Collaborative classroom work doesn’t just happen. It must be carefully planned and implemented. In the article Planning for Great Group Work, author Willona Sloan details seven steps for collaborative student work:
- Build a culture of collaboration: Begin on day one with low-stakes tasks, so that students have the opportunity to practice the skills they will employ later with higher-stakes tasks.
- Build from the end: Stephen Covey reminded people to “begin with the end in mind.” The same holds true for your classroom activities. Make sure you know where you are going, and prepare a clear learning path for your students.
- Build groups with intention: Know your students and place them where they can receive maximum benefit from the learning objectives.
- Build group-worthy tasks: Use open-ended prompts that require higher order thinking for problem solving. Ensure that the content is rigorous and relevant.
- Build in accountability: Employ formative assessments to measure individual progress along the path.
- Build supports for group dynamics: There will be highs and there will be lows. There will be successes and there will be failures. Support students in all stages of the work.
- Build in the mess: Collaboration sometimes creates chaos. Become comfortable with it and help students become comfortable with it.
As you prepare for the upcoming school year, keep these steps in mind. You and your students will benefit greatly!