Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems.
2.4.a. Dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology.
2.4.b. Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources, and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.
2.4.c. Use collaborative tools to expand students’ authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams and students, locally and globally.
2.4.d. Demonstrate cultural competency when communicating with students, parents and colleagues, and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning.
Collaboration is an integral part of education. When I taught first grade, one of the inquiry units I taught was called, “Why work together?” In this unit, we delved into the advantages and the positive outcomes derived from collective efforts towards a shared purpose and a common goal. First graders readily embraced the concept of teamwork, understanding that partnering with others enhances efficiency and productivity. In their young minds, the value of collaborative work far surpasses the benefits of solitary endeavors.
In our unit planning, the first grade teachers determine that there are activities which are quite effective in highlighting the importance of teamwork (2.4.a). One task in particular is called the blindfold activity. Students work in partners, with one having a blindfold on. Their task is to walk through an obstacle course without walking over or hitting a barrier. The blindfolded partner quickly realizes that he/she needs to rely on their partner to guide them. They learn to listen to their partner’s voice, and to trust what their partner says. After the first round, the partners switch roles and they go through the same obstacle course. We video record each partnership through their devices so students can watch their videos together and reflect on their experience at a later time.
Using Seesaw, I pose questions to guide students through the reflection process (2.4.b). The questions are tied to the unit core concepts. Students can record their reflection by using the Seesaw pen to write or they can also record their voice.
As teachers, we are surrounded by many collaboration opportunities. The question is, do we seize these opportunities, or do we revert to individualistic approaches out of convenience and ease?
Global Collaborative Project
In April, 2022, I had the privilege of doing a global collaborative project with two other elementary classes: a third grade class from Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, and a fifth grade class from Surabaya in East Java, Indonesia (2.4.c). Together, we explored this question: How does our environment impact the way we live?
In our classroom, we have been exploring the impact of our surroundings on our daily lives. For example, where we live is in a tropical region, where warm weather and high humidity prevail for the majority of the year. When we spend time outdoors, we opt for lightweight and breathable clothing to cope with the heat. Some of us wear hats and apply sunscreen, and everyone carries a water bottle to stay hydrated.
During our lessons, we have been studying diverse environments using videos. Many of these environments are unfamiliar to our students. Consequently, my students were thrilled to find out about our upcoming collaboration with elementary students from other schools.
Prior to formulating any questions, I engaged our class in a discussion about the geographical locations of these schools. Using Google Earth, we virtually explored the cities where these schools are situated, using the platform’s features to examine the school premises and the surrounding areas (2.4.b). During our discussion, we explored the potential similarities and differences between our own school experiences and those of students attending these two other schools. Stressing the importance of respecting others and being aware of their diverse backgrounds was a key focus throughout our conversation (2.4.d).
My first graders eagerly compiled a list of questions to ask our friends from the other schools (2.4.b). Majority of the questions focused on their immediate surroundings, such as their classroom and the school. We video-recorded our questions and sent them to the teachers ahead of time.
Jamboard: Questions from first graders
This is the first global collaborative project I have done. Although it coincided with the tail end of the school year, which was not the best time to conduct such a project, I am grateful for the dedication of the two teachers who collaborated with me. Despite the challenges posed by time differences and geographical distance between our schools, we managed to facilitate the project through Zoom, allowing my first graders to connect and engage in meaningful ways.