom. The site explains the WebQuest concept and the basic format and presents tips for evaluating quality. To help you get started, the site includes WebQuest collections and guidelines for creating your own WebQuests. WebQuest 101 provides an excellent guided activity to help you create high-quality WebQuests. The site offers many helpful suggestions for planning and implementing WebQuests in your classroom. The site explains how to choose websites to be included in a WebQuest, how to improve a WebQuest after it has had a trial run with your students, and how to evaluate students’ finished products. This WebQuest is an example of the skillful use of Wikispaces for designing a WebQuest.

WebQuests were created by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University. Tom March was another pioneer in the development of the concept. Since 1996, San Diego State has maintained a database that contains Webquests for many subjects at all grade levels. Tom March also maintains a collection of WebQuests. Dodge developed a rubric for evaluating WebQuests which can be helpful as you select or design WebQuests to be used in your classroom.

Image: renjith krishnan /

Cool Cat Teacher

At Cool Cat Teacher, Vicki Davis presents information about the many ways that she uses technology in the classroom. Her site includes technology tutorials, teaching tips, education-related news, and links to sites that can be used in the classroom. Davis sponsors “Flat Classroom Projects” that provide opportunities for global collaboration between classrooms at all grade levels. Davis explained that “The concept of a ‘flat classroom’ is based on the constructivist principle of a multi-modal learning environment that is student-centered and a level playing field for teacher to student and student to teacher interaction.” In the article, Digital Citizenship, Davis and Lindsay (2010) provide an overview of The Flat Classroom project, and explain the opportunities included in the project. Another article published by the pair, Flat Classrooms, describes the origin of the project.

Davis provided an excellent explanation of the ways that she used wikis for instruction. Students uploaded lesson summaries that contained vocabulary words and lesson concepts. They could access the content for at-home study. They also posted collaborative notes and created information wikis to explore new topics. She described a project in which students reached beyond the classroom walls to share important information about Internet safety. She also used the wiki for authentic assessments that replaced exams. For one assessment, students selected computer equipment for a family member and made recommendations regarding computer specifications to meet his needs. Another entry showcased a project in which students created virtual “study halls” for various school subjects. In her entry, Davis described the excitement generated by the project.

Davis’ suggestions for using wikis in the classroom could be used in a multitude of ways for almost any subject and grade level. For example, in a secondary business classroom, students might create sample business documents such as cover letters and resumes and post them to a class wiki. Students could also post notes related to the job application process and include information related to job interview skills. A class wiki would be an ideal place to post pictures of appropriate professional dress and to share other relevant information so that the entire class would have access to relevant resources.

Image: Cammeraydave |

e-Pals Global Learning Community

The e-Pals Global Learning Community is a safe social learning platform that can be used in K12 classrooms for communication and collaboration with classes around the world. The site allows teachers to link their classrooms with others for the purpose of engaging in collaborative educational projects. The project database can be searched by classroom profiles, country, by project, or by perusing teacher forums. All projects are linked with national standards.

The Digital Storytelling Classroom Project is featured on the e-Pals Projects for Collaboration page. The Project Overview explains that students will learn about the ancient practice of storytelling and then tell a story using modern technology tools. They will participate in an email exchange to discuss the process as they develop a story topic, write a story, create or find appropriate images, and share and reflect on their story. The project includes the following components: Essential Questions, Objectives, Culminating Activity, Project Elements, and National Standards.

This project would be appropriate for a variety of classes and could be adapted for any grade level. A look at the Digital Storytelling Teacher Forum reveals a range of classes from first grade through high school who would like to collaborate on this project for history, African American Studies, and language arts. In a middle school technology classroom, this might be implemented as an integrated project to include objectives from American History, language arts and technology. Students could interview World War II veterans and record their stories using technology tools. It might be interesting to partner with a classroom in Japan or Hawaii and compare stories from the perspectives of residents of those areas.

Image: Ken Cole | Agency:
The image above depicts part of the Second World War Memorial in Washington, DC