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Miles Apart and Working Together

Sayville students use Web 2.0 tools to explore the Empire State: Then and Now.

“How might teachers spark student interest in research and collaboration?”

Two Sayville elementary teachers, Sharon Donnelly of Sunrise Drive and Kelly Cummings of Cherry Avenue, found a satisfying solution to this question through a unique collaboration. They engaged their respective classes on a shared research project—despite the nearly three miles between their two schools—without leaving their buildings. This was the first time such a joint effort was conducted between schools.

“Our project showed how students from separate elementary schools used Web 2.0 Tools to collaborate on researching famous New York landmarks,” Mrs. Donnelly and Mrs. Cummings explained. “Our students worked together and shared information using Google Docs for their real-time research collaboration and used Skype for face-to-face meetings about their chosen landmarks.”

Teacher Integration Specialist Frank Franzese assisted in bringing the logistics piece together for this project that used district technology, such as the wide area network (WAN) and webcams, as well as web-based distance learning technology, such as Skype and Google Docs, to elevate student learning across our district.

From their respective school computer labs and working in real time, the students at both elementary schools worked on their research documents. Even though both Sunrise Drive students and the Cherry Avenue students had no prior association before they began this project, the students got acquainted during student introductions at the beginning of the Skype video-conferencing sessions that linked each lab.

Through their special connection, using Web 2.0 Tools, the students in both schools created written essays together, describing their landmark’s past and present, conferred and decided upon the most important historical facts. Later, each student found media to represent their conclusions. “We hope that by having the students work with Web 2.0 tools such as Prezi,” Mrs. Cummings added, “they will later use them on their own when they enter the Middle School.”

The results of their research were recently presented in a Prezi Presentation of The Empire State Landmarks at the recent Suffolk 14th Annual ASSET Educational Technology Conference. The presentation which was very well received garnered extremely positive feedback from the Conference attendees.

Video highlights of this project can be found on the Sayville School District web site.
http://sayville.k12.ny.us/webpages/ccore/files/donnelly%20cummings.m4v

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