How to run a unit across multiple schools
Get organized, then get tech
Many of your current — or future — collaborators teach at other schools around the state or world. But when you’ve got a great idea for collaboration, don’t let distance stand in your way. Let’s look at this example from three Vermont schools on how to plan, manage and support one unit run across three different schools.
(Hint: tech helps. A lot.)
“We all carry a story in us. And the stories we carry, they burn.”
Teachers at three different Vermont middle schools set out to create a cross-school experience meant to help their students better understand immigration. Students would be tasked with learning how to sensitively and accurately interview immigrants about their stories, then work to produce documentaries from the interviews. The students would then share and reflect on each other’s documentaries.
A challenging unit for one class to implement, but doing it with three at three different schools?
This was going to take work.
Chris Bologna from Lamoille Union Middle School, Allison Paradee and Peter Nichols from Hazen, and Shaun Noonan from Peoples Academy made the commitment in the summer of 2017 at a Schoology Next conference to co-build the Immigration Migration Project. They knew once back at their respective schools and pulled into the daily routines they would need efficient and effective ways to collaborate virtually.
5 tech tools to keep you organized: Schoology, Trello, Slack, Google Drive & flipgrid
All were inspired that Schoology, the Learning Management System all three schools used provided a platform for exchanging resources and supporting cross-school sharing via discussion threads and media albums. So, they created a Migration Story Project Group to start sharing possible resources to use.
Together, they took a look at a Trello board Chris Bologna created as a launching point for discussion. It also highlighted the basic structure of the unit.
In addition, in order to exchange resources at a distance and discuss their potential uses, they joined a Slack channel.
Eventually they also included a Google Team Drive to share and organize the resources they agreed all use in their respective classrooms.
And finally, all agreed that students would create Flipgrid videos to reflect on their progress and open up another possible avenue for cross-school conversations.
Want to know more about these tools?
Schoology – Learning Management System
Trello – Project Planner
- Supporting Genius Hour in K-12 Classrooms
- Negotiating Curriculum with Trello
Slack – Collaborative Team Work
Google Team Drive – Shared Spaces to Store, Search, and Share Resources
Flipgrid – Reflect, Share, and Respond via Video
Some of the most effective professional development occurs when we intentionally support collaboration and build strong working relationships among teachers. Just as technology has allowed us to open classrooms for students, it can also support teachers’ cross-school collaborations.