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Nellie Deutsch
Teacher High School/Secondary (ages 14-18)
Rabin Secondary School
    Tel Mond
Tel Mond, , Israel
Division Category: An Educator outside the U.S.A; Projects for ages 13 to 18

Candidate Personal Narrative

NAME: Nellie Deutsch
  1. History
  2. Projects
  3. Collaboration
  4. Learning Requirements
  5. Assessment
  6. Affective and Other Outcomes
  1. Professional Impact
  2. Personal Impact
  3. Promoting your Project
  4. Direct Project Assistance
  5. Empowering Others
  6. GSN's Role

HISTORY (10 points)      TOP

I am originally from Toronto, Canada. I moved to Israel right after high school. I hold a BA in English literature and an MA in education, curriculum, and technology. I am currently studying for my doctorate in education and curriculum online at the University of Phoenix online.

My love for life-long learning goes beyond the classroom. I received certification as a P.A.I.R.S educator. I conduct workshops on how to improve our relationships with others. I have volunteered my services on marriages at two prisons and at a community center for the elderly.

I have been teaching English to high school students for 30 years. I have been integrating technology in my classes for the past 13 years.  I have always viewed English as a means of communication and use my skills as a moderator to encourage life-long learning.

I have been happily married for 25 years. My husband and I have raised three wonderful children ages, 24, 22, and 21. They are all college students. The oldest is a graduate student in Canada, while the other two are undergraduates in Israel.

I first got involved in online collaborative learning and online projects 3 years ago. The Ministry of Education implemented a new policy whereby ESL students would have to work in teams and conduct projects for the final national exams called the Bagrut. I took a few courses that year. One was on the new project idea and the other was on creating WebQuests. I combined the two ideas and came up with a website of my own called Nellie's English Projects:

I decided to design a website so that I could aid teachers in carrying out the new project idea. I developed a web page called Collaborative Projects:

I tried to get other teachers and students as excited as I was about using the Internet and online collaboration with students and teachers from other schools in the world. I always had the support of the technology coordinators but my ESL colleagues felt intimidated by working with computers. I kept searching for ways to get ESL teachers involved in implementing technology and collaboration in their classes. I finally decided that the only way to do that would be to create WebQuests that could be used for the final Bagrut project. It worked. Last year my colleagues used two of the WebQuests I created especially for them: The Perfect Society WebQuest: based on The Giver and The Last Spin WebQuest based on a short story by Evan Hunter. The students worked in teams of 4 as they collaborated and produced a written paper and a creative oral presentation. This year the classes are also using the WebQuests for their projects. However, I decided to make a change and go beyond the local team collaboration. I added another school outside of Israel. The school we collaborated with was in Montreal, Canada. The WebQuest we used was The Perfect Society. The teacher and I collaborated as we organized the two grade 10 classes into teams of two from each country. I felt that I had reached utopia as the students got to know one another and discussed The Giver by Lois Lowry. This was going to be an authentic shared learning experience for me and my students. I would be a pioneer in my school that could lead the other teachers the following year in a co-teaching program where a team of mixed students from two countries collaborate on an international project. I was very excited about the whole venture.


PROJECTS (10 points):    TOP

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:

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:

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:

The students introduced themselves in the LMS in October and responded to the satirical essay Nacirema: as a way of discussing cultural differences.

My experience and feedback can be heard: and read:  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: .

Technologies Used

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:    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:

Photos of students working on the collaborative project in the computer room at Rabin: and in Canada:

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:, 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: 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.


COLLABORATION (10 points):    TOP

The highlight of the project was the technology used to collaborate with the students. The students and I communicated mainly online from our homes because of the time difference. We used emails, Nicenet: and Moodle for our interactions. However, it would have been easier to use the school website:

The Project fit in with the English requirements and curriculum. The students improved their English skills as well as life long learning skills such as problem solving and team work. They practice higher order thinking and managed to come up with ideas on how to manage their time and school schedule.



According to the English Inspectorate and collaborative projects:                 


ASSESSMENT (10 points):    TOP

The students were assessed according to the following rubrics:

The students worked in class during the day and at home in the afternoons. Sometimes they stayed up all night to work with their Canadian team mates. They learned that it takes a great deal of motivation and caring to work on teams. Things didn't always work out and there were many problems along the way but they found out that life is a learning experience and that that can learn from its challenges. We discussed many personal issues in class discussions, by phone, in person, and by email. 



I enjoyed collaborating with Sharon Peters, her students, and my own This is the first time that I had an opportunity to co-teach with another teacher online. It was very difficult to conduct the lessons but it provided me with tools on how to improve the next time around.



I am looking forward to my next collaborative project. I hope to use a WebQuest once again. I think The Last Spin: would be a better choice for this kind of co-teaching and learning project.


PERSONAL IMPACT (10 points):    TOP

I learned that things don't always work out the way you expect them to and that it's harder to control situations online. It is easier to take care of matters in a face to face environment. Misunderstandings are scary when they occur at a distance. I felt helpless when I found out that students had complained about learning online. It isn't easy for some students to learn online and in teams.



I have promoted my projects by means of the Israeli English teachers' website called Etni:  and

In addition I have used my website for teachers to learn how to carry out their projects: according to the Israeli Ministry of Education and English Inspectorate, submit and share their collaborative projects: . Nellie's English Projects is a well known educational portal where teacher find resources on how to integrate technology and implement collaborative and cooperative ideas: and on effective teaching/ learning:

I gave two workshops for Israeli teachers: and



Most of the ESL teachers have used my WebQuests and team work with their classes. I hope that next year they will also collaborate with classes and teachers from outside of Israel. I think I have shown them that it's worthwhile.



I am known as a person full of energy and enthusiastic about life and work. I strive for excellence but realize that success comes with making mistakes. I love teaching and encourage people to get excited about learning. I am currently a doctoral student of education at the University of Phoenix. I hope others will take my example and continue studying. Teachers are leaders who are making a difference in the future of their countries and the world. They are scholarly with leadership qualities that need to be nourished. I am determined to continue learning, integrating technology into the ESL classroom, and collaborating with teachers and students as equal partners in the process of learning.


GSN's ROLE (10 points):    TOP

I would like financial help in conducting projects. I did not receive any assistance. I used my own money and spent hours at home online. I spent my money on upgrading my computer and bought technological equipment such as a video camera, and webcam. I still need a video program to edit the movies I took of the project. I wanted to participate in the Ohio Online Conference but couldn't afford the $75 it cost as a presenter. I don't get paid by the Ministry of Education in Israel or my school to do what I do. It would be great to have an organization that promoted teachers in countries that don't have the budget to pay them and purchase the equipment needed for the project to succeed. My students had to work at home, too. The school did not provide them with suitable computers and an Internet connection. 

One of the biggest challenges we had was lack of technological equipment.