Each week, an educator takes a stand or shares an Aha! moment in the classroom in Education World's Voice of Experience column. This week, educator Brenda Dyck reflects on creating her first telecollaborative project and a Web page to go with it. Included: Join the discussion! Share your advice for educators who are about to set off on their first Web-page-construction adventures!
I closed my classroom door and walked down the vacated halls of my school. Everyone had gone home for the summer holidays and I had just put the finishing touches on my first-ever telecollaborative project Web page. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to design and manage my own project, let alone create a Web page to house the resulting student work!
My telecollaborative project began with a small idea -- a social studies assignment that I thought might beef up my humdrum government unit. My sixth graders would brainstorm qualities that strong leaders might possess; then they would reflect on those qualities as they used Internet resources to learn more about former and current government leaders.
I knew that the success of this project hinged on how well I could articulate the thinking behind "I'm Leading, Is Anyone Following?" To that end, I used the Yahoo eGroup feature to create an eGroup where the teachers I had recruited could share thoughts, resources, and suggestions for implementation. We used that tool to get to know one another and to iron out project glitches.
Soon the project teachers started sending student work to me, and I began to build the Web pages. As my confidence increased, so did my Web page plans. Plain Web pages were replaced with e-mail links, sounds, tables, and thumbnail images. I actually started to understand what I was doing!
By far, the most satisfying part of my first telecollaborative adventure was reading the student writing as it came in from Florida, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Alberta. It was amazing to me that distance had not gotten in the way of the learning. In fact, the project seemed to be enhanced by the distance and cultural diversity that each classroom brought to its submissions. The students' voices were there, along with evidence of higher-level thinking. The project had turned out just as I had envisioned it a year before.
The "I'm Leading, Is Anyone Following?" Web page stood as a testament to student learning -- and to my own learning as well!