Edtech webinar February 2023
Student collaboration in the classroom is important and often thought of as big group projects, but that’s not necessarily the case. Collaborative learning can happen over the course of one minute, one month, one semester, or anything in between.
This month’s webinar addresses:
- What is student collaboration?
- Benefits of student collaboration
- Examples of collaborative learning
- Steps for implementing collaborative learning your classroom
- Applications for classroom collaboration
- Collaboration roles for teachers
- Download webinar slide deck
Read the transcript below:
Hi everyone. Thank you for joining us for today’s webinar. My name is Augustina Bosio and I’m with EdTech Solutions, and this month we’re going to be focusing on boosting student collaboration and how to make it a part of your classroom every day. As always, I’m joined by two former teachers, Angel and Jessica, and we’ll make sure to have our videos turned off during the training to minimize distractions. Let’s get started.
So for today, we’re going to be talking about what student collaboration is, benefits of student collaboration, examples of collaborative learning, steps for implementing collaborative learning in your classroom, some applications for classroom collaboration that you can use, the roles that you as the teacher can take in the collaboration and some useful resources.
What is student collaboration?
It’s the practice of students joining together to examine a concept, answer a question, or explore a topic. Collaborative learning does not always mean group project, and it can happen over the course of one minute, one month, one semester, or anything in between.
Benefits of student collaboration
One benefit is that it encourages and builds social skills and peer relationships, so students get to interact with peers and work together as a team when collaborating or even just doing like a simple partner work, they will build their social skills such as active listening, respect, and empathy while working together.
Another benefit is it builds leadership skills. So while working together, students have to learn to manage their own work and each other’s work as a team. Therefore, they can gain some responsibility of leading their team or themselves or each other to their goal that they’re trying to reach or when they finish their project or just their simple partner work.
Some continued benefits. It improves communication skills, so students have to practice good communication skills in order to work as a team and get their work done in an efficient manner. So when working together, they need to make sure that they’re communicating and actively listening to each other so that they can reach their goal and work together in a timely, effective manner.
It also encourages engagements. Successful collaboration requires all students to be a part of discussions and work, meaning every student should be fully engaged in what they’re working on and how to reach their goal.
Another benefit is it provides a wider range of knowledge, so working together with others allows students to share their thoughts and ideas that one student may not have thought of. Therefore, students get to see things differently and share their knowledge with each other. So for example, if a student is working on something on their own, they can really only have a limited number of ideas, but if they’re working with others or another partner, then they can share ideas and they’re going to widen their range of knowledge.
And lastly, it develops critical thinking skills. Students will have to join together to use their critical thinking skills to solve any issues that may arise and find solutions when necessary. Overall, students will need to use critical thinking when solving problems, brainstorming and evaluating results with their team or partner.
Examples of collaborative learning
So there are many examples for collaborative learning, but I’ve taken a few here that we can go over. The first is think, pair, share or write, pair, share. During your lessons, there are going to be opportunities for you as a class to evaluate what you’ve just gone over. The students will then work in stages to be able to evaluate their responses to that.
First, they’ll do that individually, so you’ll just instruct them to take a few moments to sit and think about what they would like to share with their partner and write that down or just jot some notes down.
Second, they’ll either pair up with somebody or you’ll have a designated small group. Sometimes in classrooms we call those your shoulder buddy, or we have just like A, B, C, D, and they’ll turn to speak with their partners and share those thoughts with each other and have a small discussion regarding that.
Next, their responses are shared with the entire class, so you’ll take turns allowing each of those groups to share their thoughts on what they just learned. Also, that allows for bringing up any questions that they might have or even having questions about what somebody else might have thought and being able to gain further clarity on the subject.
Next is fishbowl. So you would split your students into groups of three and assign them roles. One would be the proponent or somebody that is arguing on the side of the topic. One is the opponent. So they would try to think of questions or an opposing view to whatever the topic is, and then the third person would then take notes on what each of them are stating, and then choose which one would’ve won the debate.
After doing that, you could then take turns with the next section that you’re going over. Then we have catch up. For that you would use any appropriate transitional time in your lesson. Have those students go into small groups and come up with any questions that they might have to help each other clarify the topic, and then you’d open up the classroom to those questions.
Steps for implementing collaborative learning in the classroom
First off, you could make sure to start with a clear goal and expectations. So just making sure that the students fully understand what they’re supposed to be doing. Next, consider who and how many will be in a group, even if it is just a really quick think, pair, share. And it’s important to just decide if you want it to be just with their partner or with the group around them making sure to seat students in a way where they’re going to work with somebody who is not going to be distracting or they’re not going to just mess around, they’re going to work effectively. That goes with larger collaborative projects. Just making sure you pay close attention to how many you think should be in the group and if they’re going to work well together.
Next is set the rules of communication, collaboration, and engagement. Setting up these procedures and rules can result in a more beneficial group or partner time, just making sure that they know how to communicate and how to work together and making sure they are engaged and on task.
Next is possibly assign roles or have the students assign them themselves. Roles aren’t always needed. However, it can make things more organized and it can allow students to work with their strengths. So if a student has really strong leadership skills, kind of making them leader of the group, and if someone has more strengths working with their hands, just making sure that they’re kind of the one that’s building whatever and someone who has better communication skills, making sure they’re the ones that are communicating in the way that the whole group can benefit. But again, assigning roles isn’t always a must. If it’s just a quick thing, roles don’t necessarily need to happen or they can just all work together without any roles.
Next would be you give them the appropriate time to work. So just making sure it’s not too much time where the students are sitting around at the end when they’re done, but just enough time to where they do actually have time to finish. It is recommended that quick finishers maybe having something for them to do afterwards so that they’re not just sitting and that they’re still engaged in something, maybe something that will challenge them a little bit more is always an awesome thing to have.
Next is to monitor the group. So as a teacher, we should always be making sure that our students are on task and engaged and working hard.
And then lastly, just provide time to present and or reflect. So either if it is some big group project that can present it to the class or that think, pair, share, they present at the end to the whole class. And then obviously letting them reflect on what they’ve done. So that can be in writing or again in presenting.
Applications for classroom collaboration
There are a lot of apps available for classroom collaboration. I’ve got a list here on the left of 15. I didn’t want to go over all of them with you today, but here are some that are very commonly used in the classroom.
So pear deck is used for interactive presentations. It’s got a lot of features that you can add and help to gain attention of your audience.
Flipgrid can be used by teachers to get their classroom discussing things while using technology. It’s actually really fun. So the teacher would create a grid of topics and the students would choose the topic if you’re going to have a lot of them available, or you can assign a topic per week. But once the students click on that topic, they then would create a short video that is relevant to what that topic is. Say you choose an animal and your students are…are you a cat person or a dog person? Then your students can choose either cat video or dog video and then explain why they love cats or why they love dogs, just as an example.
Padlet is a lot like Pinterest for classrooms. The students can post images, videos, documents, and texts to their board, so it looks a lot like a bulletin board, and then they can put all of their information in one spot that way it’s easy for them to organize all of their research and then they can share that with the classroom.
Nearpod allows you to have interactive lessons that you can create, quizzes, polls, videos, images, drawing boards, web content. So if you’re using it for a quiz, your students would then go into that quiz and it would automatically collect those students’ answers and show the results. Yes, this many people chose this answer and they were correct.
Seesaw is for students to show what they know. So they’ll use their photos, videos, drawings, text PDFs and links, and then create something. So they are showing what they collected and learned. So it’s a lot like Padlet, but it’s arranged a little bit differently.
Collaboration roles for teachers
So there are a few collaboration roles that the teachers can take in the classroom, and it’s important to decide what role you would like to take on during the collaboration.
So the first one is the neutral observer. In this role, you don’t lead the discussions at all and you don’t focus on the outcome. You kind of let the students take initiative of their own learning and of the actual conversation and collaboration that they’re doing.
Then you have the objective facilitator. So in this one, it’s very factual. You’re summarizing the points being discussed. You may want to set some time limits and call out any tangents. So if students are starting to talk about anything that doesn’t actually relate to the topic or you want to give students two minutes to talk about the topic that they’re focusing on, then you can do that, and you should be recording the discussion in a visual way. So either on a post-it note, in a notebook, on a whiteboard, on a computer, whatever it may be, so that students don’t have to focus on the actual recording of it and they can look back on it when they need to.
The last one is actually being an active participant. So you’re acting as though you’re one of the students. I really like this one because it allows you to say your piece and possibly lead the discussion without it being like you are the teacher and you are pushing students towards a topic. You’re more so guiding the conversation that way. You’re conversing as though this is your topic as well. So you can go around the room and either be an active participant in several students discussions if you see that they’re struggling or if it’s a topic that you yourself are actually interested in, or if your class is having a conversation altogether. And this allows you to share your opinions and your ideas, which is sometimes beneficial to students because they may not consider things that you as the teacher or as an adult would consider yourself.
These are some resources that we are going to provide for you down below. So the first one is
20 Collaborative Learning Tips for Teachers. We’ve shared some, but this is a pretty comprehensive list.
The next link is Student Collaboration: What, Why, and the Tools that you can use.
And the last one is 8 Fun Ways to Help your Students Collaborate in the Classroom.
Thank you so much for participating in our training. Student collaboration is super important, and I think most people think of just big group projects when they think of student collaboration, but that’s not necessarily the case.
If you would like to view any of our other trainings, subscribe to future trainings, have any questions or if you have any ideas for future webinars, please click here and we hope to see you for the next one. Thank you for joining.
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