Collaborative Projects


Keypals, Travel Buddies, Postcard Exchanges, Flat Stanley, Monster Projects - these are just some of the possibilities for engaging your students in collaborative projects where they have the opportunity to learn, engage and interact with students across the country or even across the globe. The great thing is that you don't necessarily have to have regular or whole class access to the Internet/ computers in order to participate. In fact I had classes involved in many of these projects as early as 1998. At the time we had 1 computer in our classroom and the only access we had to the Internet was my home computer with its dial up modem.







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Keypals

This was one of the first projects I attempted with a class. As they were 6 year olds I had them write their letters in their Draft Writing books as per normal. I then took their books home and typed up each child's letter which I sent as one email to our buddy class. My buddy teacher in New Jersey did the same with her students. Each child was assigned their own buddy so we made sure each child's part of the email was clearly named so that it was given to the correct recipient. By leaving a space between each child's contribution we could print out the email and cut it into strips to give to each child. These were either displayed on the classroom wall for everyone to see, glued into Draft Writing books to support formulating a reply or both. Both teachers involved in the project also sent letters to the buddy classes providing further details about school and life in our respective countries. This was in 1998; these days you could have children write their letters in "Word" documents saved to a server or a data stick so that you just need to cut and paste or attach to an email rather than having to type it all out yourself. If they have email access at school then you have the option of using that.

http://www.epals.com/

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Postcard Exchange

These days many postcard projects have an option for sending digital postcards instead of the more traditional snail mail variety. This can be useful if cost is a factor, especially when posting overseas. Having said that there is something rather special about receiving a real postcard that has been sent from the other side of the world. If you do decide to go the snail mail route you might be able to ask each family to contribute towards postage costs - it really depends on your school policy. I used to cover the cost myself, but that is really a matter of personal choice. On a plus side I still have all of the postcards from our exchange projects as a resource for Social Studies and Literacy which to me justified paying for the postage myself.

http://pcg.cyberbee.com/

Flat Stanley Project

This was a really fun project based on the book by Marc Brown. Having read the book to the children, we created our own "Stanleys" to send off on adventures. One project involved us in sending Stanley to classes in other countries, along with some bits and pieces such as postcards & stickers that represented NZ. We hosted their Stanleys in turn and took pictures, wrote in journals, etc which we then returned to the other classes along with their Stanleys (and of course ours came back too). Another time we sent Stanleys off to relatives and friends across NZ and asked them to send back a letter and/or photo of Stanley doing something typical of their particular region. Depending on your access to technology could set up a blog or wiki page for your Stanley where hosts could post photos and commentary about Stanley's adventures.


http://www.flatstanley.com/

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This would also work fo another of my favourite projects...

Travel Buddies

This is where you find a buddy class and arrange to swap a small soft toy with each other. This wee toy (and it's a good idea to keep it small and inexpensive both to allow for postage weight (especially when mailing to places like Hawaii) and the rare missing travel buddy disaster) is then sent, along with a journal and little iconic bits and pieces that represent your country, to your buddy class. These exchanges can be national or international. You receive a travel buddy for your class to host in turn. Our travel buddies would arrive with a journal for children to record the buddy's adventures in (which could be done as a blog/wiki) and we also sent emails between the two classes to keep everyone up to date with the buddy's, as well as to ask any questions we may have had.

http://www.epals.com/

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Monster Exchange

Your children create a drawing of a monster and write a detailed description of the monster's appearance. This description (without the picture) is then sent to your buddy class and your buddy has a go at recreating your drawing using the description provided. Both pictures and the description are then shared and compared. This could be as digital or non- digital as you would like/need it to be.

http://www.monsterexchange.org/ and http://monsterproject.wikispaces.com/Welcome
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Storybird

Your class can work collaboratively with other class members to create a Storybird e-book. If you want to take Storybird beyond your classroom walls you could create a blog or wiki and post a challenge task e.g. to write about a particular theme or use art work from a particular illustrator. Participants can embed completed Storybirds in the blog or wiki for sharing and feedback.




Quadblogging


Check out David Mitchell's site for details. Essentially you sign your class up for the next round of QuadBlogging and then you are assigned a quad. Each quad is overseen by a quad co-ordinator who is usually an experienced quadblogger.


http://quadblogging.net/