Collaboration and Technology

Readings for Week 2 were thought provoking: 

  • First, reading the Edutopia article on ‘Using Social Media to Teach Visual Literacy in the 21st Century Classroom’ reminded me of a student lesson converting the famous Romeo and Juliet balcony scene to a WhatsApp conversation, series of tweets or instagram messages. It got students excited engaged and talking to each other  (ISTE Standard #6 of a creative communicator) as they shared with the rest of the class. 
  • Second, the article ‘10 Strategies to Build on Student Collaboration’ greatest takeaway was to pick ‘real world problems’ and ‘clear goals’.
  • Furthermore, the article ‘Diversity Toolkit: Cultural Competence’ reinforced a teacher’s important role. I think as a teacher (past) at an international school we are always aware of cultural differences and the need to be culturally inclusive in our teaching. 
  • My children have used DESMOS in math and the ability of a teacher to pause, discuss and answer anonymous questions is great. 
  • Last, the article ‘Visible Thinking Routines’ was great for learning techniques that can be incorporated into teaching immediately. 

The last reading also made it easier to plan a lesson for grade 7-8 Social Studies or Humanities class. 


A lesson to start the ‘Human Rights’ unit for Grades 7 or 8:

  • Use the following images: Image 1, Image 2 to start off a quick individual jotting session on “What do you see?” followed up by “What do you see that makes you think that?”
  • Conduct a class discussion and record individual responses on poster paper that will be displayed in class. 
  • Show them a video What are Human Rights? 
    • This video will also spur them to action as ‘social justice’ is an overriding area of concern for young students. 
  • To identify an area that students want to delve into deeper I would like to try to have students brainstorm all the questions that they have after watching the video. 
  • Then as a class we will use the Question Sorting technique to formulate a horizontal continuum to assess how likely is it that a question will generate discussion and then a Vertical Continuum to ask how genuine a question is and how much do we care about them. 
  • From the list of vertical questions each group of 4 (teacher assigned) will choose a question and delve deeper through research. They can choose their direction of research. As a group they will conduct a 3-2-1 Activity with 3 Thoughts/Ideas, 2 Questions and 1 Analogy.
  • They will conduct research. 
  • After this they will use the web version (30 days free trial) of Touchcast Studio for students K-12 to form a video of their group responses to the 3-2-1 activity after their research. 

This lesson would focus on the ISTE standard #6 of a Creative Communicator. 

Students will have a rubric to be graded emphasizing visualization, models etc. of information. I like the rubric for grades 7-8 from EdLeader21 through the Creativity Rubric.


For further enrichment this project a teacher could use her account ( I did set up one but it takes upto 4 months to be vetted by iEARN) on iEARN (International Education and Resource Network). This kind of project would fit well under and ongoing project  Envision My Ideal World run by Chloe Richard, Uganda.


The strategies for Visual Thinking also closely align with the NESA spring 2019 session in Bangkok by Clayton Filter. He is a Learning Coach a the American International School in Chennai, India. Attached below is a link to his fascinating slideshow that he presented at NESA. 

“Personalizing Thinking Routines: Meeting Standards; 3-12 by Clayton Filter

2 thoughts on “Collaboration and Technology

  1. Dear Saaida,

    I love every one of your activities that you are planning and wish I could be a student in your class! The ‘See Think Wonder’ could be used for not 1 but 3 or 4 pictures shown in succession which highlight a different human right (access to education, potable water, freedom from slavery) and they can put them in a row across the graphic organizer. Most people would agree that they are all noble values, but ask the kids, if we agree on these, why is there still so much inequality in the world? What can be done?

    If you are enjoying books on creative communication, I recommend Sherry Turkle (Reclaiming Conversation) and Nick Carr (The Shallows). They are required readings for anyone who works in edtech and also bring good points of how we need to teach students to be responsive to conversations in real time.

    Coincidentally, I recently used ‘Touchcast’ for a project with my daughter. You might consider giving students an option of 2-3 platforms to use for their presentations and let them get creative and thus honor their student voice and choice. Some teachers I’ve worked with are monogamous with certain apps and some try to cycle through a dozen different ones over the year, thinking that more apps equals innovation and adaptability.

    Personally, I think that teaching students to make eye-contact with the audience, speak clearly, not have more than 20 words on a slide, and learn how to hook an audience is more important. In this sense, which platform student’s choose is less important that their public speaking skills.

    Let me know your thoughts on this conundrum and more importantly, how the lesson went! : )

    Gary Johnston

    • Thank you for the insightful comments. And, yes, I agree with using ‘See, Think, Wonder’ while using a succession of pictures for human rights would definitely fire up the class. And then the question, about why so much inequality exists in the world will end with the most popular answer ‘the government’! I would like to build in a response as to how ‘we’ all are part of the government. That would be an interesting lesson.
      I did try showing different images of the Vietnam War and Korean War and the technique of ‘See, Think, Wonder’ to generate key questions for an inquiry led by student questions.
      I will also look into the suggestive creative communication books. And you are correct that students should not be limited to one tech platform only rather they should have a choice as to what they want to present with.
      Furthermore, I had thought of a ‘Hyde Park’ like speakers box within the Harkness room in the library so students would have a chance to share their stories, poetry, speeches, views etc. voluntarily. Or a teacher could use it for student practice on being able to practice all the communication skills that you have listed. It would be a fantastic exercise if all my middle school would take their classes through the whole process.

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