Tag Archives: Flat Classroom

Digital Citizenship Through the Lens of Social Awareness

This fall my students are participating in the Flat Classroom Digitween Project, one of many global collaborative project founded by Julie Lindsay and Vickie Davis. Students around the world participating in the project study and explore digital citizenship and how to be responsible and reliable online learners. The purpose of the project is to educate and promote responsible online choices as well as immersing students in an online educational community for learning and collaboration. Students collaborate researching and writing a report using a wiki and create a school-based action project that is documented on the wiki.

In our technologically advanced world today, digital citizenship can mean a lot of things. The project is organized according to the five areas of awareness that relate to being a digital citizen: technology, individual, social, cultural, and global.

To help introduce the five areas of awareness to my students I showed my students the two videos “I Forgot My Phone” and “Emma, Le Trefle.” Both videos are funny that make big statements. Many argue face-to-face society is being impacted negatively by technology causing inattentiveness of people to their own families and friends. Cell phones interrupt movies, celebrations, social events, and often become intrusive. This aspect of digital citizenship falls under Social Awareness.

After viewing and discussing the two videos in class I asked my students to create a code of conduct for cell phone use in public places. This was not an easy task. Students debated whether talking on the phone and texting was appropriate at the dinner table and shared other stories about award experiences with cell phones. It was a lively discussion.

Students need to engage in conversations like these so they can make good decisions as digital citizens when it comes to etiquette and respect, responsibility and safety.

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Animation as a Catalyst for Making Global Connections

Global collaboration is an innovative teaching tool that helps prepare students to become active participants in our global community. Global collaborative projects tap into many of the existing and emerging skills and literacies required of teachers and students: listening, reading, writing, speaking, problem solving, creating, and using technology to practice digital citizenship (NETS).   In fact, collaboration is included throughout the Common Core Learning Standards. It states in both the K-5 and 6-12 standards for speaking and listening, “Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.” (CCLS, 2010)  Global collaborative projects help to meet these standards.

Many global collaborative projects currently exist that teachers can apply and participate in such as  Flat Classroom Project, iEarn, and Classroom2.0.  Teachers can also create their own global collaboration projects.  Global partnerships are about making connections with other teachers and schools to benefit all students’ learning.  These partnerships can be made through Twitter, blogs, conferences, and or even with teachers around your school district.

At this fall’s Edscape Conference (http://edscapeconference.com), I connected with the educational coordinator from the Japan Society in New York City to establish a partnership between students at a school in Japan and my middle school students in Rye, New York.  The global collaborative project benefits my seventh and eighth grade media literacy elective. During the semester course, I use Disney animated films to teach critical theories of gender, race, class, and age.  To broaden the unit, I add Japanese anime so students can understand how anime can be a window into other cultures around the world.  Japanese anime becomes an exciting catalyst to spark conversation and global awareness among my students in New York and the students in Japan.  The goal of this project is to expand my students’ world views of different cultures through media literacy and more specifically, anime.

Communicating. Prior to participating in the  global project with the students from Japan, I spend a week setting up the project with my students. I teach netiquette and responsible digital citizenship.  Teachers cannot assume that students know how to work together collaboratively in the classroom, let alone online.  When working with students around the world, one must take into consideration language barriers and cultural differences as well.  Teachers need to support students throughout a global project to help to facilitate successful collaboration and communication.

To help initiate a discussion about working with others, I give my students different scenarios with “sticky” small group situations, and I ask them to brainstorm positive responses.  For example,  one scenario includes a small group with one student who acts as a dictator and completes all the work while other group members take a backseat to the project. Another scenario is about miscommunication among group members.  In the third scenario one group member’s contributions are inaccurate, but the other group members do not want to hurt the student’s feelings and the work is wrong.  My own students resolve these small group situations and create positive alternatives.

Students know that when working with others, they need to be considerate of others, but they don’t know what respectful and cooperative work looks like or sounds like.  It is necessary to model for students positive communication for successful collaboration, offer guidelines, and even provide specific communication starters for students.  In Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels’ Comprehension and Collaboration (Heinemann, 2009), there is a thorough list of communication starters to help students articulate respect and tolerance including, “I am glad that you brought that up. I would have never thought of that” and “I agree with what you are saying.”

Collaborating. There are three elements to the media literacy global collaborative project.  First, students participate in an introductory assignment where, individually or with a partner, they create a written blog post or digital video about themselves and the community where they live.  Students share these videos and blog posts online using the Japan Society’s  secure social networking site, “Going Global.”  This introductory “handshake” allows students to introduce themselves to the global participants and share information about their own cultural interests.  Students have the option of taking pictures of their community to include in their post to provide a visual perspective on the community where they live.  This assignment not only helps students to see the commonalities and differences among all the participants, but it also initiates inquiry and interest among students.

After the initial handshake, students view two Disney animated films and two Japanese animes.  This year students view the recent Disney princess film; Tangled (2010) and Brave (2012).  Then students view My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Spirited Away (2001), both by Hayao Miyazaki, who has been called the Walt Disney of Japanese anime. Each student is assigned a critical theory to research and write a collaborative report on a Wiki.  Students then apply the critical theory to the films and include the analysis on the Wiki page.  As an example, students collaboratively critique how gender is represented in both the Disney films and Japanese anime.

In addition to the collaborative piece with the students in Japan, I have my students collaborate with another member of our class and create a video segment discussing their critical theory applied to the Disney princess films.  We link all the videos together to create a “Choose Your Own Adventure” video montage on YouTube.  YouTube has an feature that allows teachers to insert a hyperlink into the video uploaded using the spotlight annotation tool.  Students write their own scripts based on their research and analysis, and then we spend four class periods recording the videos.  As a final step,  I upload the videos to YouTube and link the videos together.

The project has multiple layers.  Each component of the project is scaffolded for the diverse range of student abilities.  With each element of the project, I present my students with models, checklists,  and assessment rubrics so they know the project’s expectations.

Culminating. Creating a successful global collaborative project requires much planning. Clear goals and outcomes with all participants must be communicated.  A successful project is interactive, engaging, and revolves around real questions and problems.  Whether participating in an already existing global project or creating your own, global projects allow students to utilize multiple skills relevant to succeeding inside and outside of the classroom.

This article was written for and appeared first in the inaugural Literacy Special Interest Journal for ISTE.  Be sure to check out all of the intriguing literacy projects described in the journal’s first edition.  
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Reflections of a Flatclassroom Global Collaborative Project

This spring I had the opportunity to participate in one of the Flat Classroom global projects designed and facilitated by Flat Classroom co-founders, Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis.  The project that my students and I participated in was the NetGenEd Project.  The idea behind the project was for students to work collaboratively researching and contributing to the NetGenEd Wiki  about one of the 2013 Horizon Report Tech Trends through the critical perspective of Don Tapscott’s Net Generation Norms.  In addition, students created a video about the tech trend they researched to be judged by a set of external judges.  The project encompassed about ten weeks from February up until the end of April.  My students worked on the project everyday in class researching, adding information to the Wiki and Ning, communicating with their global partners from other schools, and creating their videos.  This being the first year that my students and I participated in the project, I asked my students to reflect on their learning and participation in this project.

My students gave me some insight in how I might do the project differently if I were to participate in this project again and confirmed for me some of my own thoughts post-project.

As a new teacher to this project there were meetings online every week or two to help set up the project but as one of the organizers said, “it is sink or swim.” I kept abreast of everything but a mentor assigned to work with me would have been beneficial.  I read Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time (2012) by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis beforehand.  I read Grown Up Digital (2009) by Don Tapscott after being informed I was invited to participate in the project.  I read as much as I could so that I could manage the project effectively and successfully.

One thing I would recommend changing is streamline the websites.  It was overwhelming and confusing between the Ning and the Wiki.  As a Wiki user and advocate, I was comfortable and confident collaborating on a Wiki.  The Ning — think of a social networking sight like Facebook specifically for the project participants — I felt, was not necessary; and many of my students confirmed the same in their reflection.   Asking students to contribute to a Wiki and contribute to the Ning was tedious and confusing.  There was a handshake on the Ning, but project reports on the Wiki, discussions on the Wiki and on the Ning.  Why not have a page on the wiki to share handshake blog posts and keep everything on one website.

Returning teachers shared their project checklists online and this was tremendously helpful.  I used these as models to create daily checklists to help my students move through each element of the project requirements.  I wish I had gotten this information right at the beginning of the project.  In addition, I felt I needed to evaluate my students at every checklist to make sure that each piece of the desired outcomes was met.  I created my own rubrics, and would have loved other teacher participants to share their own.

I realize now, after reading student reflections, I need to better articulate the guidelines and desired outcomes for my students.  I thought that I was clear but found many of my students confused.  I need to create templates to support student research and offer models of solid final products to help my students understand the project requirements.

Here are some highlights of what my students said in their reflections:

“I found it interesting to work with students in other countries and see their point of view.”

“I learned that the future of technology has so much to offer.”

“If you were to do the project again, there should be less work.  It was too much and were graded too harshly seeing as we were learning as we were completing the project requirements.”

“I learned how to collaborate with other people through technology.”

“I think you don’t need to do the Wiki, students should just make a movie and the other people collaborating were useless.”

Now, you might be wondering, would I do another global collaborative project?

Absolutely, in fact I am working on another one right now connecting my students with students at a school in Japan.

To see my students’ Flat Classroom research, Wiki reports,  and videos CLICK HERE.

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A Virtual Book Club

flat classroom book imageFor the past three months I have been part of a Virtual Book Club with educators around the world discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time by Julie Lindsay and Vickie Davis.  What first began as a book club within a school, became a global virtual book club with teachers, parents, students, thinkers, and learners around the world to discuss “powerful educational ideas” with one another.

The book club was facilitated by blogger and technology integration specialist, Kyle Dunbar.  We met for an hour twice a month for three months using Blackboard Collaborate.  Each meeting Kyle facilitated thoughtful discussions and reflections about ideas raised in the book from setting up a global project to celebrating and reflecting on global collaborations.  The fact that I am participating in a Flat Classroom project with my middle school students right now made the book club more meaningful. As I set up and launched the project I had this opportunity with the book club to discuss with veteran and newbie global classroom project teachers all aspects of a global collaborative project. In addition, Kyle set up a blog for teachers to post thoughts, ideas and reflections when we weren’t meeting (or if a person missed a meeting).

So, what were the benefits of participating in a virtual book club?

1. Connected with teachers around the globe.

2. Engaged in authentic literacy experiences – a model for what we want to do with our own students.

3. Learned more about global projects.

4. Inspired to do more – participate in another virtual book club, global project, become a certified flat classroom teacher.

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Lesson Plans for Setting Up a Global Project

This year I eagerly applied to participate, with my students, in one of the Flat Classroom Global Projects created by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis.  The project is a model for digital citizenship and allows my students to collaborate and create with students around the globe.

The NetGenEd Project uses the 2013 Horizon Report and mashes up the technology trends as described in the Horizon Report with the Net Generation norms as described in Don Tapscott’s book Grown Up Digital.  The final product created by the students includes a collaboratively written wiki that shows what students will be doing with the technologies that will characterize their educational experiences over the next five to ten years.  And, in addition, students will also create a multimedia version of what they think it will look like in practice.

My students are currently in the midst or researching and writing on the wiki.  It took me about a week to set up and introduce the project to my students.  The project typically runs for about 8-10 weeks.  Below are my introductory lessons for the first week setting up the project.  I have also included the rubric that I created for my students to evaluate their collaborative Wiki report.  For my students, I am having them create a Symbaloo or Thinglink to visually display their works cited and additional resources.

Day One  – Digital Citizenship

Day Two & Three – Finding Reliable Information Online

Day Four – NetGenEd Lesson Plan 2013

Day Five – Net Gen Norms

Flatclassroom Project Rubric

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Flattening the Globe: Resources and Ideas for Teachers with Global Project Potential

On Tuesday, November 13th at 4 PM EST I will be presenting “Flattening the Globe: Resources and Ideas for Teachers with Global Project Potential for Global Ed Con.  “The Global Education Conference is a collaborative, world-wide community initiative involving students, educators, and organizations at all levels. It is designed to significantly increase opportunities for building education-related connections around the globe while supporting cultural awareness and recognition of diversity.” (GEC Mission Statement, 2012)

Global Ed Con will happen around the clock beginning November 12th through the 16th, 2012.  The conference is free and entirely online through Blackboard Collaborative.  A complete schedule for the conference and upcoming sessions is listed here.

The session that I will be presenting will focus on Setting Up a Global Project in Your Classroom: Where to Start and What to Think About. The session will offer resources where to make global connections with other schools and organizations, ideas to think about in setting up a global project, and how to help create a global project that unites young people around the world. I will discuss a global project that is being established for the upcoming spring between a Japanese School and my middle school in suburban New York.  In addition, I will offer project ideas, necessary technologies needed, and resources for starting your own global project. The session will introduce different global projects that teachers can create and do with their students in any content area.  I will share  past projects students completed that teachers can model in their classrooms.  If teachers truly want to help prepare students for the future than what we do in our classroom should reflect this.  Students need opportunities to interact with one another, in addition to within their communities as well as globally.  Students need ample opportunities to create and share using technology and digital media.  This workshop will address how teachers can help students extend and apply knowledge in diverse and creative ways.

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Collaborative Project Ideas

Today I spent the day outside of my classroom and school to participate in a Bureau of Education Workshop titled “Strengthening Content-Area Learning Using Cutting-Edge Technology Projects” taught by Cindy Kendall.  I am always looking out for new ideas that can I translate in my classroom and, in turn, share on this blog and my wikis.  I was surprised by the large amount of information that Cindy shared today and the ever growing amount of tech tools that we can use to enhance content area literacy and critical literacy in our classrooms.

Many of the tech tools that she shared are ones I have previously mentioned in this blog: digital storytelling, podcasts, poll everywhere, xtranormal, wikis, or will soon have my students utilize: glogs and prezis.   You can find links to many of these web 2.0 tools mentioned on my cyberteaching wiki and can see some in action on my classroom wikis. The information Cindy shared that really captured my attention was the collaborative projects that are happening around the world where students are collaborating with students from other schools.  For the past four years that I have been using wikis in my classroom, I have made my wikis protected sites where only the students registered in my classes for the semester can edit and add to the wiki.  Maybe it is time that break down the walls of my wikis and make my wikis more globally interactive and collaborative.

Thus, I am looking into different collaborative projects to join in or create new collaborative projects that blend my content area and classroom objectives.  Some of the places that I have started to look at and think about how I can model the collaborative projects that are already out there include: The Flat Classroom Project, international collaborative projects; for science teachers, the Center for Engineering and Science Education at Stevens Institute of Technology has many science themed collaborative projects from human genetics to the global water sampling project; and  Collaborations Around the Planet is another site for collaborative projects and events.  If you have any ideas for collaborative projects or are currently participating in collaborative projects please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.

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