opportunities for students and teachers to exchange social studies ideas,
to have access to other middle school classrooms, to learn from multiple
perspectives, and to utilize technology to create relationships. It
is through dialogue and interaction without worrying about geographic
barriers that curriculum standards and objectives can be activated.
Our telecollaborative experience reflects the “Teaching, Learning,
and Curriculum” strand of The National Educational Technology
Standards for Teachers (NETS), which includes the following:
Teachers must facilitate
technology-enhanced experiences that address content standards and
student technology standards.
Teachers must use technology
to support learner-centered strategies that address the diverse
needs of students.
Teachers must apply
technology to develop students' higher order skills and creativity.
Teachers must manage
student learning activities in a technology-enhanced environment.
The NETS for teachers can
be found at: http://cnets.iste.org/teachers/t_stands.html.
Our telecollaborative experience
also reflects the content standards of the National Council for the
Social Studies (NCSS). The study of people, places, and their environment,
the third of the NCSS curriculum strands, encourages students to create
personal, spatial, and geographic connections beyond their own classroom.
The NCSS standards in their entirety can be found at the following address:
Design of the Program
Collaborating with colleagues
in middle school can be difficult due to the scheduling and isolation
by content area. Therefore, we recommend an alternative where teaching
and collaborating can occur simultaneously during the regular school
day. Team teaching through video-conferencing and electronic mail do
not require complex technology skills. However, a willingness to try
The following approach can help open your classroom door to the world
beyond the schoolhouse walls. This program consists of four parts: finding
a partner, developing an electronic-pal protocol, deciding on telecommunication
hook-up dates and content, and reflecting on these processes and activities.
The first step is to find
a partner. Table 1.1, Sample Middle School Letter for Telecollaboration
Partner Search, offers a sample middle school letter for your telecollaboration
partner search. The following are areas for consideration during the
telecollaborative partner search: finding a partner, verifying philosophies,
scheduling teleconferences, and checking video conferencing equipment.
Finding a partner
Post a letter on a professional
organization website or an appropriate listserv such as the classified
section of E-pal.com http://www.epals.com/tools/forum/forum.e?bo=67&at=db.
Think about asking a
friend or colleague who teaches middle school social studies in
Consider utilizing an
upcoming state or national conference to locate a telecollaborative
Corroborate team teaching
Confirm social studies
Discuss viewpoints about
Check for time zone
Take into consideration
to one hour or one class period.
Checking video conferencing
Test equipment compatibility.
Confirm Internet Protocol
(IP) addresses the day before each telecollaboration.
Ten to 15 minutes prior
to the telecollaboration hook-up, connect with the partner class
to check the sound.
Sample Middle School Letter for Telecollaboration Partner
I am a middle school social studies teacher. I am constantly
searching for ways to enhance my social studies class with technology.
Are you interested in telecollaborative activities? Do you have
video conferencing technologies at your middle school? Are you
teaching social studies during one of the time periods listed?
Please look at my class schedule below. I teach 7th grade US History
(general and honors). On the average, I have 25 students per class
period. During the semester, I would like to begin with e-pals,
interactive websites, and monthly telecollaborative meetings,
in the hopes of expanding to weekly telecollaborative meetings
in the future.
Please contact me if you are interested.
US History Middle School Teacher
My schedule: 7th grade Social Studies