From “Sit and Get” to “Collaborate and Elaborate”

Two fourth-grade boys and a fourth-grade girl working togetherThe primary instructional model in use for many years in many classrooms was “sit and get.” In other words, the students sat there while the teacher stood at the front of the classroom lecturing. There are times were such a methodology may be appropriate in small doses. However, today’s world often requires a more connected team approach to problem solving. In such an environment, the students and teacher work together to find solutions to problems and find ways to share and build upon what they are learning. In other words, “sit and get” has been replaced by “collaborate and elaborate.”

In order to successfully collaborate, students will need to know:

  1. The learning target/goal: A clearly articulated goal is necessary to focus the work of all collaborators.
  2. Norms/expectations: A set of classroom-generated norms for the collaboration period will help students to understand their roles and responsibilities within the collaborative structure.
  3. Timeline: A detailed timeline that articulates when the goal is to be met is necessary to keep students focused on the outcome. The timeline should include incremental check-ins throughout to ensure that progress continues.
  4. Product: Students need to know what they are to produce to demonstrate their new knowledge and skills. Show examples to help students more fully understand what is expected.

How are you using collaboration in your classroom? Are student voices heard as an important part of the learning process? Are students encouraged to build on their prior knowledge? Are they encouraged to share what they are learning with others? As you spend time planning for your upcoming classes, consider which activities might benefit from collaborative work. You and your students will be glad you did!


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