One of the challenges of using videoconferencing in the curriculum is the middle and high school schedules. High school structures make it difficult to be creative; and the cost of scheduling content providers for each section at the high school level is prohibitive. Many great high school content providers are guest speakers scheduled at specific times, and it doesn’t take long for teachers to get annoyed when the schedule gets disrupted. Time for preparation for a videoconference is challenging as well. These are some of the reasons that middle and high schools tend to use VC less than elementary schools (for curriculum videoconferencing purposes, that is.)
So, one of the ways that I’ve been trying to address this challenge, is to schedule collaborations for each section/class period. This way each section gets the same experience, and since it’s a collaboration, it’s free!
Steps to Success
- Start with the curriculum. The project has to fit tightly into the curriculum to be worth the precious instructional time.
- Define it. I work with the teacher to define exactly what each class will do, to make sure it’s focused to the instructional goals.
- Set the dates & times. Save yourself some negotiation time and just pick the dates and times. Some of my teachers like to have all the sections on the same day; others want them spread out a bit.
- (Optional) Make a web page or wiki. I like to make a web page or wiki for the project so that interested schools can easily see which times I still need to fill.
- Logistics: If you have a mobile cart, the teacher may prefer to have the system in their room for all of the sessions. Some of my teachers prefer it in their classroom; others prefer to participate in the library.
Here are some examples of projects that I’ve been working on for middle and high school:
Point to Point Collaborations
- EcoConversations for middle school science classes.
- I really want to pull off a Black History Month set of VCs for my high school English teachers this year, but I’m not done writing the wiki yet. I am at stage 2 – working with the teacher to define what each class will do.
- Another high school English one I’m hoping to run in April is Poetry Month. I’ve had some high school English teachers really enjoy performance poetry videoconferences. I want to systematize the idea to reach more teachers.
These can easily be adapted to more simple point to point collaborations as well.
- I’ve been running MysteryQuest World for a few years; and this year have converted it to a one hour session to fit into one class period. I actually will have a few more spots in this one either Friday or Monday, so check back if you’re interested.
- HistoryQuest 8th grade has worked great for the 8th grade schedule this year. Civil War is scheduled for April.
- How are you meeting the scheduling and curriculum needs of your middle and high school teachers? Please comment and share any other tips you have.
If you are totally new to collaborative projects and/or would like step by step assistance making a collaborative project happen, from start to finish, sign up for Kid2Kid Videoconference Connections, a six week online course beginning January 25.