When I saw that our final project for this course was going to be collaborative, I was immediately very excited, but cautious. Up until this point, the only amount of collaboration I have done is in person or via shared documents that my fellow colleagues at my school work on together. Last school year, I attempted to do some global collaboration via Seesaw with a classroom in Finland, but it failed miserably when the other classroom did not participate or respond to my class at all. Needless to say, my class and I were quite discouraged, but the excitement of the possibility of participating in a global project still was there. After reflecting on the experience I think that it failed because of a few things; the premise we were connecting over was not very clear, and it was not me but my tech coach who communicated to set up the connection.
Because of this, I knew I needed to do some things different this time to make sure both my class’ and my experience with it was a positive one. So I immediately reached out to Agisa to partner up with me because I knew she taught kindergarten and, based on my knowledge of her from her great blog, our philosophies of teaching lower elementary line up really well.
After some getting to know each other personally a little better via email and a few more weeks of learning in this course, we decided upon doing a digital citizenship unit that both our classes could benefit greatly from.
Agisa is in Singapore and I am in China and we decided to stick with email as the method of communication for us. As for our students, since we both use Seesaw in our classrooms already, we thought this would be a perfect way to foster collaboration between our classrooms that is both developmentally appropriate and familiar to our students.
The next step for us was to actually create the unit we had been discussing. So in order to facilitate this, we created a shared Google Doc and got straight to work. We already had some ideas floating around so we both decided that we could work on different parts of it together as we had time. We both inputted our ideas and edited or added to each other’s at the same time. It was a pretty easy collaboration in this respect because we are both very flexible people of similar mindsets.
Unfortunately, since I am currently staying home to care for my recently adopted son for the rest of this school year, we decided we would have to hold off for now on our extensive classroom collaboration final project. As a result, we decided to instead create a unit that we could implement fully at the beginning of next school year and connect our classes on a deeper level. For now, since I only have a little control over what happens in my class via asking my long term sub, we thought that for this year we would simply open up our classes to the Seesaw connected blogs and allow them to comment on each other’s work to get to know each other and see what happens in different classrooms across the world.
While Agisa will take some of the lessons from the unit and teach them to her class now, I will by default have to hold off until I can do it when I am teaching again next year. However, in order to facilitate some collaboration between our classes this year, I did get to do a ‘guest lesson’ in my classroom recently to teach my students about connected blogs, how to access them, and how to comment appropriately on other’s work. I will also facilitate the connecting of our Seesaw blogs in a week and inform my long-term sub when that happens so that she can encourage my students to view Agisa’s class’ posts and comment on them appropriately. When we get connected, I will have the added benefit of being able to lurk on the connected blogs to see the commenting taking place. In a few weeks, I will try to get in my class for another ‘guest lesson’ to see how it is going and do a little more teaching on the topic of digital citizenship if I can.
The unit we created is a 4 week unit for kindergarteners and first graders that focuses on teaching digital citizenship skills through the use of Seesaw. Anyone could use or adapt this unit to fit in the context of their classroom at those grade levels. It covers the basics of online privacy, safety online, digital footprints, copyright, commenting, cyberbullying, and empowering connections to make the world a better place. Although it is listed as a 4 week unit, the idea is that the lessons would start on the first week of school, but not necessarily be done every day for 4 straight weeks. Since it is very tech focused, it has many stand alone lessons that may work better to be done a few a week over the first few months of school instead. Also, after the unit is over, the intention is to carry on the collaboration and practice of digital citizenship skills throughout the rest of the school year. The only thing that is necessary is that the classes that connect their blogs together would finish the final project around the same time so that they could collaborate and comment on each others’ work at the same time. So, without further ado, here is the unit we created. Stay tuned for next year and I will make a post about how the unit goes along with the global collaboration final project.