Developing Expert Voices ... Playing With Boundaries

2/01/2007 10:29:00 pm

Finite players play within boudaries. Infinite players play with boundaries.

Building on my previous post, I've been thinking about ...

  • » Clarence's work with the atelier method of teaching and how he sees himself as a network administrator.
  • » George had mentioned the work of John Seely Brown at dinner last week. So I listened to this podcast.
  • » I have mentors for my students (Lani and Emina) but I'd like to develop mentorship amongst my students. I believe they learn deeper when they have to mentor someone.
  • » The Flat Classroom Project. Julie and Vicki have posted the podcast they did with Terry, Jeff, Jo and I. They are thinking hard about how to make the project replicable, scalable and sustainable.
  • » Chris left a comment on my earlier post to which I replied saying we could make this work across grade levels.
  • » A while back, Robert Jones' kids from Scotland were leaving comments on my kid's blog and my students reciprocated. Robert and I talked about collaborating but one thing led to another and we didn't follow up on it.

In order to move the Developing Expert Voices assignment beyond my classroom walls I don't need another class of students. Each of my students needs at least one partner in another class somewhere. If there is a critical mass of teachers on board with this idea then, between us, we work the network to find partners for each of our kids. So, in one of my classes, my students might collectively be collaborating with 10 or more classes from all over the world. Moreover, partners do not need to be in the same grade or studying the same material; as their network administrators we align the curricular content along thematic lines.

For example, let's say a grade 7 student (12 years old) partners up with a grade 10 student (15 years old). The topic is operations (add, subtract, multiply, divide) on rationals (fractions). The grade 7 student develops content using integers. The grade 10 student does exactly all the same thing using algebraic expressions. Together, they put together a presentation that is published online using free tools and aggregated on a blog somewhere.

Working with other students from elsewhere and publishing their work online for a global audience motivates kids to learn hard; to do their best work and make certain it is error free. The older student may know more math, the younger student may know more technology tools. (At least, this is what some of my students tell me.) The kids make curricular connections across grade levels and the mentorship experience grows both kids in ways beyond just learning the math.

The boundaries between classrooms blur.

The boundaries between teachers blur.

The boundaries between grades blur.

The boundaries between students blur.

Learning crystallizes.

Any takers?

Update - February 2, 2007
Just built a wiki to help organize this over at wikispaces. If you're serious about participating add yourself to the list. ;-)

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  1. OK, Darren. I am interested in a similar approach -- pairing my classes with a divergent group of students depending on their interests. So, count me in with my classes and we can see how this works -- perhaps among 10-15 classes we can pair students up in appropriate methods. I'd like my Flat Classrooms students to do this and publish their experiences/ recommendations for collaboration -- this would be the next step for them. Let's talk more!

  2. I'm interested. I have 5 classes of Web Design 2 students. Grades 9-12, all levels of students.

  3. Anonymous3/2/07 10:47

    Hi Darren. I'm sure I was the guilty party in the petering out of our ideas to collaborate at the end of last year! I think I said I'd talk to Craig in my department, who works with a class closer to the age of your students. I'll get on the case on Monday :)

  4. Darren, another challenge that further promotes collaboration and flat classroom ideals! I have posted on my blog about this. I love these new ideas and your enthusiasm. Thanks Darren.