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July 2, 2011 / JaymeJ

Making Connections

Officially, my ISTE poster session “Curious. Creative. Connected.” was about the various collaborative projects classes at my school have participated in over the past couple of years. Ultimately, though, every single conversation wound up at one question, “How did you FIND these connections?”

There are many organizations that facilitate these connections for a fee. Now it might be my roots as a public school teacher at a Title I school, or maybe the fact that I love a bargain, or just the idea that with a little sweat equity I can do things myself — but I don’t quite see the purpose of registering with a paid program. One amazing thing about the web, is the ability to connect easily with others.

Here are my top 5 suggestions to anyone looking to connect with another school/class/teacher for a collaborative project:

#edchat and #elemchat Follow these hashtags on Twitter. There you will find educators interested in creating and sustaining discussions. Expand your PLN. Follow some of them. Include these hashtags in your tweets to reach an audience larger than just your followers. For more about edchat visit: What is #edchat? by Shelly Terrell

#comments4kids Another Twitter hashtag worth looking at. If your students blog, and would like comments from others, tweet out a link and include this hashtag. Wednesdays are typically #comments4kids days, but any day will do! Check out the list of #comments4kids blogs. Even if your students don’t blog, the teachers and classes listed here may be willing to collaborate with you on something else.

REPLY to Tweets Many of our connections came in response to a simple tweet. If you read a “Who would like to…” or a “Looking for x grade to partner with…” REPLY. Raise your hand. Volunteer. Jump in!

Skype for Educators Now out of beta, Skype for Educators provides a list of educators, their location, and their areas of “expertise.” Everyone on this list is willing to Skype into your classroom. Take a look at the list of registered educators, make a connection, add yourself!

Rock Our World This is my all time favorite way to find collaborative partners. Apply to participate in a round. (Participants range from elementary to college level.) Not only will you video chat with other classes for the purpose of the project, you will make lasting connections and create partnerships that will extend beyond the ROW project boundaries. **Word of Warning: Rock Our World can be addictive. Once you participate, you may never want to leave. You will be part of the ROW family…and all of its rockstar goodness.** Read more about our Rock Our World experiences.

These ideas, along with a longer list of resources and projects, can be found on the Curious. Creative. Connected. website. If you have a collaboration tip, I would love to add to this list.

Now go out there and collaborate!

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4 Comments

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  1. visionsbyvicky / Jul 2 2011 5:22 am

    I really wish we could participate in Rock Our World but being a PC school it’s not possible.

    Some other projects (or ways to connect) that I have used … and all are free (or relatively inexpensive):
    If you’re an Elementary (or even Middle School) Tech Coordinator or Teacher, http://elementarytechteachers.ning.com/ is a great place to make contacts & set up collaborative projects.

    Similar to the Monster Exchange I believe but on a smaller scale: http://monsterproject.wikispaces.com/Welcome

    Flat Classroom Projects – these do have a cost (at least digiteen did last year) but there’s also a sweat equity option that can help with that. http://www.flatclassroomproject.net/

    Projects by Jen – not as collaborative as some but a good place to get started & they can be as collaborative as you make them. http://projectsbyjen.com/

    Winter Wonderland Project (K-3) – I have to put a plug in for this one since I help to run it. Good “project” to first get involved with an online project. Each month there is at least one activity that is collaborative and since all activities add to the wiki everyone who participates is building the project. http://winterwonderland.wikispaces.com/

    http://globaleducation.ning.com/ – Another place to find projects and collaborators

    NAIS 20/20 Global Challenge – I learned about this one in an ISTE Unplugged session and it looks like a great global collaborative project. http://www.nais.org/global/index.cfm?ItemNumber=147262

    • JaymeJ / Jul 2 2011 6:54 pm

      Thanks for these additions, Vicky. Some of them are on my resources list, but totally spaced on the Global Education Ning and Project by Jen. Both are amazing resources. Another great place to make connections is to attend the online Global Education Conference.

      We applied to participate in the NAIS 20/20 challenge for this coming school year. Hoping to be accepted! We are partnering with the same Turkish school with whom we do Monster Exchange, but with their 5th grade and ICT class.

      As for ROW, all you need is one mac with Garage Band. Maybe a parent could donate one? Or possibly a private school who is recycling older macs could donate one? Something to investigate!

  2. Julie D. Ramsay / Jul 2 2011 2:12 pm

    Jayme,

    Since my students and I do a lot of collaborating, we hear that question frequently. You give some really great advice here. Twitter is such a powerful tool to connect with other educators. I’ve explained that educators are a very supportive group of people. You never will know what responses you will get by answering a tweet or asking via a tweet. I’m off to check out Rock Our World. Thanks for sharing.

    Julie

    • JaymeJ / Jul 2 2011 4:28 pm

      Julie, you will LOVE Rock Our World. Email or DM me if you have any questions about the project. It is truly life changing!

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