Tag Archives: Course 4

Kids Teaching Kids

During this past year I have been participating in the COETAIL program offered through YIS.  The program has been a fantastic learning opportunity for me and has given me hundreds of ideas that I want to use in my classroom.  One of the most consistent themes to pop up during the course is the idea of global collaboration (people working together to complete a common task).  The idea is intriguing to me and is one I plan on using next year.  To ensure that I do I decided to use the course 4 project to come up with a unit planner for a unit that I’ll be teaching next year.


I love having my students conduct experiments.  No matter what grade I am in I usually find a way to integrate a science fair type project.  Not only do they love this type of project but it also provides them with the opportunity to learn from each other as I make sure that they are given time to present their work to their classmates and others within the school.  However, I have been wondering if there is a way that I could expand upon this idea so that other students from beyond the school can work and learn together?

I also love having my students conduct research.  However, I find that many of the sites that my students go to require them to read or watch something (Wikipedia and YouTube for example).  There is no interaction involved.  If my students are anything like me, they need to be doing something with information in order to remember it.  Isn’t there a place way students can interact with the information that they are learning in online spaces?


After pondering the two questions above I believe the answer lies in creating a wiki (using a variety of other embedded tools) and a blog.  Using these two tools will allow my students and a partner class to create and share their learning with each other and the wider world.  For the purposes of this course project I decided to use science unit that I will be teaching next year as an example.

A rough outline of how I see the unit unfolding.


In order to ensure that this idea goes off without a hitch I need to find a class around the same age as my students who will be going working on a similar topic at the same time.  I will also make sure to consult Kim Cofino’s guide to global collaboration.  Below is a rough time frame of the unit and how I see it unfolding:

Weeks 1-2:

  1. Skype meet-up to introduce the classes.  Initially this can be done as a class meeting.  Afterwards it can be done in smaller groups to allow students the chance to get to know each other better.
  2. Introduce wiki, blog and other tools that will be used during this time.  This can be modified depending on student prior knowledge.  If this unit is done later in the year, it would be wise to allow the students a choice in the tools that they use.  If the tools are new to the students time should be set aside in order learn how to use them.
  3. Introduce the unit via some provocations and seeking out prior knowledge.  These can either be done traditionally or using technology.  It might be nice if the teachers could film some provocations videos to share with both classes.  This would allow the classes to get to know the other teacher.
  4. Have students post student questions onto Wall Wisher (this should be updated regularly)
  5. Students should blog about their thoughts and reactions to what has been going on (this should be ongoing throughout the unit).

Weeks 2-3:

  1. Teachers should select at least one student question each from Wonder Wall.  Using this the teacher should create a science experiment that can be conducted by the whole class.  As the experiment is conducted teachers should encourage students to think about the scientific process (take evidence using photos and videos).  After the experiment teachers should model research with the students to find reasoning for the results of the experiment.  Teachers should also explore how this force affects us.  Students should share that they have learned with the other class using some of the tools that will be used for the summative assessment.
  2. Teachers should take the documentation gathered from the experiment above to create a sample project page for the summative assessment.
  3. After the example experiment teachers should select a few more student questions to conduct more experiments.  These experiments should allow for more independence so that they can demonstrate the skills they learned from the whole class experiment.  Upon completion of experiments students should share their experiences with the other class.
  4. Field trip to explore the real world implications of forces.

Weeks 4-6:

  1. Students are shown the example summative assessment page.  Students should be provided an opportunity to question it and see everything in it.
  2. Students select a focus for their summative assessment task.

Summative task:

Throughout the unit students are expected to share their work and new knowledge with students in the other class.  This sharing could be does not always have to be done through a blog or Skype.  Teachers should allow time for students to come up with how they feel it is best to teach the other students what they have learned.  For example, they may want to reproduce an experiment so that they can take pictures and create a VoiceThread (thus allowing students in the other class to comment and ask questions).  Students may also choose to create a movie and personify the experiment.  The video could easily be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and embedded in the wiki (this still allows for comments and contributions from students in the other class).

When it comes time to work on their summative project, the students should already be comfortable sharing their learning with the other class.  The rough idea is that students in each class select a question or idea to explore (related to forces) and conduct experiments and research to provide an answer.  Ideally there should be a group in each class working on the same question (thus allowing for a sharing of ideas).  As students work on their project they should document their work on the wiki to foster the sharing of suggestions and ideas between the groups.  Students will also be expected to explore and comment on the work of other classes.

Eventually for the final project students will have created a wiki page that includes the following:

  1. Demonstration of collaboration between the classes.
  2. Demonstration of scientific process.
  3. Demonstration of research (citing sources of information).
  4. Demonstration of understanding of forces.
  5. Demonstration of the learner profile and transdiciplinary skills (if using this in an IB school).
  6. Use of a variety of tools.

Looking back on the unit, there are still things to consider before implementation.


I like the idea of this unit and the possibility of creating a class wiki that allows people to learn in a variety of different ways.  I also like the opportunity that allows for differentiation.  For example one group may feel comfortable making a video of their experiment, while another may feel comfortable taking photos.  Both methods allow them to gather evidence and display it in a way that suits them.   The project also has the opportunity to go involve not only global collaboration but the concepts of flipping a classroom.  Finally, I love the idea of working together with another class to create something that can be used by others to help them learn.


While I like the idea of this unit, I realize that it is not perfect.  One of my major concerns is fostering the collaboration between the classes.  As this is a science-based example, I am concerned about how best to foster online collaboration.  To me science experiments are tangible hands on experiences and I don’t know how that will translate in this project.  Also while the aim of this project is to create an interactive learning space, the end product could easily turn into a read and watch product.  Does anyone have any experience with global collaboration and a unit heavy on experiments?  What about ensuring the creation of an interactive wiki?


Video Credits:

Bill Nye the Science Guy- Quicksand found on YouTube, uploaded by Hungry Hom3r

(personal inspiration for this project idea)

Image Credits:

Chef Calendar by beneneuman found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Day 123- Thinking Cat by Miss Tessmacher found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed


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Filed under Course 4

5 Essential Elements for Successful Tech Integration

In my last post I discussed a model of responsibility for teaching technology outcomes such as the ISTE NETs or Journey On.  Central to this model was that it should be a team approach with all teachers using technology as a tool within their classroom student’s with the help of a technology guide to oversee and monitor the process.   While this sounds good in theory, the successful integration of technology requires considerable planning and support.

There are several tools available to help teachers evaluate their use of technology, including the SAMR and TPACK models.  However, if a school wants technology to be fully integrated across curricular areas there needs to more support provided than simply handing teachers a sheet and asking them to evaluate themselves and their use of technology in the classroom.  There are five things that I see as necessary for successful cross curricular technological integration:

There needs to be someone guiding both teachers and students in their use of technology in the classroom.

Technology Guide

The technology guide or technology facilitator is responsible for the overall integration of technology within the school.  They ensure that all technology outcomes are being met and are suitable for the students.  The technology guide also provides support and training for teachers and students when needed on topics including how to operate specific programs, assessment, digital citizenship, technology integration, and Internet safety.  They should also seek out new technologies and evaluate their usefulness in metting the aims of the school’s technology plan.

Continual training is essential to ensure that skills and knowledge are current.


Teachers need training in integrating technology.  This can be done by the technology guide mentor, outside presenters or other teachers.  However, topics need to be evaluated to ensure that they meet the aims of the school.

Successful technology integration does not happen overnight. People need time to learn, try new things and plan.


Time needs to be allowed for integration to happen at a pace that does not overwhelm teacher. Time needs to be allowed for integration to happen at a pace that does not overwhelm teachers.Teachers also need time to plan collaboratively with the tech mentor and other teachers to brainstorm ideas and create plans.

There needs to be freedom for teacher when integrating technology. Recognize that there will be both successes and failures. Celebrate and learn from both


When integrating technology teachers need to feel that it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them.  Teachers will be resistant to try new things when they are in an environment that will punish them for making a mistake.

There needs to be a plan in place otherwise nothing will be accomplished.


Teachers need a plan.  They need to know what the outcomes, who is responsible for which outcome, what the aims are for the school, what they achievement looks like, and what is expected of them.  This is probably the most crucial element, as without a clear and concise plan technology integration will fail.

A technology guide, training, time, freedom, and a plan are my five essential elements for successful technology integration into a school’s curriculum.  Admittedly it seems easy, however, in order to build a strong program that can continue to evolve there needs to be a lot of work put in.  What do you think are essential elements to ensure successful integration of technology in the classroom?

Image Credits

Tour Guide by andyaldridge found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Blogging Course for Teachers by Ikhlasul Amal found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

The Passage of Time by ToniVC found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Embracing Beauteousness by Martin Gommel found on Flickr Creative Commons Licensed

Swooshable Planning by Bohman found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed


Filed under Uncategorized

Who is Responsible for Technology Education?

Some of my earliest experiences with a computer were in labs just like this one.

Over the past week I have been doing a lot of thinking about technology and how it is used within the classroom.  When I was first exposed to computers in school, it was clear that there was a set computer time for learning basic skills. As technology has evolved schools are being forced to redefine how they wish technology to be used within the classroom and teacher responsibility.

Defining the Role of Technology:

Before considering how ICT outcomes should be assessed or who is responsible, a school must first come to an agreement on what the desired role for ICT is in the school.  In his article What Difference Might and “S” Make? David Warlick debates whether teachers should be teaching computer applications (a set list of specific programs with specific targets) or computer application (the use and manipulation of computers in order to solve problems).   The difference may seem subtle but has an immense impact on the way the school assesses the use of technology by students.

The ISTE NETS provides a framework for schools and teachers who would like their students to follow a computer application model.  If we follow the ITSE NETS and the computer application model, then the use of technology no longer becomes limited to a specific class but instead can be used across all areas and become a natural extension to the teaching and learning process.  However, I still believe that there needs to be a balance between learning how a set list of specific skills/programs and learning how to manipulate a variety of different programs. One must also keep in mind that some students will benefit from explicit instruction of new programs but others learn best through their own experimentation.  But who might responsible for technology education in this model?

Who is responsible?

In short everyone needs to be responsible for technology education.  There needs to be a balance between having a class to learn a specific program and allowing technology integration across all curricular areas.  For example a teacher may need to set aside a specific class to teach students how to use a specific program, application, or skill.  However, many of the programs, applications, and skills that are being taught can be used in a variety of curricular areas.   For example if I teach my students how to make a movie and export it, another subject teacher could easily make use of this skill within their class. Thus allowing technology to become a natural part of the learning experience that is no longer just reserved for technology classes.  For this to work effective communication, collaboration, and an educational technology expert who can help all parties see the big picture with the students are necessary.

In order for technology integration to work, there needs to be someone guiding all parties.

Technology Guide

In my ideal world the technology guide would work with teachers across grade levels and subjects to ensure that students are provided opportunities to meet the ISTE NETs, as well as ensuring that technology is viewed as a tool to help students learn and to create in a variety of settings.   The technology guide would help teachers learn new technologies as well assist them with creating age appropriate learning experiences and assessments.  The technology guide would also monitor overall implementation of the ISTE NETs through curriculum mapping of the overall program and records from their own classes.

In this post I discussed the idea that everyone needs to be responsible for teaching technology outcomes, whether they are the ISTE NETs or another curriculum (Journey On is the curriculum guide at my current school).  In my next post I will provide some practical ideas to help schools ensure that students are meeting technology outcomes within an integrated model.

Image Credits:

Students Working on class assignment in computer lab by Extra Ketchup found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Two equestrian riders, girls on horseback, in low tide reflections on serene Morro Strand Straight Beach by mikebaird found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Video Credits:

ISTE CEO Don Knezek Discusses the NETs uploaded onto YouTube by istevideos


Filed under COETAIL, Course 4