Sometimes the real nuggets at a conference are hidden away in poster sessions and student showcase sessions. Here’s one of those gold nuggets. It’s an excellent example of a sustained project – more than a “one-off” event, as Carol Daunt called one event videoconferences in our session yesterday. I think it’s an Australian term and it’s so descriptive!
I talked to Christine Olmstead, from the Brea Olinda Unified School District in Orange County, California about their project using videoconferencing and Moodle, an open source course management system. She is an educational technology specialist, working with videoconferencing and other technologies with her teachers and students.
Three 5th and 6th grade classes, two in California, and 1 in New York, did sustained projects together over the last school year. They shared in depth one of their projects. Two students from each classroom divided up the tasks required to run literature circles. In Moodle during the week they discussed and planned, and on Fridays the classes videoconferenced (10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST) to discuss and share their projects.
The first book they did together was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In addition to the literature circles, the classes also did hands-on projects related to the book and shared them with each other over videoconference. At the poster session table, they had a wonderful diorama of the manor house with the rooms described in the book. An example of just one of the student projects shared. They also watched the movie and discussed together the difference they saw between the book and the movie.
Then they followed up this project with another 6 week book study with the book Touching Spirit Bear. Same format of literature circles, discussion in Moodle, and videoconferences together on Friday. This one they culminated the project with a videoconference with Ben Mikaelsen.
This is a great model, easily replicable and can be done at just about any grade level. I’m glad I found this one!