Literature Review

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There are quite a few projects that are similar to the one that I have planned; however, these projects did not have all of the aspects of a telecollaborative project that I desired. They are not terrible projects, but they just did not meet the requirements of my curriculum or the age level of my students.

1.   Celebrate! Holidays and Festivals Around the World

        I am very impressed by the magnitude of this ePals project! It looks at holidays and other celebrations around the world. There are a list of questions provided (some similar to my own), but the main goal of the project is to look at the symbols in our culture that stem from various holidays and celebrations. The project is similar to mine in that it pairs classrooms and small groups to do research and share information. The project is also billed for individual classrooms as well. The project meets my need to organize because all of the project questions, steps and activities, handouts, evaluations, and rubrics are included on the website without even having to join the project. Since the project is on ePals, it also has open student and teacher forums where the students and teachers can communicate and ask questions.

        There are a few aspects of the project that do not meet the requirements that I have created for my students. Many of the participants are elementary school age children, and I would like for my students to have another high school class with which to participate. Also, I am limiting my project to finding a class in Mexico that would be willing to participate because some of the holidays that my students are required to research are only celebrated in Mexico and Central America. We have connections in the county and my school to other schools in Mexico, so the project could already have a trial period without having to post the project. If I had to choose a project in which to participate, this would be the one! I chose to plan a project though because I wanted a project that met all of the requirements of our curriculum and that would also flow well in our school year.

2.   Multi Cultural Calendar

        This telecollaborative project from Kidlink was created in 1994. Although the project seems extensive, it appears that you can no longer join this project. It may be that you have to join Kidlink as a member before you can join a project, but I did not want to pay to find out. The organization claims there is no cost to participate yet there is a membership fee!

        From what I can tell in regards to the Multi Cultural Calendar project, teachers are supposed to submit standards in order to participate. However, it appears that students are simply posting on one holiday and including information such as historical background, holiday significance, recipes, and other cultural context. There is a submission of material, but no exchange of information. I want my students to not only complete research but also share information and receive new information. There is also no way to practice the target language; it could be suggested, but it is not offered as an option.

        Kidlink also appears to target younger students. While this is still a valuable telecollaborative project, it does not meet the goal of my intended project. If it really is still running, I would recommend that this project be used by older elementary school or early middle school students. It could be used in language arts, social studies, or reading classes.

3. North and Central American Facebook Friends

        This project has been put together by the Global SchoolNetwork Foundation, and if I chose a different scope for my project, I would not mind participating in this either! Basically, students will connect to each others' classrooms via Facebook. They will respond to questions about each others' lives and how living in various areas of the world changes how they live. While the project is not specifically geared towards holidays, it is one aspect of the project. It is an option to have my project grow beyond holidays if this project goes well. I like that the project is recent, uses modern technology, and allows students to interact with students beyond the county in which they live.

        The project will be private and will only include those classrooms which have been verified through the school district. It appears that the project coordinator has planned the project very well and is making security a huge priority. Although she has chosen to include 15-20 classes for her first year with the project, the scope of the project seems manageable with this larger number. This is the first school year for the project, so I would be very interested to see the outcome.

        There are many downsides of this project for my students, however. The greatest problem for me is that our county does not allow access to Facebook, so we could not even choose to participate! Also, the project is geared towards middle school aged students so mine would not be permitted to participate.

4. Global Holiday Card Exchange

        The popular site, iEARN, has opened a project in the last 4 years that allows students to design and exchange holiday cards (through the mail!) for all different types of new year and winter holidays. While the project is simplistic in nature, it would still open the doors for numerous conversations and comparisons. The project has grown considerably and includes more than 200 classes in 30 countries! Sometimes simple is better, and that is evident in the popularity of this telecollaborative project.

        The project is organized into groups of schools that exchange cards instead of all of the classes together. There is not much information given about the project on the initial page, but there is a cute video that shows the project in action and a link to a page with more information. It appears that anyone can participate the following school year, and there are multiple age groups listed in which to participate. My students could actually participate in this project!

        Although this project deals with holidays, it does not support the intended purpose of my own project. I would consider joining this project if I did not start my own right away. This would be a simple project in which to involve my students, promote discussion, and learn about other cultures without having to spearhead my own project. I am seriously considering this one for next year since I am a bit nervous about leading my own telecollaborative project without having participated in one first.

5. Special One Day in the Life Project

        This project is also sponsored by iEARN. The purpose of this project is for students to document one day in their lives using multimedia elements. Although there is no set time period for this project, the project does offer special days that students are encouraged to film and share. Other students and teachers can comment on the media that is posted, and many students share multitudes of cultural experiences.

        The goal of this telecollaborative project is to promote cultural awareness just as I hope to do in my own project. Although it is vast in its options for posting, and my project is more specific, this project would even be a great extra credit opportunity to offer to the students. Like the Facebook Friends project, I like that this project also promotes use of more modern technology (unlike the holiday card exchange).

        There is also a great info page for this project as well where I discovered that my students could also participate in this one because of the various age ranges. This project is so flexible that anyone can participate from anywhere. On the photo diaries page I saw projects from Iran, Morocco and many other countries! The project creator is from Argentina and has some students speaking Spanish and English together. Although the holiday portion of my project does not necessarily match up with this project (but it could!), the multicultural and multilingual aspects definitely do. 

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Picture Citations


Sanchez Bueno, Mario. reyes_magos.jpg. January 2007. Flickr 18 Dec 2010

All other Pictures:

Carmichael Library. DayoftheDeaddisplay.jpg November 2009. Flickr. 18 Dec 2010

Cliff1066. Losreyesmagos.jpg March 2009 Flickr 18 Dec 2010

Garlandcannon. Cincodemayocelebration.jpg May 2010 Flickr 18 Dec 2010

Guerrero, F.E. FoolsDay.jpg December 2009 Flicrk 19 Dec 2010

Kyla-UK. HCS.jpg October 2010 Flickr 19 Dec 2010

Martinez, C.A. UrbanLandscape.jpg February 2010 Flickr 19 Dec 2010

Roventine, M. 91/365.jpg April 2009. Flickr 19 Dec 2010

Travlinman43. Happy4thofJuly.jpg June 2007 Flickr 18 Dec 2010

WxMom. Candy Corn, PG#24.jpg October 2007. Flicker 18 Dec 2010