Tuesday, July 24, 2012

No Man is an Island: Collaboration

Recently, I had an opportunity to sit down with a newer teacher (friend from grade school) to share resources. My friend just got a job as a middle school choir and drama teacher. While he is a pro at teaching choir, he does not have a ton of experience with drama. Even though I teach drama to high school seniors, we sat down, went through unit by unit, talked about how materials that could be adapted, discussed literacy, and reminisced about our own high school musical and theatre experiences. Going through my curriculum like that and acting as a somewhat "coach" for his new course, really made me think about how important collaboration is.

During the school year, we unfortunately don't always have the time to collaborate. With the hundreds of other duties and daily tasks that arise, this valuable component to our teaching and professional development can go to the wayside. This year I want to utilize technology and web tools to save time and engage in more collaboration with others, which can improve my curriculum and practices in the classroom.

When we work together, share our ideas, and rely on each other, we can generate innovative, effective, and engaging teaching materials.

My Top 9 Ways to Collaborate Using Technology Next School Year:

1. Establish PLNs (both in school face-to-face and out of school)

Having networks of people that we share ideas with and talk about curriculum with is vital to our growth and development. Being open and willing to listen and share both at school and in some other capacity (Twitter is a common one) can only challenge us to reflect more, become more creative, and improve all of our crafts. Our ultimate goal is to create positive learning experiences for our students, and what better way to teach them to engage in group work then by using group work ourselves.

Sharing in Google Docs allows people collaborate on documents and presentations with other people in real-time. Docs saves as material is created which can help ensure that important files are not lost.

Twitter allows people to reach out and connect with many people at the same time. With Twitter, a person does not have to meet F2F with his/her colleagues and can even rely on colleagues half way around the world for new ideas, thoughts, and insights.

4. Blogging

Blogging is fairly new to me personally, but I do read a lot of blogs. As I teach a new course, I really want to use my blog to flush out ideas and be able to share them with my colleagues in my district. If nothing else, it will be an interesting experiment.

5. Diigo

Diigo has been my new technology love this summer. While I've had an account for a while, I really started using it this summer. Diigo is a bookmarking tool that allows individuals to save sticky notes, comments, and highlight individual webpages and return to those notes later. On Diigo, people can also create groups and public libraries that can be shared with colleagues or students.

6. Skype

I am amazed at how many writers, professionals, and other teachers are interested in using Skype to reach out, talk to students directly, and share what they know with others. I reached out to a few authors on Twitter for my speech course and I was so excited that they really were interested and wanted to help out students in any way they could using technology like Skype. I highly recommend giving it a try!

7. Prezi 

Prezi is an interactive presentation tool that allows users to upload videos, pictures, and other materials with ease. While it is very similar to PowerPoint in some regards, it does have a more modern feel and application to it. Prezi also allows people to work on presentations in real-time from multiple locations.

VoiceThread is another collaborative tool that allows users to create shows with images, documents, and videos and share them with friends, students, etc. Users can record comments on VoiceThread as well, creating conversation. 

Live Binder is a free tool that could allow a paper to go paperless. It is a great way to organize resources, present material online, and store important documents. 

Tweets by @Steph_SMac