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Why we should be merging classrooms and how to do it!

We as teachers are having students that are making AMAZING things. I have seen students create videos, websites, blogs, infographs, games, and SO much more. But there is still something missing with our classroom, our lesson plans, and we need to take it one step further. No one is seeing our student’s amazing work except our student’s (and sometimes a parent or two). I would love to think that if NO one saw what I made that I would still make it, but I think I would be a bit discouraged. Do we really expect our student’s to continue to spend hours making and creating without the incentive that anyone will see it. We live in an age where it is very EASY to connect our students with other students that may be completing the same assignment, can provide feedback, advice, and encouragement. Why don’t we do it? How do we do it? Let’s chat because as you may see, this is my new favorite thing to discuss.

The first thing that teachers may think is how do I protect the privacy of my students and still connect them with others?

Aw, you are such a good teacher considering their privacy. Way to practice great digital citizenship. Now you can go about this a variety of ways. Have your students change their privacy settings to access only if the person has the link, and then just provide the links to your students stuff to a teacher you have decided to merge with. If you are on Google, you can do this by clicking Share and changing the settings to View with Link. If you are on Youtube or Blogger, it’s still possible to do this. Let me know if you need help with this. Now if your students are junior high and high school, and your district is fine with allowing students to post things online, then allow them to create a digital portfolio and show off. Use Google Sites, Weebly, WordPress, their own Youtube Channel ANYWHERE that allows for Comments and a quick share of a link or a Google Search.

What is this “merging” classrooms business you are talking about?!

Wouldn’t school be amazing if you didn’t just live in a classroom and learn about everything sheltered in that room?! What if you interacted with other students, in other grades, in other areas of the country and learned together. Shouldn’t that be how we allow our students to learn? YES, it will be a lot of work for the teacher. I’m not telling you it will be easy to find classrooms and plan together with other teachers. But won’t it be worth it?

CLASS MERGE

We HAVE to ensure that our students work is seen, discussed, and given feedback on. We know that our students will put more effort in if we can give them the incentive to do so.

Imagine your student’s face when they see people they do not know comment and discuss with them what they are learning. Imagine the digital citizenship teaching possibilities. Imagine what they will do when they have their own learning community online with people across the country. I want you to see the potential, it could be huge. 

Okay, so how do I find teachers that are willing?

This is where this gets difficult. I would LOVE to say there is one website you can go to and you can find a teacher who is willing to merge with you today (I really really want to make one of these, but for now lets stick with what we have). Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. So here are the resources I have found..

  1. Quadblogging: If you are looking to blog with three other classrooms, head to quadblogging and they will match ya up!
  2. Google+: If you frequent Google+ this community, Connected Classrooms Workshop is a place you can post what you are trying to merge on and hopefully find other classrooms willing to do the same. You will just have to message anyone that responds to you or look through the board. Unfortunately and fortunately, 22,000 members doesn’t always make it easy.
  3. Twitter: I have found SO many teacher friends on Twitter from all over the place. BUT, I want to make this an EASY process for you. SO, if you want to merge with a classroom and you are looking to connect throw out this hashtag: #classmerge. Then, anyone searching for a class to merge with on an assignment can EASILY find you. Also, to make your life even EASIER, you can find some amazing Hyperdocs you may want to merge on by adding @TsGiveTs.

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Let me know what ideas you have for merging and how you plan to find teachers willing to merge. Yay for wonderful classrooms and authentic fun!