As you all know several educators and my self began working together on a collaborative teaching community (2ndedliteracy) to share our ideas about teaching literacy across several content areas. During this time we began our first collaborative unit on Literacy, Democracy and Social Change. We all worked together to research as many resources we could find that might assist us in teaching this unit in our content area. I posted many websites exploring political campaign advertisements, political cartoons and art pieces that art teachers may use to analyze and discuss the strategies these types of mediums use to persuade, inform, or provoke the viewer in some way. Later I suggest a unit of art activities that students could engage in while they move through this same unit in their other subject areas such as Math, History and Social Studies. Our big idea was that we could help our students gain multi-literacy skills and grasp difficult concepts like Democracy by having them engage in these concepts in a variety of contexts, giving them multiple ways of accessing knowledge and demonstrating what the know. Teaching in this way, supports multiple intelligences and learning styles while also providing a much needed solution to the limited amount of time we have to teach our crowded classrooms do to budget cuts every year. Through time we believe that if more teachers came together in this way to plan more collaborative lesson plans and units, a community like this would be a terrific resource. (Especially for new teachers) And we can then, all become teachers of literacy!
Starting this community, we decided to do our first Literacy unit on Democracy and Social Change because we felt that teaching social responsibility and literacy are two very relevant skills necessary for the future development of our society. We felt it was important for students to be well informed, active members of society. In the future, our hope is that we can work together with other content teachers to create even more Units and Lessons, while also contributing new and current resources that we can all use. Democracy was just the beginning!
Despite all of the excellent resources and lessons we have shared in this community, we have run into a few problems/complications working on a social networking site such as Live Journal. As we continue we may find better ways to use Live Journal for this community or make use of other sites like Ning. One problem we've run into is learning how to properly set privacy settings so that anyone can access our posts without needing to be a Live Journal member. Secondly we felt that this may not be the most user friendly site for someone who is not a Live Journal user. Thirdly, the layout on Live Journal doesn't really allow you to categorize or organize information very well, so one could get lost scrolling through a continuous list of posts, while getting tossed back and forth from profile to profile. Lastly, we're not sure how many teachers would actually use Live Journal. But its great that Live Journal is a free networking site that can be easily used to create a community, unlike paid site such as Ning. And we like that we can post text, images, web links and video on this site. Aside from technical difficulties, working as a group can always cause some frustration. Since you are working with others, you have to deal with the waiting and hoping for responses, overcoming communication issues, and just being able to cooperate and work well with others to come up with quality lessons and units as a team. Sometimes teachers may not always meet eye to eye. But overall I think that the idea of coming together to teach students in a variety of ways can be very useful and beneficial for education at large.
Special thanks to all of my collaborative teachers who have worked so hard on this site!
- My Current Reflection on Collabrative Teaching