1. Although I have being involved in collaborative projects with students from outside of Israel since 1995, I have only begun documenting this year's collaborative. I was involved in many online pen pal and electronic newspaper projects with other schools around the world at my previous school in Ben Gurion of Emek Hefer, Israel. I worked with the school's technology coordinator Rachel Azar. The work was never documented since we were pioneers who thought it was natural to work and collaborate via the Internet. My students exchanged emails, got to know students from other countries, improved their English, practiced and learned new computer skills, and found learning meaningful. The exchange was carried out with countries from the USA, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand.
2. This year my school was involved in an international literature project. The process began in September 2005 with introductions from both sides. It is still ongoing.
The participants are grade 10 ESL students from Tel Mond and Tsurun communities who study in Rabin High, Tel Mond. 48 students took part in the project; 25 from Israel, 11 girls and 14 boys and 23
students; 9 girls and 14 boys from Montreal, Canada.
The project was carried out in forums and activities on Moodle: http://www.mtl-peters.net/moodle/moodle/login/index.php
The learning goals were to develop higher order thinking skills within the team work and use of the internet and computer applications.
The students concluded that it was an interesting way to learn. They found it difficult to arrange online meetings with the Canadians because of the time difference.
International Collaborative Literature Project 2005-06
2005-2006 International Collaborative. Literature. Project. with Lower Canada College - English Dept. LMS, Montreal, Canada – partners with Sharon Peters (teacher)
Timeline and Participants
We began the collaborative project in late September of 2005 and but have not completed it yet. LCC had 23 students participating and Rabin had 25 students. This project was also managed by the Israeli Pedagogical Network for Collaborative Learning: http://cms.education.gov.il/EducationCMS/Units/Ipncl/.
Goals and Description of the Project
My co-teaching partner was Sharon Peters. Our students worked collaboratively on teams made up of grade 10 classes from both schools to complete a WebQuest project on the novel, The Giver, by Lois Lowry. A collaborative learning approach was used for this project.
Sharon and I met in early September to discuss my approach to this project. I had created a webquest based The Giver, by Lois Lowry, for my students the year before. This short novel explored the concepts of utopia and expectations of the community to live up to tradition. The ideas encouraged life long learning and higher order thinking as specified by the English Inspectorate curriculum. The assignment for each team can be found on the webquest which includes evaluation rubrics for assessment and presentation ideas: http://www.nelliemuller.com/Theperfectsociety.WebQuest.htm.
The students introduced themselves in the LMS in October and responded to the satirical essay Nacirema: http://www.msu.edu/%7Ejdowell/miner.html as a way of discussing cultural differences.
My experience and feedback can be heard: http://www.nelliemuller.com/Collaborative%20Projects.wav and read: http://mtl-peters.net/IOC/teachers.htm It was interesting that there were similar feedback and comments from both classes regardless of the differences in time and space. Sharon Peters comments indicate these similarities on the teacher feedback page: http://mtl-peters.net/IOC/teachers.htm .
Sharon Peters and I communicated through Skype, Talking Communities and Google Talk. We preferred Google Talk. In early January, a friend of mine offered his hotconference rooms: http://www.hotconference.net/ for free so that the two classes we were also able to "meet" live in an online environment. The room had both audio, video, web browser option, and an interactive whiteboard. I created a PowerPoint presentation and presented the assignment to both classes simultaneously. The students asked questions individually as they would in a real classroom but coming up to the microphone. In Canada they conducted the meeting in class with a projector while in Israel each of the students was alone at home on his or her PC. The meeting was a success as the students sang popular songs from their countries and introduced themselves. It was exciting for both classes to finally meet as a class, experience collaborative learning, and share a "classroom". The feedback from both classes was very positive. They asked to do it again. They seemed to prefer this kind of real to life virtual classroom to IM or e-mails.
Feedback and Reflections
The students collaborated and produced written material that can be seen online: I added some of their work on my own website: http://www.nelliemuller.com/The.Perfect.Society.WebQuest.Student.Presentations.htm
Photos of students working on the collaborative project in the computer room at Rabin: http://mtl-peters.net/IOC/IMGA0096.JPG and in Canada: http://mtl-peters.net/IOC/feb1510Ai.jpg
Reflections and feedback from students:
The collaborative project with the Canadians was a good experience. It was a differentand interesting way of learning. We don't have many opportunities during school to talk to people from other places in the world, to get the chance to know them. -Hila (Rabin)
Photos: http://mtl-peters.net/IOC/3110050130.jpg, reflections and feedback from my co-teacher Sharon Peters:
My new endeavour with a WebQuest and a collaborative learning approach with our partners at Rabin High School was very challenging. While I have participated in many collaborative projects as an adult learner, it became apparent that high school students are a different breed of learners and need additional scaffolded support for a project such as this. The students from both schools very much enjoyed the social interaction; however, when it came down to depending on other team members from a different school to produce work of a good quality, many of the students balked. This was a new learning approach for them. It was a profound learning experience for the teachers, too. Nellie and I spent many hours discussing solutions to problems that arose and seeking resolutions to unanticipated difficulties. It was hard work! And while it is true that I would do things differently next time, it is often only through making mistakes that we learn better and more efficient ways in our instructional approaches.
Overall, I would like to thank my students for their hard work and creativity; my dear partnering teachers in Israel for their unrelenting support and encouragement – they are true friends; and my school for the collegial support I have received and the provision of such rich technology resources so that this project is possible.
Photos of one of my students and I: http://mtl-peters.net/IOC/IMGA0093.JPG and my reflections:
I presumed that my students would also see the value of online team work immediately. I was mistaken. Initially, many of them felt threatened as they entered this unfamiliar online learning environment. They were not used to this kind of online communication. This did not discourage me. I was determined to make it work. I conducted several class discussions on the issues and problems they were facing. They learned to express themselves in a quiet and constructive manner by focusing on the difficulties they were having instead of blaming others for their fears. Most of their problems centered around how they were going to be evaluated and grades. The atmosphere in the classroom was improving as the students realized that they were not alone. Everyone felt the same. They were all skeptical about using technology as a learning tool. They had never learned that way before and were afraid of getting lower grades.
Once they understood that they were actually preparing their final Bagrut Project for next year, they began to relax.
Using technology (Internet) for learning is new for most students and their parents. It takes time to accept new ways. I am convinced that this kind of international collaborative learning model is an important step to better communication.
Mrs. Peters and I collaborated online at all hours day and night. I hope we will continue collaborating in the future. I am grateful to have met such a professional and dedicated teacher. We became friends.
Finally, I wish to thank both our schools for supporting the project
A collaborative learning approach was used for this project. That is, students from both schools formed the teams that worked on the WebQuest assignment together.
Sharon and I met in early September to discuss our approach to this project. I had created a WebQuest based on the novel The Giver, by Lois Lowry, for my students the year before. This short novel explores the concepts of utopia and societal expectations which fit in quite well with LCC's grade 10 English course theme of self-maturation and independence. The assignment for each team can be found on the WebQuest website as well as the rubrics used for assessment.
The students introduced themselves in the LMS in October and responded to the satirical essay Nacirema as a way of exploring viewpoint and cultural differences.