Thinking About a Project?

Your Common Goals

Your students and the students in their keypal class have spent a good bit of time getting to know each other and establishing friendships. Now that they are "bonded" it is a good time to suggest that they begin a project together. They have talked about themselves, their likes and dislikes, their hopes and dreams. Is there a common goal or objective that you and your partner teacher can reach as the students continue to write to each other?

What goals brought you to the partner class? Did you select the class because it is in a country that your students must study? Do they live in the right part of the world for a science experiment you would like to do together? Your content area might be math, science, social studies, art, music or any other subject. Whatever your reason for choosing your partner class, decide with your partner teacher how you can both achieve educational goals that you are required to include in your semester work. Perhaps you are both language arts teachers and improved writing is your goal. Design a project that will include the learning outcomes that you must teach.

While using emerging technologies in the classroom it is important to remember that curriculum is at the heart of what we must teach our students. Use your curriculum guides and plan to use technology as a tool to enhance student learning. As you design your lessons and projects understand the needs of your students in relation to these guidelines and frameworks.

  1. Discuss with your partner teacher your goals and desired learner outcomes. Brainstorm your objectives for the semester and list them.
  2. Do you have any common goals or goals that can be included in a project together? e.g You could do a weather project together with one class focusing on science and the other on analyzing data for a math outcome.
  3. Would your partner be willing to develop a project with you around these outcomes?
  4. Think of ways you will build collaboration into the project so that the classes are working together and achieving the goals that are necessary for their curriculum.
  5. What do you want your students to know that they didn't know before?
  6. What skills do you want to strengthen?
  7. What do you want your students to be able to do that they didn't know how to do before?
  8. What part of your project or activity is now possible because of technology that wouldn't be possible without it?

Sample Project Ideas

  1. Weather Project (for Science and Math classes) - Both classes gather weather data. One class interprets and explains the weather phenomenon and the other uses math to chart and anyalyze data.
  2. Collaborative Writing Project (for Social Studies and Language Arts classes) - Both classes share in writing about a topic on some part of the world. Class A focuses on content while class B takes the content and polishes the text. Classes work together at all times to make the finished product.

    • Story Ping-Pong - One student starts a story and sends it to another student in the partner class. That student adds to the story and then passes it back to the first student. The story builds as each student contributes to the "ping-pong."
    • The Global Novel - The CyberJourneys book titled English@Work contains a project where students in several schools around the world work collaboratively to write a global novel.
  3. Games Around the World (for Physical Education and Social Studies classes) - Students research games that kids around the world play. After the students have made a database of games they can conduct a "Field Day" of international games. Students in both classes will take pictures and share them with their online partners.
  4. Music Festival (for Music and Social Studies classes) - What kinds of music are popular with students around the world? What local musicians have become famous? What types of music are popular in your country and the country of your students' keypals? Students can research and share information about their musical favorites.
  5. Current Events (Language Arts and Social Studies classes) - using Time For Kids [choose the version for your students' ages] both classes can discuss current events and perhaps design a newsletter or newspaper about the news of the class, school or town.

Finding Projects That Suit Your Goals

There are many places on the WWW where teachers can find projects and activities that have already been developed. Many of these projects encourage global participation and include outlined time schedules and curriculum objectives. Much of the work has been done for you. If they match your curriculum needs, join in!

Kidlink is a global organization that promotes dialogue among students through secondary school. It provides a forum for many online projects.

  1. Kidproj - provides global projects, long and short term, that begin at various times in the school year.
  2. Kidforum - provides 6 week topics that are established before the September-June school year. Topics are on a fixed schedule.
  3. Kidlink's "Who Am I?" Program - an eight month program with 6 modules
Other project collections and interactive educational websites can be found on the WWW. Among them are:
  1. How to Participate in NASA's Online Interactive Projects
  2. European Schoolnet - Collaboration - Participate in a project
  3. ThinkQuest - an international contest for students ages 12-19 who design educational websites. Archives of past interactive entries are available

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Patti Weeg
April 17, 2004