Participate! Collaborate! Communicate!

There are so many great online projects you can become part of that allow you and your students to collaborate and communicate with other classes around the world. Over the last eight years, my students and I have participated in a variety of different projects. Collaborating in these projects has led to other opportunities for my students. We've been able to Skype and share VoiceThreads with other classes around the world.

One of the first online projects that I became a part of many years ago was a postcard exchange. I found someone who was recruiting a class from each state in the U.S. to join. (I have also participated in International Post Card Exchanges.) Each school creates enough postcards with information about their school, city, state, to send one to each of the other schools in the exchange. In return, your school will receive one postcard from each of the other schools too. This means you could potentially receive 49 postcards! What kid doesn't love to get something in the mail? I admit, even I get excited to see another postcard in my mailbox in the school office! Check out Mike Ryter's site to see all of the cards he's received in our postcard exchange this year: Mr. Ryter's 6th Grade Godwin Social Studies.

Our Postcard Sent to Mr. Ryter's Class

You may be asking how this postcard exchange can be used as a learning experience in the classroom. Here are some ideas. First, I teach a lesson on writing a friendly letter. This is important to do before writing our messages on the postcards. Then I teach a lesson on how to write an address on a piece of mail. It amazes me how many students don't know how to do this, but then how many of them have ever used snail mail before?! I even have my students draw the picture that we use on the front of the postcard using a paint program on the computer. When the postcards from other schools start arriving, you could practice map skills to find the location of the school on a U.S. map. I created a Google Map and marked each school as their postcard arrived (SEE BELOW). If the other schools list how many students are in their school or their class, you could use this information in math to graph/average/analyze. There are probably lots of other ways you could use this postcard exchange.

View U.S. Postcard Exchange in a larger map

Another site that I would recommend for online projects is run by Jennifer Wagner. Jen organizes many projects during the school year including O.R.E.O. stacking, Christmas Card exchanges, St. Patrick's Day graphing, and more. My students and I have participated in these projects for many years and it is always a lot of fun!

Every spring, I sign the students in grades 1-8 up to participate in World Math Day. This is a great, friendly competition of math facts between students of similar age/ability levels from around the world. Guaranteed to be more fun than doing flash cards at the supper table!

This year my students in grades 2-8 are learning the art of blogging using Kidblog. We have had several opportunities to collaborate with other students through our blogs. The 6th graders participated in Quadblogging last fall. The middle school students are currently participating in the 100 word challenge. Next week the 4th graders will be communicating with other 4th graders who are attending a Catholic school to share the fun activities they do for Catholic Schools Week. I wrote about the art of blogging in my previous post Writing + Audience = Blogging if you'd like to know more.

I am intrigued by these new projects in which I have not yet participated...the Global Read Aloud Project, Collaboreyes, and the Flat Classroom Project. Other sites where you might find project partners include: ePals, Global School House, AtoZTeacherStuff Forums.

Joining these projects brings the four corners of the world a little closer to your doorstep and allows your students to collaborate and communicate with students from all over the world. Give it a try!

1 comment:

  1. Hello! I found your blogpost on my page and wanted to respond. :) I am also a computer lab teacher and have participated in some of the projects you have: Quadblogging and World Math Day. They are both great projects! I've also had my students participate in projects from The Flat Classroom Project and The Global Classroom Project. We would love to connect w/ your students, especially with 1st and 2nd grades. Do you know of any projects for them?
    Theresa Allen