KEEPING THE COLLABORATIVE SPIRIT ALIVE
To be effective and transformative, this type of collaborative learning cannot be a one shot exercise
during the school year. Teachers have to build on the skills and understanding and continue to
foster a natural collaborative learning community in their classrooms.
It was exciting to have an opportunity to do just that with the Grade Four team. The final PYP unit of
the year was about how media can influence the choices we make. The summative assessment
offers students the opportunity to develop an advertising campaign using made-for-print or video
ads. This assessment is highly constructivist and has always been completed in groups; however,
the team offered students better preparation in both collaborative skills and tools this year.
In the past students exclusively used application-based software such Microsoft PowerPoint,
instead of PowerPoint students naturally gravitated to Google Presentations.
So what did this mean for the level of collaboration observed in the unit? Teachers
observed a greater sense of unity and conformity with regard to the theme of each
ad campaign. This was achieved not through one student controlling the product
vision, but by creating a shared vision and allowing all group members to contribute.
What we saw in years past might be better described as cooperation. Since a video project was
confined to one student machine only, that one student tended to complete the
video with input from group peers. Other students wrote a script, built a
storyboard, or acted in the video, but the roles were generally quite separate and
clearly defined and in the end, one or two students did the bulk of the work. With
our 21st century tools and educational vision, we saw this shift into a more
collaborative exercise. With the video projects using Jaycut, each group created a
shared account into which every student logged in and uploaded images, video
footage, and audio files. Though only one student could actually edit the video at
any one time, the editing could happen on any computer at school or at home. This gave every
student an opportunity to participate at his or her own comfort level. Furthermore, script writing
occurred in many instances in Google Docs where all group members could easily add or modify
text as desired.
Student 1: “Hey [student 2] you haven’t put your images in yet.”
Student 2: “ I know. I’m having problems uploading them.”
Student 1: “Let me help. It looks like your image size is too big for Google. You need to
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