Blogging Across Borders

This UbD is about a project that I am currently working on with a school in Hong Kong. I have always believed that blogging is an effective way to improve student writing while developing responsible digital citizenship habits. However, now that I am in the middle of it all, I wish I had created a better game plan to help me navigate this new territory.

Overall, I believe this project thus far has been successful, but it’s been a messy success. For instance, students at my school were trying to find the latest post from the Hong Kong students. My students struggled to find the posts as the Hong Kong students’ websites aren’t structured the same way as ours. It was interesting to watch the students get immediately frustrated when the post wasn’t front and center! And the things I take for granted, such as finding the Recent Posts widget, they simply didn’t know. So it’s a great opportunity to have these great, relevant mini-technology lessons… it’s just not very clean.

Also, I haven’t really figured out what to do if a student does not finish an assignment. I know that both teachers at both locations already have a full plate, how can I in good faith really ask them to track down each and every missing post or comment?

Additionally, the fourth grade teacher on my end is a bit of a perfectionist and she checks each student post before it is publish. For me, I believe that mistakes are part of the process and have the potential to show growth. Obviously I want students to shine and not look foolish but I think there is something for some mistakes here and there. But for her, this is a necessary part of the process, I respect her methods, and I need to support her on that aspect. I just wasn’t expecting it.

One quite surprising and unexpected collaboration took place recently between the students. On the Hong Kong student sites, they have this widget or plug-in (I am not quite sure which) that the Istanbul students loved – it is these virtual pets that can be adopted. My students asked the Hong Kong students how to add this to their sites and the Hong Kong students sent the directions! The Istanbul teacher sent this as ‘extra’ homework and some of the students added this to their sites. Here is an example. I can’t wait to go in and have the students show me how they did this!

In my last post, Lessons in Global Collaboration, I discussed a post written by Kim Cofino in 2007 called A Step-by-Step Guide to Global Collaborations’. And much like when I look at student writing, there may be ten areas that a student needs to work on, but as the teacher, I will only focus on a couple at a time. I do not to overwhelm the student and to also allow that student to meaningfully reflect and make the changes.

As a person who did not write a UbD before staring this project (it would have been so helpful!) and looking at Cofino’s post, there are three things I would do before embarking on a global collaboration of this sort:

  1. Write a UbD paper to identify the standards being addressed, but more importantly, clarify goals, the essential question, and the enduring understandings.
  2. Task breakdown for teachers
  3. Have an ‘about this project’ page describing goals and who is participating, including assignments

Below are links to the teacher sites  in case you would like to visit this ‘in-progress’ project for yourself – each teacher site has a list of student blogs:

Ms. Haselmore’s site (Istanbul International Community School)
Mr. Stewart Grant’s site (Canadian International School of Hong Kong)

Personally, writing this UbD was very challenging in so many ways. But if I were totally honest, it really helped me to be clear on what I want to accomplish with this blogging across borders. I had to be clear in my goals and outcomes, but more importantly it gave me time to reflect on how I can do better next time!

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One Response to Blogging Across Borders

  1. Thanks for the suggestions in how to start a global project. I haven’t been as brave as you yet, precisely because I worried about some of the issues that you have faced however I think it is ridiculous to stop my students from experiencing such a good idea just because I’m worrying. I also read Kim Cofino’s post and liked the level of detail but I hadn’t considered that completing the UbD would be just as useful. Thanks for the extra idea!

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