- Build a collaborative wall without logging in.
- Add images, video and links to the wall.
- Create one place for resources, available 24/7.
- Give students a voice and a place to express themselves using a variety of multimedia.
- Embed a WallWisher wall into a wiki, blog or website.
- Enjoy Wallwisher Yubi for the iPad.
I can’t wait for this to come out! I love my stylus/laser too!
Six Keys to Successful Collaboration
Teacher collaboration—when it’s good, it’s very, very good, but when it’s bad, it’s horrid.
Many educators believe that implementation of the Common Core Standards offers an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration among teachers. What do educators already know about the benefits and pitfalls of collaboration?
Marsha, a science teacher from Kansas, posed this question to colleagues on the Center for Teaching Quality’s Teacher Leaders Network discussion board. Drawing on their own successful (and miserable) experiences, teachers identified key attributes of effective collaboration:
Clarity of Purpose
Top-down mandates for collaboration often fail. But systemic collaboration is not necessarily impossible—just tricky to design. And clarity of purpose is critical.
Some teachers noted that there are times—like when data shows students are struggling with a certain subject area—when mandated collaboration can work, as long as everyone understands its purpose.
Anne, a former state teacher of the year, described how she’d seen a school district achieve remarkable results after one middle school principal formed “small learning teams of teachers to accomplish a specific purpose.” Their goal? Improving reading instruction.
The teams cut across all instructional staff and had training in how to collaborate successfully. They studied about reading strategies together; designed, implemented, and assessed lessons; and made adjustments. All teams exchanged “big ideas” with each other regularly. The process spread from school to school—and the district saw impressive achievement gains.
“So I actually don’t think professional learning communities have to be made up of volunteers who see the value of collaboration at first,” Anne said. “Sometimes collaboration has to be mandated in order to ratchet up teacher learning in areas of student need. But if it is mandated, there must be training in the ‘how to’ and a culture of positive support, coupled with time, recognition, and incentives.”
A high school English teacher quoted a blues standard: “If it don’t fit, don’t force it.”
She pointed out, “Each member of the collaboration team would have to be convinced that their time and energy would benefit students, and there would have to be a process of coming to real consensus on what the intended outcomes for students should be. Commitment to that baseline focus would be necessary to hold the group together long enough for trust to develop.”
Bill, a Massachusetts teacher, observed that there’s a difference between “the professional, collegial trust I’ll give anyone on first blush” and the deeper kind of trust that is necessary for collaboration. And the latter takes time.
Time. This word came up over and over again—along with “money.” As Steve in Vermont put it, “Sooner or later, boards and administrators will have to confront the fact that if collaboration is desirable, it will have to be purchased, either with cold, hard cash or by eliminating vestigial tasks that don’t contribute to student learning.”
Many teachers had seen “good ideas” fail because they were mandated system-wide by those who underestimated the time needed to support the effort. One teacher offered a highly technical term for such scenarios: “a hot mess.”
Also important is how collaboration time is structured—or not structured.
Steve’s district has mandated “collaboration times” before and after school—but they are highly scripted, with protocols and reports. He suggests a different approach: “Why not create unstructured times in the school work day and avoid filling that time with stuff? Then encourage people to break out of their routines and talk with each other. See if it happens organically.”
Indeed, several teachers reported that their best collaborative experiences took place informally during shared planning time. Bill explained: “So many good initiatives for the school emerged from us bouncing ideas off each other randomly as we stumbled on them, then built off each other’s excitement.”
Understanding How to Collaborate and Communicate
Ernie, a Nevada educator, pointed out that the effectiveness of shared planning time depends on teachers’ understanding of how to use that time.
Noting that Learning Forward’s standards for professional learning address this, Ernie wrote, “Unfortunately, so much of what we do in schools comes in a neat little package with checksheets—and teachers aren’t encouraged to dig deep into discussing their practice and creating strategies to address the needs of their students.” Some teachers may need guidance in how to make the most of opportunities to collaborate.
Gail, an instructional coach, agreed. Active listening (as opposed to multi-tasking) is key: “When group members truly listen to one another, they are able to communicate their ongoing regard for one another and build the trust that allows them to collaborate effectively.”
Susan in Virginia added that establishing norms can help keep things running smoothly, even though some group members can find this to be an “unnecessary formality.”
At Kathie’s school in California, the collaboration opportunity afforded by early release for students on Tuesdays was “a total waste of time in most departments.” But that changed when a new principal informed teachers “how close we were to being taken over by the district due to flat test scores” and “made it clear that teachers were accountable for improvement, but also trusted to come up with their own solutions.” The principal “added fun to the mix as well.” The results? Focused, meaningful collaboration quickly led to significant increases in test scores.
Freedom to Explore
Freedom to explore can refer to the ability to choose one’s own professional learning community—within the school building or even beyond it. As a couple of teachers asked, why not look to Twitter as a home for substantial collaboration?
Even when collaboration occurs in formal groups, a skilled facilitator can amp up the freedom factor. A group at Mary’s school was focused on improving writing instruction, but the leader often seized upon ideas and (without discussing them) immediately began planning for implementation. Mary cringed, thinking, “That is the way to kill a good idea.” When the leader shifted her approach to give teachers more voice and room for creativity, lively discussion and action resulted.
There’s no magic formula for successful collaboration. But this dialogue demonstrates that teachers know a great deal about what works—and what doesn’t.
What do you think contributes to effective collaboration? What should teachers, administrators, and policymakers keep in mind when facing Common Core implementation?
So Who is Using Pinterest?
- Females 25-34 – 27%
- Females 35-44 – 29%
- Females 45-54 – 24%
How Engaging is Pinterest?
It was in 2010 that Facebook passed Google for the first time in time spent on site.
What is more telling is to compare the amount of time that the average user spends per month on the other social networks as a comparison measure of the level of engagement.
- Facebook is the most engaging site on the planet at 405 minutes per month
- Pinterest and Tumblr are equal in second place at 89 minutes
- Twitter comes in third at 21 minutes
- LinkedIn – 17 minutes
- Google Plus – 3 minutes
For those not familiar with Edmodo, it is a microblogging system designed specifically for teachers and students. Using Edmodo, teachers can create a microblogging network for their classes. Edmodo allows teachers to create a group specifically for their students and exclude those not invited to the group. Edmodo provides teachers with a place to post assignment reminders, build an event calendar, and post messages to the group. Users can share links, videos, and images.
Below is a list of things teachers and students can do with Edmodo…
1. Post assignments for students. Edmodo allows teachers to attach files to assignment announcements. If there is a file your students need in order to complete an assignment, they can access it at the same place they view the announcement. Less clicking is good.
2. Create digital libraries. Students and teachers can create digital libraries for housing their important files. No need to keep track of USB drives because you can access your files from any Internet-connected computer.
3. Post messages on the “wall.” This allows students to ask questions of each other and their teacher. Teachers, of course, can post messages for all students to read.
4. Create learning groups. Teachers can create groups of their students according to the courses they teach or create groups of students who are supposed to be working together.
5. Post polls for students. Use the polls to gather informal feedback.
6. Post a quiz for students to take. You can attach links and files to each question and answer choice. This allows you to post a document and ask students to read and respond to it. Quizzes can be in multiple choice, true/ false, fill in the blank, or short answer form. You can allow students to see their scores immediately or you can disable that option.
7. Connect with other teachers. Join discussion groups to share ideas about lesson plans, teaching strategies, and project development.
8. Create a calendar of events and assignments.
9. Access Edmodo through the free Android and iPhone apps.
10. Turn in assignments. Students can upload assignments for their teachers to view and grade. Teachers can annotate the assignments directly in Edmodo.
11. Create parent accounts. Teachers can create parent accounts. Parent accounts allow parents to see their children’s assignments and grades. Teachers can also send alerts to parents about school events, missed assignments, and other important messages through Edmodo.
12. Generate printable class rosters. If you’re going to have a substitute teacher in your classroom who needs a printed roster, you can print one from your Edmodo account. You can also export grades to an excel spreadsheet.
13. Embed Wallwisher into your Edmodo wall to host a brainstorming session.
14. Embed a variety of videos, images, and audio clips into your wall to spark a class discussion online.
15. Use the Google Chrome extension or browser bookmarklet to quickly add content to your Edmodo library. Anytime you find something on the web, click the Edmodo extension or bookmarklet to save it in your Edmodo library. Helps save time and keeps you organized.
16. Add and create badges for your students.
17. Join Edmodo Pulished Communities…great discussions and learning take place in these communities.
18. Create a book study group.
19. Create small subgroups from your class groups for hand-on/building assignments. (JIGSAW LEARNING)
20. Great place to have digital citizenship discussions. THINK before you POST!
One of the beautiful things about education is learning from one year and starting fresh with another. Education lends itself to collaborating and sharing with others…..what better way to find experts and information than CLASSROOM TWEETING. Students learn to express their thoughts and/or learning in 140 characters or less. As the teacher, you are able to gauge their learning on a daily basis. The longer they tweet… the more followers that follow and the more creative they will be with their mentions [@ mentions] and hashtags [#]. Daily “Tweet Outs” make students think about a meaningful statement that their GLOBAL audience will read, learn, and/or comment.
- Create one classroom account (easy monitoring).
- Create an avatar that best describes your classroom (you can change your avatar and password from year to year with your class).
- Create hashtags for different content/subject areas…you want to be organized and have an archived list for students to go back to as needed.
- Check your hashtags at http://hashtags.org/flatclassroom or by searching within Twitter. You want to make sure it is not being used.
- Model good tweets in front of the class.
- Make time to read other tweets.
- Follow people you can collaborate with and LEARN from…ex. NASA
- Monitor your account
- Tweeting can be a great communication resource for parents….ask them to follow. YOU do not have to FOLLOW them.
- EMBRACE IT….it is their world!
****Download TWEETDECK and TWITCASTING LIVE!