Work Together to Learn More
Collaborative classes can be imagined as a group of children gathered at a table engaged in a high-level task, discussing, possibly debating an issue, making shared decisions and designing a product that demonstrates all deeper learning. It will help them to develop not only social skills but will also teach them responsibility for their actions. Collaborative project-based learning can also be used as a strategy to teach children to respect and understand each other’s perspectives as they work together to complete a shared goal.
During collaborative learning children have an opportunity to decide on group norms, or agreements and each student will have a voice and provide accountability for all. Children (depending on the age) might come up with things like: “one person talks at a time,” “respect each other and all ideas,” and “no put-downs”. Collaborative classes also teach children how to listen – good listeners are both rare and valued in our culture. They quickly learn that people who really listen (make eye contact, offer empathy, restrain from cutting others off in a conversation) are easy to like and respect.
Accountability is an important factor in-group working agreements. Since a teacher must find creative and effective ways to support multiple groups working at once in the classroom, assigning roles to students can be incredibly helpful. For example, if in a group of four reading and analyzing a passage in a novel, each student may have a specific responsibility to fulfill. For the group to be successful each child must complete the jobs that accompany his/her role—and those roles may shift over time. These kinds of exercises teach children responsibility for their actions and the ability to collaborate effectively.
At Sequoyah, students are encouraged to find their own voices, set academic goals and define a path for themselves. The Sequoyah School is located at 535 South Pasadena Avenue, Pasadena. Call (626) 795 4351 or visit www.sequoyahschool.org for more information.