Tool #7: Reaching Outside your Classroom: Online Digital Projects

...Opening your classroom door to the world (or across the district)!

If there is one thing that the Internet and Web 2.0 have done for classrooms, it has taken down the classroom walls. Today, people can collaborate with anyone anywhere. There are classrooms from all around the world collaborating with other classrooms in online projects of various shapes and sizes.

One of the biggest and most successful projects has been the 
Flat Classroom Project. It began as two teachers,  Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay, collaborating across the globe as their students read Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat. Atomic Learning even has a Workshop, Seven Steps to a Flat Classroom, designed to help get your classroom ready to participate in such an event. It has grown substantially over the years. This interview with Julie and Vicki discusses the challenges and the benefits of the flat classroom projects.

Before you jump into one of these projects, there are a few underlying concepts that need to be addressed with students prior to working collaboratively:
Your first steps to opening your doors and working collaboratively with other classrooms need not start halfway around the world.
  • You can begin developing the skills for asynchronous learning between student groups within your own classroom - with students in different periods. Consider having students work collaboratively on a Google Doc, Voicethread or Google Site. You can begin developing the skills for synchronous learning during classroom discussions using tools such as Today’s Meet, Cover it Live or Poll Everywhere.
  • Then, try to find another classroom on your campus. Can the two classrooms work together on a Google Docs or collect data together on a Google Spreadsheet?  
  • After that, can you connect with other classrooms in the district?
  • Before you know it, you will be finding teachers/classrooms in other cities, countries!
Ideas for asynchronous projects:
  • Collect data on: rainfall, sun/clouds, temperature, birds;
  • Write together: creative stories, information about city, culture, country, government;
  • Share/collect items - Flat Stanley, cultural artifacts
Ideas for synchronous projects:
  • Introductory/culminating/periodic activity for asynchronous collaboration
  • Interviews - authors, experts, parents, etc.

Ready to take the dive? Here are some online collaborative projects, many are ongoing:
Curriculum 21 Global Partnership
Taking It Global: Inspire Inform Involve
iEarn: Search by Subject, Age Level, Language
CIESE - Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education
OneWorld Classrooms
Class2Class - Math projects

Got your own ideas for collaboration and just need to find other classrooms? Try:

Skype in the classroom: directory created by Skype - now connecting
Skype in Schools: Select directory to add yourself to the directory
Authors who Skype with Classes

Edmodo Communities: Find other classrooms through the communities page

Don’t see a project that you like? Create your own! Invite members of your PLN!
Steps to develop an online collaborative project

Here are some links that could prove to be helpful when planning a video conference:
Framing a Skype Learning Experience
Assessment of Learning via Skype

For your Tool 7 assignment, create a post and respond to the following:
  1. After visiting the resources above, design a collaborative project with another classroom.
  2. Post the following about the project:
    1. Content objective
    2. When you plan to implement
    3. What tool(s) you plan to use
    4. A brief description of the project (plan - two or three sentences)
    5. If you need to find another classroom - We can begin networking with other classrooms right here!


  1. Love the idea of framing a Skype learning experience. My sister is a kindergarten teacher in Illinois and I would love to do a weather unit with her class.
    The objective woould be something like;
    *TSW understand that the weather changes through the season in different ways in Illinois and Texas.
    *Implementation would begin on the first day of fall and continue through December.
    *I could see using google doc. and youtube to sent videos of the different weather on predermened days. This way, we can see and read about the kids reflections about weather here and there. My sister and I could use edmodo to create, send and be on the same page with assignments.
    *The plan is to understand that fall can look different in different places and this effects animals, plants and people in differnt ways depending on where you live.

  2. Lori,
    I like your idea very much. I think I can do something like that in my class to.

  3. Tool #7
    Project Idea
    Hanne Rodriguez
    4th grade

    Content Object: TSW become aware of environmental issues in their own home region and across the world. Particularly with the simple everyday use of plastic and paper bags.

    15 million trees are cut down annually to produce paper bags in the US alone.
    12 million barrels of oil are used annually to produce plastic bags
    Less then 1% of plastic shopping bags get recycled
    Each year over a million birds and sea mammals die from plastic ingestion or entanglement

    Implementation: This project would begin the first week of school and continue throughout the entire school year, hopefully with various assignments which hone in on all subject areas of the 4th grade.

    Tools/Internet: website: gethipgetgreen.com Tools: Google Doc, Google Reader, Voki, Blog, Skype, TIG, Edmodo, uTube, Voicethread, Animoto, Diigo for research...all of these tools can have some function with the project.

    Plan: The main plan would be to have students become aware of the facts stated in bullets above. Compare those facts with other countries. Communicate their findings,awareness, research, reflections with each other and classrooms around the world. In the end of the project, the plan will continue in hopes that they will have the basic foundation on this issue to continually educate others and change habits harmful to environment and animals.

    1. Hanne, that sounds like a great idea!
      I'd like to expand that to connecting with students in other areas about their projects for recycling a sustainability.

  4. Google Doc and Skype are tols that could be used in Health fitness. Google Doc format with other teachers maybe more useful to me.

  5. Objective: Given the Shelfari website, TLW write a book review of a previously independently read book citing short summary, likes, dislikes, groups that might be the most interested in reading.
    I hope to do this in the spring after we have time to look at book reviews and write a few on our own.
    Shelfari website
    I have created classes in Shelfari. Students will be able to comment on books read and read comments on books they might want to read. I hope to make this an on going project

  6. I might not implement this until I am more familiar with the Tools, but I can see using Google Apps or Edmoto in collaborative projects. Digital Citizenship is a critical issue in the communications classroom.

  7. I posted all my collaborative lesson on my block.

  8. I posted my collaborative lesson on my blog.

  9. the collaborative project I would like to do is with another Spanish class at my school.

    Content objective: have students in both classes provide input and compare their findings/thoughts

    The tool I would like to use is Voicethread

    A brief description of the project

    Why is it important to learn French / Spanish in today's world? What are the benefits/advantages of learning a second or third language? What other languages are you interested in and think will be important to know in the future?

  10. This session idea on digital history project management interests me, and may be relevant for projects both big and small.

    Air Conditioning Indianapolis

  11. After viewing some of the ongoing projects, I LOVED the idea of going global. I saw this idea on iearn.org. I have an aunt in Mexico who is a teacher and another one that is a principal also in Mexico. I could actually connect her class to mine in a discussion about our cities both Mexico and the US. This idea is perfect because I am a bilingual teacher. So here's who I would do it.

    Content objective: TSW connect globally via webcam to gather information.

    Implementation: I plan to implement this project in the Fall when we discuss urbanization and cities in our Social Studies class.

    Tools: I will use Skype for the classroom and "My Wall" a link that I created in my blog to discuss afterwards.

    Description: My 4th grade class will connect via Skype to a classroom in Mexico. ( my aunt's) to discuss and gather information about each city's culture, tourism, and people. We will then log on to my blog where the students will have an opportunity to post their findings. I will also have a space in my classroom blog where the students can discuss their experience using Skype in the classroom.

  12. I like the ilearn site. I would use this website in social studies to allow students to discuss how we are alike and different. I think this is a great way to take a "virtual fieldtrip"!

  13. The collaborative project I would like to complete is a project with the two other bilingual classes in Pre-Kinder and I would like to use the Animoto tool.
    Objective: TLW compare and contrast the differences between " THe three little pigs" and " Goldilocks and the three bears" . THeses are two tales that both Spanish and English speakers know very well. The students would use Animoto to complete this project. I plan to implement this after the first semester of school. After the kids come back from winter break and are more confortable with the technology tools available to them .

  14. I think this idea is awesome...however I scanned through most of the projects available on those websites and could not find one that I could envision using in my classroom. Also, as a new teacher, I was not sure if I should invest time in beginning project since I'm still learning what I'm teaching!

    That being said, I am hopeful to use google docs/skype (which I feel very comfortable using/familiar with) and look back to these websites for ideas/projects during the school year.

  15. I like the idea of Skyping other classrooms.

    My school will be participating in a video broadcast by a former student of ours who is in the Aegean sea on a project.

    He will discuss what the weather is like there, how the project is going, the impact this opportunity is having on his life, and hopefully inspire the kids to reach for their dreams.

    We will receive the broadcast on the 28th of August.

    We will use video on the laptops and project the video onto the board.

  16. I would like to implement the Edmodo site to create an on-line classroom experience. I would like to pose questions the students could answer during their center time for reading and math. I think this is an opportunity to raise the relevance and rigor in the classroom.

  17. For a collaborative project with another class I would like to use iMovie. I would like to find a way to not only collaborate with one class but with the entire 6th grade LA department.
    Both Computer Lit. and LA use imovie. Computer Lit. teaches more of the technical aspects of the program while LA uses iMovie to create a presentation related to book or reading material.
    I would like to combine the two as a group to teach iMovie while working with LA to complete one of their projects.

    The content objective is to teach the students the iMovie program while supporting the LA department. This will take some of the load off the LA teachers while using a project the students can get a grade for in both classes.

    I would like to try this next semester.

    The tools we would use is Google Apps for emailing the assignments, Edmodo for discussion and ideas between the class and iMovie for the project. In addition, we can iPhoto to manage and manipulate photos.

    The project would begin by starting a group in Edmodo for this project. The LA teacher would place the students into groups of three making sure that at least one student was taking Computer Lit. This student would be in charge of most of the technical editing in iMovie. In turn the Computer Lit. student would pass what he/she learned to the other one or two students in the group. The assignment would be an LA assignment and that rubric would come from them. The project can be done during Computer Lit. class as part of the iMovie teaching. Also, as a group the students can use the iPads in LA, library and Computer Lit. laptops. By the end of the project the all the 6th grade students will know what is expected when creating a presentation using iMovie and knowledge of how to create it. This would also free up the other grade level science LA teachers for teaching the technical aspects of iMovie, not to mention the Librarian.

  18. Collaboration usually takes place on campus, but with all the new tools available to us, I could certainly see a way that my students could collaborate with another class either in district, out of district or around the country. I could start a Math Buddy project with one of my second grade teacher friends. Pairing either my higher performing students with one of her higher performing students or vice versa, I could use Skype during a certain time of day to have one student teach another (with regrouping, for example). Also, I could partner with another teacher across the country to check in each day to discuss the weather in her region and mind. The only problem is that I don't have a web cam on my computer as of right now!