Asynchronous Online Collaboration

Ross Amstey, English Teacher, &  Michael Fantauzzo, Social Studies Teacher, Rush-Henrietta Senior High.

Wow!  That’s a pretty technical sounding title for what turned out to be a very interesting project that allowed the students in the AP Government and Politics classes to work with students in the AP Language and Composition classes.  It was our goal to measure how motivated and engaged our students could be after they collaborated on a lengthy research project.  Here’s what we did…

Over a 6 week period, students in a 12th grade AP US Government and Politics class and in AP Language worked to create an online blog.  The final product consisted of a position paper written by the AP Lang students using research compiled by the AP Govt classes.  After online publication, students in the AP Government classes read the blogs on the subjects they researched and were directed to give constructive criticism.  The purpose of this work was to introduce student to a new and motivational way to engage in both the research method, and in persuasive writing.  These skills have a direct correlation to the work students complete in the respective classes, and are asked to demonstrate on the respective AP exams.  It was our hope that students found working across curricula and utilizing technology in an integrated and meaningful way bolstered engagement and motivation.

All the students imagined themselves as part of a “think tank.”  The AP Gov’t students investigated and researched some debate topics and presented the AP Lang. students with their documentation.  The Lang. students then read the research, developed arguments, wrote papers, and eventually posted their papers on a blog.

The collaboration didn’t stop there, however, for the Gov. students then commented and critiqued the arguments right on the blog.  This created an opportunity for the Lang. students to see how their work and their ideas were perceived.

It was our hope that the online collaboration would help motivate and engage the students.  Ultimately, despite some technical problems, and the notion that the scenario we created was a bit artificial and contrived, we found that students were indeed engaged in the work and, at worst, found it interesting.  We hope to use our work as the first stepping stone as we develop more cross-curricular activities which embrace the 21st Century skills so vital for our time.

Student Blog:    Our action research report:  Asynchronous Online Collaboration in AP Language/Comp and AP US Government/Politics

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