While over the years we have been successful in finding partners to share our math story problems with, I was always nervous that the project wasn't allowing me to discover as many collaborators. My fear was that while I was giving someone a project to do, I wasn't meeting another teacher half way and collaborating on how to make it a meaningful project for each side.
Excited about the responses I got on Edmodo and Twitter this year for the project (Although these don't always work out), I had the boys begin the creation of the 2014-2015 wor(l)d problems before being in touch with Parul from the American School Foundation of Monterrey. Parul and I were introduced by Jennifer Klein of World Leadership School and within days of our introduction we skyped.
Parul was excited to collaborate on the project with her 7th graders as she felt that their was a true need for her students to practice more word problems. However, she really wanted to make sure that they students got more out of it then just problem solving. She felt strongly that we needed deeper engagement and we began to brainstorm. Parul suggested a skype call to start the conversation and immediately I agreed with a "yes and... can we do a mystery skype to get the students excited about doing word problems about the other location?". In full agreement we set forth a schedule for the coming weeks/month.
While the mystery skype call had to be put off due to service days and vacations, we successfully scheduled two mystery skype calls, with two of our classes, for last Friday. Funny enough, we had planned to have all my boys do this during snack break but we hadn't considered day light savings time and the fact that San Francisco does spring forward, but that Monterrey does not. We were able to successfully figure out a solution-thank goodness! Flexibility continues to be a major component to the success of my global partnerships.
In true Goggin fashion I wanted to organize the boys for questions and answers, but Parul suggested we keep it a little more "loose" and allow the students to engage in a way that works for them. While it went against my instincts I accepted this idea, gave the boys a few specific roles (journalist, mappers etc...) for the call and monitored from within.
The students from Mexico were able to figure out that we were from San Francisco during both calls, but my students struggled to locate the exact city in one of the sections. This is not surprising, they are likely less familiar with Mexico's cities and towns then the students from Mexico are about California cities.
The students are currently working on completing each other's word problems (Mexico and San Francisco) and the hope is that during this process the students come up with questions for their new friends. We hope to Skype in late April/May and discover more about one another's schools, cultures and cities. I am so glad that we collaborated on this project together as I am quite certain that working together and bringing together different ideas and perspectives will give this project more value to all.