Since I weaselled my way back into the classroom a few years ago (after many years as a Student Success Teacher and ICT Consultant), I’ve taught all my classes with the help of others. Basing my courses around large, themed global collaborations and smaller class-to-class collaborations has brought energy, engagement, authentic learning and excitement to all my courses. Some examples are:
- participating in a global project looking at deforestation in Borneo (Deforestaction and Earthwatchers) in grade 9 and 10 science
- Google Hangouts, twitter chats and web conferences with Chris Hadfield, the ISS and other astronauts in grade 9 science while we compared neutron radiation all over Canada and on the ISS
- global malaria projects in grade 12 science
- collaborative music creating projects with students from all around the world with the Seventh Fire alternative program
- web conferences and Skypeing with other classes and former child soldiers in learning strategies
- video conferences with classes and scientists on Tundra buggy’s in the arctic with learning strategies and geography
- co-creating videos with classes from local elementary classes through video conference and Edmodo in grade 10 science
- teaching elementary classes about scientific concepts and learning from them in grade 10 science
- creating radio shows with twitter questioning for elementary students in learning strategies
This semester I am teaching math. I have been very focused on supporting the development of creativity and critical thinking through teaching through problem solving in Grade 9 Applied Mathematics along with the impact of different forms of feedback. I have struggled over and over again to find global or cross-curricular projects that will work for our rushed timelines in MFM1P. We have plenty of excellent, thought-provoking activities in class using tools such as ClassFlow, OneNote, Knowledgehook, DragonBoxEDU, PearDeck, Minecraft and Turtle Art. We have many real-world connected problems to use for context using popcorn, video, really big gummy bears, chocolate milk, etc. I still struggled to find ways to connect beyond our four walls. It has bothered me all semester. I know how engaging and organic the learning stemming from integrated projects can be and was stretching to find something (anything) that fit with MFM1P.
Heather Theijsmeijer (@HTheijsmeijer) broke my “collaboration block” (similar to writers block). Her Grade 9 Academic Science class sent a survey out to the world via twitter collecting data about energy use, home heating and internet use in households. She describes the science project here. When we accessed the spreadsheet of results this week there were over 600 responses, from all corners of the world.
My math class took the spreadsheet of data and calculated percentages. What percent of participants from the UK heat with wood? What percent of participants from New Zealand heat with oil? We also calculated the average daily TV and internet use approximated by participants from different countries. What resulted were great conversations in data collection, bias, statistics and geography. The class created a list of questions and sent them to the science class. Today we Skyped with them and got to hear the thoughts and ideas that they’ve formulated from their research into energy use and production in various countries.
My math class got to see how math connects to other subject areas such as geography and science. They became masters of converting between fractions, decimals and percent. They started developing some proportional reasoning skills. We will be able to use this data when studying relationships and scatter plots as well as proportional reasoning. What a great opportunity to learn about another area of Ontario and share our work with others. We will share data and visual representations we create with the data to Heather’s class so that they can use them in their projects if helpful. They have taught us about energy use and production in countries all over the world.
THANK YOU Heather. I live for collaborative projects and student learning is always so much richer, authentic, organic and deeper when our projects take us beyond our own four walls. EVEN IN MATH