A Cultural Collaborative Unit, Part 3: Facilitating the Unit
Before we get started on the final installment of this 3-part series. To recap Part 2, we covered:
1) Choosing a means of communication (Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype)
2) Choosing additional web-based software to ask students questions
Now that we've reviewed, lets dive into Part 3!
Facilitating the Unit
You have planned your unit and chosen the technology tools you plan to use. Now it's time to facilitate the unit! Here are the steps I took to do just that:
1) Prepare your class ahead of time. Each week, students from both schools analyzed a trending current event in order to talk about it during the meeting. Most weeks, I had my students choose the topic they wanted to discuss. After they chose the topic, we would have a group discussion about said topic to make sure we were fully informed. I suggest plan to facilitate each lesson on a Wednesday or Thursday, as it gives you ample time to prepare students for the weekly topic.
2) Have all web-based tools ready to go. Before you begin, be sure to open up all your technology tools. I usually open up each tool (Google Hangouts, PearDeck, PollEV, etc.) in a new tab on my Chrome browser, prior to the lesson.
3) Prepare your classroom. After you situate your web-camera, make sure students are situated so they are all on camera. If at all possible, keep some light(s) on in your room so the other class can see your students. Also, you may want to have students walk closer to the camera when they talk.
4) Make the call. After you have prepared your class, it is time to make the call using your tool of choice (Google Hangouts, in my case). Before you get to this step, you already should have talked with your cooperating teacher at the other school to make sure they will be prepared to take your call at an agreed upon time.
5) Facilitate learning. Once the classrooms are connected, I usually start out by introducing the lesson topic for the day. After that, I ask a student to talk about the topic, covering the key points. Once the student finishes talking about it, I will prompt other students to share their opinions on the topic, or to ask a question of their peers from the other school.
Once the initial discussion ends, I usually share a website for students to login and answer questions about the topic that I have created beforehand. I used PearDeck to ask questions, but you can also use PollEV, Go Soap Box, or other tools. Google Hangouts allows me to share my screen with students from both schools. This is handy because I can project students' answers on the screen in real time. My questions tend to ask for students' opinion on key points or controversial aspects of the topic. After students answer the question(s), I allow a for a few minutes to talk about each others responses and ask final questions of each other. Take a look at the following YouTube video to see me facilitate a lesson in my classroom.