How Teachers Collaborate Online and in School | Edutopia
Edutopia on Facebook
Edutopia on Twitter
Edutopia on Google+
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Mesquite Elementary School

Grades 3-5 | Tucson, AZ

How Teachers Collaborate Online and in School

The Vail School District in southern Arizona developed a wiki for teachers to share lesson plans and resources. Today, the wiki is a smash hit, and textbooks are a thing of the past.

How Teachers Collaborate Online and in School (Transcript)

Woman 1: There's distribution and--

Woman 2: Do you wanna start on that one first?

Woman 1: Yeah, we'll start on distribution. There's a water cycle website. Check out what the interactive water cycle is.

Computer voice: Water on the earth is constantly on the move. It recycles over and--

Woman 1: This is good.

Woman 3: That's nice. We could do that to introduce it, right, don't you think?

Katie Dabney: Teachers had created this wealth of resources, of lesson plans, of ideas, of different ways to teach different concepts. And we wanted to find a way where we could share those ideas with teachers from across our district, and even teachers from across the state, and hopefully beyond.

Everyone: -- is the most important thing--

Katie Dabney: So the first thing that we did is we calendared our objectives, our state standards. The second thing that we did was, we gave teachers a common plan time.

Kevin Carney: So we said, 'How can we take our process that's proven and make it kinda digitized to make it more efficient?' We took this free open source product called MindTouch and we created a collaborative Wiki.

Katie Dabney: We created what we call Beyond Textbooks, and it's an internet application where teachers can take those wonderful ideas and they can post it on a Wiki page that is dedicated to that concept and that content area.

Sarah Bates: Beyond Textbooks really helps for prep. During the week, it's my first go to thing. I know that there's always gonna be something I can depend on on there.

Woman 4: We could probably-- maybe we could white out.

Sarah Bates: Yeah, perfect.

Woman 4: And have them fill it in as they're watching.

Sarah Bates: And define it too, I'm thinking.

Kevin Carney: Not only are we able to use that for our own teachers in our districts, so that they have a central repository they can go to to find all these teacher resources, but now we've been able to allow other school districts to tap into it.

Sarah Bates: A lot of the kids will say, 'Miss Bates, did you create that? That's so cool.' And, you know, I'll have to say, 'Another teacher at another school made this. Isn't this so neat? You know, there's other kids who are able to look at this too. Other kids are learning the same thing that you are.' And then they feel a sense of connectedness to other students at our school district.

Crystal Deryke: Oh my goodness, boys and girls.

Kirsten Knox: Now they have more posts than they ever dreamed they would have. And now with all these schools joining, we're getting lots of new information from outside of the district that we've never had before.

Kevin Carney: Teaching is such an isolated endeavor. We want-- we don't want you alone on an island. We wanna let you know there's other folks out there that you can collaborate with and discuss things with and help each other, so that you can help each others' students.

Get Video
Embed Code Embed Help

You are welcome to embed this video, download it for personal use, or use it in a presentation for a conference, class, workshop, or free online course, so long as a prominent credit or link back to Edutopia is included. If you'd like more detailed information about Edutopia's allowed usages, please see the Licenses section of our Terms of Use.


Video Credits


  • Zachary Fink


  • Mariko Nobori


  • Daniel Jarvis

Associate Producer

  • Doug Keely


  • Cameron Trejo
  • Zachary Fink

Production Assistant and Audio

  • Jason Canfield

Video Programming Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Executive Producer

  • David Markus

Comments (3)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

blog Technology Summer Camp

Last comment 12 hours 48 min ago in Professional Development

Discussion The Hardest to Love Need Us Most: Lessons from Man of La Mancha

Last comment 1 day 18 hours ago in Teacher Development

Discussion DIY: 3 Reasons Why It's Better than Rescue-by-Google

Last comment 18 hours 29 min ago in Lesson Plans

Discussion Honoring New Teachers

Last comment 10 hours 17 min ago in New Teachers

blog School Leaders: Tips for Coaching Your Super Teachers

Last comment 1 month 2 weeks ago in School Leadership

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.