Teacher Feature: Global Collaboration Project & Spark

What do collaboration, personal narratives, and videos all have in common? Adobe Spark! This year, Issaquah Technology Program (ITP) participants were asked to work on the Global Collaboration standard by pairing up in elementary/secondary teams. I had the pleasure of seeing parts of this collaborative effort in Erin Kwok’s 6th grade Digital Photography class (PCMS) and Paula Casey’s 3rd-grade class (Challenger Elementary).

One indicator of the ISTE Global Collaborator standard is for students to contribute to a project or team taking on a specific role in order to work towards a common goal (7c). In this collaboration, Ms. Casey’s students are the writers and Ms. Kwok’s students are the digital creators. 

Students writing for a project

Students work on a similar writing process to the personal narrative they completed for the Global Collaboration project.

The project started with Ms. Casey’s 3rd-grade class writing their stories. Students worked on adding story details and elaboration. As Ms. Casey states, “Students learned how to narrow down a moment in time. They learned the difference between newspaper reporting and storytelling.  They demonstrated this by adding feelings and descriptions so the reader would feel and see it in a way it really happened.”

I was able to watch some of their process of adding, then adding more to develop a story that shows rather than tells. Here the students work on a similar story-writing process.

Students writing for a project

Students share their work with the class once they have added their elaborate details.

The next step in this Global Collaboration process was for the 3rd-graders to share their stories with Ms. Kwok’s 6th-grade students. Ms. Casey shared how the students did not meet with their 6th-grade counterpart and how it worked out well. “I wanted my kids to see how their writing affects readers.  If they don’t write it exactly how they want it visualized ( with lots of details)  then the reader (6th grader) may not visualize it how the author intended. This was  a great, real-life experience to learning how to write well.”

Ms. Casey and Ms. Kwok are considering ways for their students to give and receive feedback during this collaboration. They have discussed Zoom or Skype conferences and even SeeSaw to reflect on their process. Ms. Casey anticipates that in future projects there might be more front-loaded collaboration. She explained, “in future projects, I would prefer there to be a rough draft process in the illustration/photos portion like we do in the writing process.   The 6th graders could send a rough version of how they visualize the writing portion.  The 3rd graders would then see if they have to edit their work to add more descriptions etc to get the photos actually depicting the story the way they intended.”

As the collaboration was handed over to the 6th-graders, they began the work of breaking the story down into manageable parts with a distinct picture in mind. This would lead to the photos they would take for the digital representation of the 3rd-grader’s story. Ms. Kwok explained why she chose Spark for this collaborative project. “I learned about Adobe Spark this past summer at ITP and instantly liked it. Since the 3rd-graders were telling a story, I wanted 6th-graders to create a video…we needed something that I could control privacy and not require them to sign up. I also wanted something that was simple enough for the 6th-graders to create – the focus of the class is taking pictures, so I didn’t want to introduce really complicated programs.”

Students reading and highlighting

Ms. Kwok’s 6th-graders work on identifying key details of Ms. Casey’s 3rd-grade students’ stories.

Their next step was taking the photos, a fun process that required props, models, and setting the stage to capture the ideas of their assigned story. 

Students taking photos

Taking creative photos and capturing moments from a story.

The final step in this collaboration was to create a digital story using Adobe Spark. Students upload the photos they took and create a video using Spark. They were able to add voice-over to read the story and finalize the digital story. Ms. Kwok explains how she allows her students to work with Spark since they are not 13-years-old, which is an Adobe requirement. She shares, “At the beginning of the trimester, every child has their parent sign a form that acknowledges their consent to use digital applications – which follows the GDPR, and says that guardians need to give consent for minors under 13.  I have a login and password that I created for student use (I also have my own personal one, so I don’t put my things on there). We also talked about how it is important to only be in your own project since they have complete access to every single one.”

Students using computers

Starting the final step in creating the final digital story in Adobe Spark.

This was a fun way to bring two classroom communities together as global collaborators using their creativity. I am sure Ms. Casey’s 3rd-graders are looking forward to seeing the final product the 6th-graders complete. So, whether it is a Global Collaboration project or your own curiosity, if using a digital tool like Adobe Spark is in your future, take advice from Ms. Kwok, “Play around with it! Create silly videos or memes. It’s very simple and student-friendly.” 

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