Cooperative and Collaborative Learning

A fun activity that could serve to introduce teachers to several web 2.0 activities.

Random Album Art

Key questions to be answered today.

What is the value of technology in education?
How do we prepare students for the knowledge age and beyond?
What tools are appropriate for the classroom?
How do we create technology-based activities that accompany the curriculum?


Did you know? 2.0

Pay Attention

20th century workers vs. 21st century workers

20th century workers were generally like late 19th century workers. Most of the workforce was organized similar to an assembly line, each person doing their own job. A small minority of workers were innovators. The vast majority of workers just did the one job they were told to do. Advancement was moving from one position to another along the assembly line until a person got enough experience to supervise others and then the worker might reach a level where they could innovate. As we moved through the 19th and 20th centuries, more people reached the level where they could innovate. Collaborative efforts involved teams that proposed multiple courses of action and then they voted or arrived at a consensus on one that they would implement. Collaboration happened within the same communities except at the very highest levels and that was generally communication, rather than collaboration.

21st century workers still have their job to do, but the vast majority of them are in positions that require innovation as soon as they begin the job. Workers understand each other's jobs and philosophies. Often their job responsibilities overlap into their colleagues' job responsibilities. Those people have to think differently. They will also be faced with situations that might seem incompatible. Rather than declaring them incompatible and deciding on one over the other, they have to find ways to make the two ideas work together. Collaboration between people of different cultures and nationalities happens routinely at all levels.

Lets take just an example of how the 21st century mindset is different than the 20th/19th century mindset. What is the 20th century mindset regarding education and standardized tests?

Opportunities for Response

Use the wikis below to record your research and discussion points today. Later you will also use them to tell us about the experience today. Work together as a group only one person should be editing your wiki at a time. The tables are numbered, please use the wiki page that has the same number as your table.

Table 1

Table 2

Table 3

Table 4

Table 5

Table 6

Table 7

Table 8

Table 9

Table 10

Resources for research
21st Century Skills Poll
Marc Prensky, Do They really Think Differently.,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part2.pdf
21st century skills blog post with comments
Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Constitutional studies
Online visual programming
Teach Jeff Spanish
The storychasers page

Information Literacy

Accuracy test


Reading a URL.

There are certain things that you can tell about the web page above. The edu tells us that it's an educational institution. The domain name tells us that it is the University of Michigan. That can cause more trouble than you might think because the fact that it is on a university server seems to imply some credibility. The next piece of information is very important. The ~engtt516 tells us that it's a personal page on the university web server. Any time that you see a tilde after the domain name, it means the page is managed by an individual, not the owner of the domain. Universities provide web page space for their faculty and students. The thinking is that they can use it for educational purposes, but they are not monitored by the owner and in fact won't be tampered with unless there is a legal issue. This wouldn't have caused many people to consider this problem if it weren't for webpages like the one below which was on a university server for many years.
Holocaust revisionism.

Searching for Information

U C Berkley paper on search strategies

Noodletools list of search engines

Internet Collaboration

The Internet is evolving into what is referred to as the web 2.0. Some refer to it as the read/write web. It is a more interactive Internet. Blogs and Wikis with their forum-like features and interactivity capabilities are at the heart of this transformation. This really is not new, in fact the Internet began as a series of message boards; and message boards and discussion boards have been a part of the Internet throughout its existence. The technology available now has made it easier for Internet users to create, manage, and participate in these interactive types of web pages. The ease of use, interconnectivity, and RSS syndication features of these web pages has allowed people to create social communities online. While this concept is not new, current technology has made it easier and more efficient to connect with people via the Internet.

Blogs are web logs or journals. They are set up for an individual to post journal entries as often as possible. The person's friends can read their journal entries and respond by leaving comments, or writing a response on their own blog and linking to the first one creating a trackback. Because of this, blogs became a tool for developing online communities. This makes a blog a powerful tool for teachers.

The ability for students to leave comments can make a blog a great structure for discussions like literature circles or revising and evaluating writing.
A blog can also be used for students to detail their progress through a project or experiment.

A common use of a blog is a Literature Circle. Although the individual teacher can vary the structure of the blog’s design (Discussion Forum or Author Involvement), the concept remains the same: students are actively interacting with others to widen their knowledge base on a particular literary work. Here are some examples of how a Literature Circle could function:

1. Discussion Forum
The MISD 4th Grade ELA curriculum, first 9 weeks, deals with many novels, including Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. The concepts of its writing workshop cover “analyzing patterns in what you read” and “comparing organization of different texts.” As the teacher, you could set up your MISD blog as a major pipeline through which your students could respond to statements/questions regarding patterns and organization as they apply to this story. Students could either reply to your statements/questions OR they could respond to another student’s comment. It would be wise to set up the expectations ahead of time and make sure that students understood the requirements. Asking them to respond to each of your posts at least once (or another student’s comment to one of your posts) would be parallel to having students write in journal. It would also allow them to see what other students think about the topic, often those students who would not normally speak in class. This forum could then act as a centralized discussion area for important concepts, all of which are directed and controlled by you.

2. Author Involvement
Since Judy Blume has a blog of her own ( ), it is not inconceivable that she would welcome an opportunity to interact with your students. Again, it would be wise to set up the expectations ahead of time and make sure that students understood the requirements. Think of the impact it could have on your students to ask questions regarding patterns and organization to the author of the book. Students could submit their questions to you for review, and then either you or the students could send these to her through her blog. I would probably consider consolidating questions so that Judy isn’t hit with 22 questions a week from your students. To avoid conflicts with choosing a suitable question, you could have them submit the questions to you and then have the class evaluate the questions (names withheld) and choose a “winner.”

Either of these examples has added benefits: writing improvement and ownership. If I was a fourth grade student writing to a global audience rather than just my teacher, I would tend to be more attentive to my grammar and writing style. For a student to take ownership of his/her learning, there has to be value in it. Becoming part of the global community through the guise of a blog and/or interacting with the author of a book he/she is reading are powerful draws to encouraging ownership.

Where in ...

A blog like the project below can be used with a geography unit.
Here the students are posting requests for information. They are able to read each other's questions and the answers that they received to solve the mystery. They aren't working with a specific group on a specific project, but they were all sharing information with a larger group that shared a common goal.

They needed to frame their own questions according to the information that they needed. They get a lot of experience sorting through clues that they are provided for them to solve puzzles, but they need to get practice generating questions to get a specific piece of information.

The teacher is able to edit each question before it shows up on the web page so that the question and answer are both part of the same comment. You can also hold back on approving some answers so that others can have more time to solve the mystery.

Natural Resources

This blog can be used for this activity from the 3rd grade Social Studies curriculum guide.

Suggested Activity: In pairs students review a several pictures from magazines depicting different environments. Students describe the environment in one column and list possible modification in another column.

Place a picture of an environment as part of the post explaining that you want students to leave a comment describing the environment


Another example is this effort from DP109.
This class used the blog to pose questions to two businessmen in different parts of the world. They were examining globalization and how it affects the workplace. Students posted their ideas of what questions should be asked. The teacher put them together and came up with a list of questions they would ask in a Skype interview with the businessmen. The teacher then asked the students to formulate a thesis statement for their paper on globalization and post it.

The questions could have been submitted and answered though the blog. It isn't the same as the discussion was, but a few more people might have been able to participate. The students could have asked more questions to clarify, and if the businessmen had a blog, they could have received notification about any new questions. The dialog might have been able to continue throughout the project, and the businessmen could have tracked the project as it progressed. The students could have discussed their conclusions and even shared their paper where the businessmen could access it.
A blog is a very easy way to place information on the Internet. The interface, called a wysiwyg looks like a word processor and saves directly to the web page. The information is also organized in an easy to read structure.
A post is an easy way to store links for Internet research, scavenger hunts or even webquests.
The ability for students to leave comments can make a blog a great structure for discussions like literature circles, revising or evaluating writing.
A blog can also be used for students to detail their progress through a project or experiment.

Video Conferencing

Another common tool for distance learning and collaboration is instructional videoconferencing (IVC). MISD has an IVC system on each of its campuses, so availability is not an issue. Let’s look at a few examples of how the IVC system could be used in conjunction with the ELA curriculum.

1. In the Third Grade ELA curriculum (2nd 9 weeks), one of the foci is on “Cultures, Analyzing Characters.” This provides ample grounds for utilizing IVC to bring your students together with a class from another part of the country/world. Any work that you choose could be the subject of the IVC session(s). Once you have decided upon a work and delineated the goal of the collaboration, the MISD Educational Technology Department would find a partner for you. It is best to allow at least two weeks lead time to secure a partner (a month is better).

Here is how it could proceed: You select a novel/story with an outcome project based on character analysis and cultural differences – the project could be a PowerPoint presentation, an oral presentation, or a poster with accompanying oral description. Then, you would inform the MISD EdTech Department who would then find a partner school. Once your partner is selected, you would proceed through your unit and prepare your students for the culminating IVC session(s) where they would share their project with another class. During the entire process, you will need to be in contact with your partnering teacher to insure that your outcomes are compatible and that time is used effectively (the EdTech Department can assist with this).

It is recommended that, during the course of the selected project, the students on each end collaborate with one another through e-mail, blogs, wikis, or good old snail mail. You could organize the collaborating students in individual pairs or groups, but it is important that you, as the teacher, keep control of the communications to avoid any missteps. The culminating IVC session would consist or students sharing their projects back and forth.

2. Another possible IVC session(s) could focus on the analysis of poetry, its elements, or dramatic interpretation of a poem. Here is a template that you could use for a poetry slam: As you can see, this could also be modified for other genre of literature as well as any other aspect of a particular work (character analysis or cultural differences, to name two). This type of IVC session provides many opportunities for writing, speaking, presentation, and project construction.

An IVC session(s) is a powerful tool that your students can use to explore your assignment as well as the way others see the same topic with a different flair.


Wikis are slightly different from a blog. A wiki may or may not allow users to leave comments. They are not organized in as strict a structure as blogs. They are as easy to publish as a blog because they generally have a wysiwyg also. Wikis have a more interactive ability. Another user can actually edit the document.
Use a wiki for groups to work together on a project. Group members can work together to add research data, type a project, or prepare a report from any computer that has Internet access.
Wikis can be used for translating a foreign language, practicing sentence editing or proofreading. The following resources are provided should you want to conduct further research.

A Wiki is another tool to collaborate across a distance. A wiki is a bit more versatile since anyone can edit it, so students from across a great distance can actually work on the same paper or project. A 3rd grade class in our district and another 3rd grade class in Avon, Ohio are working on writing a chapter book together. They set it up for the students in Magnolia to write the first chapter and then the Avon students write the second chapter, and so on.
That could be easily done though a blog with the students leaving comments for the writers to edit the chapter, or with a wiki, the students could actually edit the chapter that their counterparts wrote. The students could read their partners chapter and add a paragraph that makes an important twist in the story smoother.

Some students used wikipedia for a project to tell about the Pitot House in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Some community members picked up the project and made it a part of their project to promote New Orleans.

In the Flat Classroom Project a class in Georgia and a class in Bangladesh participated in a book study of Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat.
Each student was paired with a student at the far site to write a "paper" exploring some of the topics in the book. The "papers" were wikis.

An interesting project using a wiki is the Nutmeg project. This project allowed students to write guides to the books that had been nominated for the Conneticut Nutmeg Children's Book Award. Their goal for the project is displayed below.

The goal of this project is to create an encyclopedia for the Nutmeg Book Award 2008 nominees. Each book will have its own page full of information related to the book. As they read the Nutmeg Book Award 2008 nominees, participating students are encouraged to add information, ideas, comments, opinions, pictures, maps, and anything else related to the books. Students will collaborate on the same pages, editing, enhancing and revising each other's content where they see fit.

This same idea could be conducted in Magnolia with the Bluebonnet Book Award.

A wiki would be an excellent tool for teachers who want their students to work together to learn and practice writing skills. First grade students could type their stories in the wiki. Then second grade students could edit their stories to show the first grade students how to expand and elaborate in their stories. This would demonstrate where could they add details and what words might make their stories more interesting for others to read. Students in higher grades could continue to expand these stories. What a great teaching tool for creative writing!

Video Creation and Sharing

Digital storytelling handout

Storyboarding handout

Technology that we can use to create video is easy, cheap, and abundant. Most computers already have the software. Any Apple desktop or laptop computer has iMovie and any PC that has Windows XP service pack 2 or later has MovieMaker. Both applications are powerful enough to combine pictures, video clips, music, and narration into a quality video. It is almost as easy as creating a PowerPoint© presentation.

Applying Technology

Use the wikis below to tell us about the experience today. Work together as a group only one person should be editing your wiki at a time. The tables are numbered, please use the wiki page that has the same number as your table.

Table 1

Table 2

Table 3

Table 4

Table 5

Table 6

Table 7

Table 8

Table 9

Table 10

Online E-Learning Platforms like Moodle

The Process of Creating a Constitution

Students draft their own constitution, then consider the different issues that the framers dealt with and add to the document to take care of issues and while keeping the core issue of freedom.

Social Bookmarking

Another powerful tool for teachers is social bookmarking. Social bookmarking is a tool for people to share links to websites. One of the more popular social bookmark sites is delicious


Distance collaboration is a tricky issue to tackle, but one that is entirely possible without requiring much more time than the usual project. The concept is much the same as any other project. The teacher just has to analyze how the students will interact and structure the unit of study in a way that supports that interaction. If you have much experience in creating webquests or have ever sat down and analyzed all of the steps that go into a project-based unit of study, then you are most of the way there. All you need are the tools. If you want students to contribute or discuss but not edit, then use a blog. If you want students to be able to edit and completely share in the construction of the project, then use a wiki. Either way the opportunity is amazing for you and your students.

RSS Aggregators

Blogs and wikis aren't just for creating content and working together. Perhaps, the real strength of these pages is the way that everything can be connected with RSS feeds.