This is one area where I wish that had done a little better and I plan on making this a goal of mine next year. I will be honest and say that it was hard for me to find partners to work collaboratively with. It seems like I never knew what other teachers in my building were working on; however, my school is transitioning into an IB school and one of our requirements will be to work more collaboratively and complete more interdisciplinary projects.
We are actually creating a large bulletin board in the copying room where teachers will post what topics they are covering which will make it much easier to find out where we can work together to create a deeper understanding of the concepts being covered. I believe that if students are exposed to interdisciplinary learning then they will take their education more seriously and it will be more meaningful. It will no longer be just a Math concept, or a Science concept, or a Communications topic; instead it will now be an opportunity to make meaning of what they are learning throughout all the content areas.
Also, it will allow our students to be more focused on what they are learning which will lead to a better understanding. I feel like our students are being thrown new material in all of their classes almost every day and in part this leads to more confusion because they are never sure what to expect when they enter the classroom.
As for my collaborative project this year, I worked with another algebra teacher in my building. We ran into a lot of obstacles though. We were trying to have our students take more ownership over their learning so the plan was to have the students create their own problems about the concepts we were covering. They would post them in the blog and then have the other class solve them and discuss if the problem was created well, if there was any information missing from the problem, as well as rank the difficulty level of the problem (from easy to extremely difficult). Lastly, the kids would that created the problem would have to grade the other students work.
Well in theory this seemed to be a great idea; however, when we were implementing it we ran into a lot of problems. First the other teacher only had half the amount of time with her kids as I did (we were on a block schedule and she was working with periods) and every time that she was going to have her kids work on the computers something came up. One time she couldn't get the internet connected, another time when she finally got the kids on the computer they didn't have email addresses so they couldn't post, a different time she couldn't even use the computers because the school was MAP testing and all the computers were reserved. It just seemed like we were running into problem after problem with the computers and we were losing a lot of teaching time so what switched up the plan. What we ended up doing was the kids would exchange problems on paper, solve them, reflect on them and then return them to the other class to have them graded. It was literally more leg work for us, but in the end I felt like it did give the kids more ownership over their learning. I saw them take their learning more seriously and they were more excited to solve problems created by their peers rather than just solving problems that I gave them.
I plan on working more collaboratively with my fellow educators next year, both within and outside of my content area, and I am thankful for the technology/resources that we have because I believe it will make it much easier!