I was inspired by the awesome collaboration projects listed in this article. Elements from that article that I noted for my own collaboration project include the following.
Students are allowed to inquire
into topics that are deeply relevant to them, can become powerfully engaged in
projects that force them to question their worlds and their conceptions of what
is fair. Work collaboratively, exercise choice, write about topics that are
relevant to them, and engage in inquiry around genuinely complex social
questions. Real writing, in a real-world genre, and for an authentic audience
helped the students’ writing improve—they wrote something that the whole world
Teachers ask the right questions
at the right times, create classroom environments in which students are
encouraged to tackle difficult subject matter, and allowed students to work as
a community to construct their own ideas about the ways in which our society is
unjust and their own alternative visions of the future. It’s possible to engage
students in authentic writing about culturally and socially relevant subject
matter through the use of the internet. Collaboration must be encouraged
strategically and specifically. Community building is necessary before students
will work productively and noncompetitively with each other (at say, the end of
the school year). With collective authorship and collaboration, teachers need
to watch for students’ deeply rooted assumptions of individualism and
competition. Establish the type of community in which students can act as both
co-teachers and co-learners.
As an anticipatory set, the teacher had the students use sticky notes (then
chart paper) to record questions and connections (often to their families and
life experiences) with a text/story/image/primary source. After a whole group
discussion, the teacher centered on three essential questions. The steps
included a walk through the technology (wiki/website), pick pseudonyms, group
brainstorm about what they would like to learn about the topic (encyclopedias,
choose-your-own-adventure stories, and book reviews, topic dictionary of words,
chronicled the history of the border, a collection of interviews, and a website
about borders around the world), and have the students choose four or five
topics that seemed the most promising. They created small groups around the
ideas that most interested them.
The through included literacy instruction, a rubric, the central question, 40-minute
pre- and post- writing assessments, individual writing (drafts), revisions,
expansions, and edits (done by all four members of the groups), several
conferences with teacher, and the final version. The final draft included an exuberant
voice, was organized in a logical way, and included highlights of the main
ideas of the website. Group members: outline and research the websites
together, read and discuss each other’s contributions to the wikis, and revise
each other’s pages. As students work collaboratively to make their websites,
they write and talk their way into not only a deeper understanding of the
English language, but also of the world in which they live.
Wikis are a particularly promising technology because of the ways in which
they facilitate collaboration while allowing teachers to monitor individual
students. Collaborate space: website, wiki wikispaces.com or pbwiki.com
choose-your-own-adventure story website
oral history, bilingual site. Lists of people to interview, drafted questions,
interviews, interviews into vivid narratives and difficult experiences.
indigenouspeoplesandtheborder.wikispaces.com, effect on indigenous peoples.
Project: current struggles, scaffold their research, teacher finds
and prints relevant websites and news articles and summarize them or highlight
the key points. Contradictory information. Complex relationships among the
Native American tribes, the U.S. government, and the Mexican government. Drew
Developing a Sense of Social Justice, letter to the president from a
Grace. (Spring 2012). Sin Fronteras Boy, Rethinking Schools, 26(3).