Can you think of a job that does not work in some kind of team, partnership, group, or staff? Collaboration skills are so important to ensure that our students can work effectively together. I don't mean, find a partner and work, I mean that children have the skills to work together in a variety of groups (teacher created, student created, inquiry driven, or interest driven.)
Collaboration skills need to be explicitly taught and modeled. Just like reading, writing and math strategies, students need to learn a repertoire of social skills, like active listening, how to take turns in a conversation and how to receive others' ideas respectfully.
While our students have been working on their latest curricular inquiry circles, my teaching partner, Sarah and I had started to notice that we were putting out a lot of fires and devoting a lot of time to refereeing battles between group members. Here are some of the mini lessons we delivered to help remind our students of their collaboration skills.
At the beginning of our Inquiry students created "Ground Rules" with their new groups.
After discussing the clip, Sarah had our students role play in their inquiry groups what it looks like when students are listening carefully, taking turns and monitoring their own participation. They also role played what it looks like when they do not work effectively. Students discussed both ways and it made them realize the mistakes they were making in the group that was sabotaging their learning.
We also thought it would help our groups work more smoothly if they had a plan and a reflection area where they could reflect on how they thought they worked with their group that day. Our fabulous special assignment teacher Lisa Galvan created the following student planning and reflection sheet