Collaboration Benefits & Strategies

Decorative: An image of collaboration - 3 humanoid shapes assembling 5 cogs


"Collaboration: Facilitating and Assessing 21st Century Skills in Education" (post) outlines 10 good reasons for student collaboration in the classroom, 10 ways to facilitate student collaboration in the classroom, and 10  "I can" statements to help direct students collaborative efforts.

A. Good Reasons for Student Collaboration

  • "Allows for important meta-cognition that has the power to promote understanding"
  • "Provides an avenue for teacher to listen and assess learning"
  • "Opens a window to visible thinking for both students and teachers"
  • "Allows students to unlock learning using multiple interpretation and explanation"
  • "Provides access to a vital success skills, important in future careers"
  • "Allows for the development of active listening and thoughtful interaction"
  • "Promotes empathy and understanding while supporting work in diverse groups"
  • "Teaches self-regulation and proper social interaction"
  • "Facilitates the art of persuasion and promotes positive and productive discourse"
  • "Guides and builds powerful skills that promotes inquiry and problem solving"

B. Ways to Facilitate Student Collaboration

  • "Teach students how to collaborate. This might include a fishbowl or providing indicators on a rubric or a good video clip."
  • "Provide time for students to collaborate. Scaffold the collaboration if needed by bringing in questions and idea[s] at various times."
  • 'Provide students with a collaboration rubric [one model]. Have them look at the rubric before collaborating, and once again when they are finished."
  • "Make assessment of collaboration an ongoing effort. While the teacher can assess, have students assess themselves [as well]. Self-assessment can be powerful."
  • "Concentrate on specific indicators in a rubric. There are various indicators such as 'provides thoughts,' 'gives feedback,' etc. Concentrate on just one indicator while doing a lesson. There can even be an exit ticket reflection."
  • "Integrate the idea of collaboration in any lesson. Do not teach this skill in isolation. How does is work with a lesson, stem activity, project built, etc. What does collaboration look like in the online or blended environment?"
  • "Post a collaboration poster in the room. This poster could be a copy of a rubric, [the 4Cs Definitions,] or even a list of 'I Can Statements' [see Part C below]. Point it out before collaborating."
  • "Make collaboration part of your formative assessmentMove around the room, talk to groups and students, stop the whole group to make adjustments."
  • "Point out collaboration found in the content standards. Be aware that content standards often have words like 'discuss,' 'come to agreement,' 'debate,' and 'explain.' Collaboration has always been part of the standards."
  • "Plan for a school-wide emphasis. A culture that build[s] collaboration is usually bigger than one classroom. Develop school-wide vocabulary, posters, and initiatives."

C. "I Can" Statements

  • "I can share equal responsibility in a group."
  • "I can value opinions of others."
  • "I can work with others in a positive manner."
  • "I can compromise with individuals and the entire group."
  • "I can use active listening."
  • "I can practice empathy."
  • "I can take time to think about what others saying."
  • "I can work with a group to determine best tools, resources, and methods."
  • "I can work independently inside and outside the group."
  • "I can value the various strengths, skills, and abilities of all group members."
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