This is a true story, you never know who or what you are going to learn or participate in, just jump in…
As you know the fifth graders are collaborating with another school downstate in Illinois in the Collaborative Composer Project. My girlfriend set up a voicethread for us to collaborate. My students took to voice thread really well, setting up their avatars and accounts. I only showed then how to record, they figured out how to text and draw by themselves. Then about two weeks ago, through my PLN (Personal Learning Network) I got a message from a technology director in Florida, Lee Kolbert, that she was looking for a fifth teacher to collaborate using voicethread. I immediately said, “I had just started, only made one thus far, but let’s collaborate.” She gave me David Fisher’s email address and we connected online.
We set up a skype call just to discuss the collaboration. David and I talked for about an hour and really connected. His school was in Palm Beach, Florida and we set out for find a cool project that both the schools could be excited about. I asked him if his fifth graders study American History and did he know that the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln is the February 12, 2009? I had already set up a wiki, Lincoln212.pbwiki.com and we were going to have an assembly. How about a simple voice thread concerning the facts and fiction of Abraham Lincoln? It sounded fabulous. He really only needed one class, I am teaching three, so it was decided that I would pick one class to collaborate with and the other classes would do other collaborative projects with each other.
Now the real fun begins, this is where you are not going to believe. It seems the owner and developer, Ben Papell, of voicethread is a parent in his class and looking for a teacher to use voice thread collaborating with other schools and wants to use our collaboration as a model. I had a conference call with Ben and Lee Kolbert about the project. They would be my tech support if I needed it and allowed me to ask as many questions as I wanted. Ben Papell would set up an educator account for FREE and see how it goes. I needed to re-register with the school’s email address. My students would have to redo their avatars, but all the material on the Composer Collaborative would still be there, they would just have two accounts. I didn’t think this would be a problem. Little Sunset Ridge School District of 520 students in two schools, (296 at Sunset Ridge and 224 at Middlefork School) is much different from Palm Beach Schools, they have 200 SCHOOLS in the district. Plus, I felt I could get all my music classes to use it.
I will be setting up all the teacher and student account over the vacation. I will keep to my motto – start small, I will start the fifth grade classes, then the fourth, moving to the sixth and finally the seventh and eighth grade classes.
I am so excited about this, my students being involved in new technologies on the cutting edge – let the collaboration begin. Thank you PLN, you are the reason I have moved so fast in this technology world.