Friday, October 3, 2014

My First Collaboration

After one of our Manitoulin IGNITEd (@ManIGNITEd) sessions on global collaboration last year, I've wanted to get better at connecting my students with others. Having never done anything like that before, though, I struggled with how to make that connection and how to approach it with my classes.

I started last year with a collaboration between my grade 10 applied math class, and another grade 10 applied math class in our school. Together, we created scavenger hunts for each other as part of our culminating projects. The students loved having other students checking up on them and eventually testing their clues - it added a whole other dimension to their work.

This year, I've made it my goal to better connect my students with others outside of our school, off our island, and maybe even in other provinces and countries. @TracyZordan has expressed interest in collaborating cross-curricularly with my grade 11s (Tracy - I haven't forgotten! Just waiting to get a little further into my course), but I'm still scared - I wanted to start a little smaller. One step at a time, right?

So last week I threw it out on Twitter that I was looking to connect my class with another class somewhere doing ratios and percentages. @PatGrew responded, and together, we crafted an assignment that has our students capturing images in order to create ratio and percentage questions for each other. 

To facilitate sharing, we created a Twitter handle - @gr9ratio - so that students without a Twitter account could post through that account (Pat and I both have the password), and students with their own handle could tweet to @gr9ratio. And for the past week, the tweets have been flying back and forth!

First, some introductions: 

And then the students started posting their pictures and questions:

Over the next little while, our students will answer each others' questions, and we are hoping to actually connect via FaceTime on Monday while our classes briefly overlap in time. My students are loving having a little portal into another class of grade 9s, and I'm loving their creativity as they pick their images. I was surprised to see them choose things that are personal to them - favourite movies and music, pets, medals they've won - things they want to reach out and share with other teens.

We've had a few technical glitches along the way (our board blocks Twitter on our network, so I have to unblock it on school devices, and even then our connection is not always reliable), but this has proven to be a great way to start each class. The students look forward to having their images and questions posted, and are enjoying solving another student's questions.

It's not a super big collaboration, but it's a first step connecting outside our school. I'm so glad I was able to connect with another teaching willing to try this with me! And with this step firmly in place, I'm already looking forward to the next collaboration project. 

Update: The project has now ended, and you can see the full twitter exchange on Storify here.


  1. What a great idea. Simple but by the sounds of it very engaging.

    1. Thanks for your comment! It is very simple (I wanted to start small!) but you're right - the engagement is unparalleled. A fun way for the students to practice basic skills!

  2. I really like the sound of this idea too! What a meaningful way to collaborate. How do you get the students sharing more of their thinking through their answers? What have you found about the types of questions that they ask? How do you get them to ask more higher level questions? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I've been thinking a lot about questioning recently too.


    1. Thanks, Aviva! I can only speak for myself (not Pat), but I talk to the students a lot in class, have them explain their reasoning and help them through misconceptions verbally. It's tough to get that reasoning into a tweet, so we just have the students tweet the answers they come up with.

      We have struggled with the level of questioning - Pat in particular said that it was hard to guide the students away from simply asking for ratios of numbers of items. We would love to see them look at percent larger or percent smaller, but don't want to give them their questions. We're also sharing between two different levels of grade 9 - academic and locally developed. The learning goal is the same, but the strength of the background of the two groups is vastly different.

      I'm not sure where Pat will go with this once we're finished sharing, but I know we'll be revisiting ratios when we investigate rates of change and unit rates, so I'm hoping to tease those bigger questions out of the students then :)

  3. Awesome!! Thank you so very much for sharing this!

  4. Loved checking out the tweets on storify; what a great record of your correspondence. Great idea - you say it's not 'super big,' but you're wrong. It's the start of something. :)


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