Students working collaboratively and co-constructing knowledge is a powerful learning experience. What scaffolds can the teacher put in place to support all students as they collaborate?
The Module 2 reflective question asks how can a teacher scaffold support for students to work collaboratively. I believe that in this program, we have learned so many different avenues to connect (physically) with other students, but not as much as HOW. These shared readings have provided a great foundation for teachers to begin their journey.
When discussing the tools to share and work together, the article The Way of the Wiki: Building Online Creativity and Cooperation by Grace Rubenstein (April 13, 2014) describes the “ultimate enabler(s) of collaboration”, the wikispace. Teachers can use a wiki to share a virtual space for working together with parameters set for equity of participation. This is a characteristic all teachers struggle with when instilling values of accountability with students and group work.
Beyond accountability, teachers need to provide examples and activities that support a positive digital footprint. Students needs to be aware of the dangers of the Internet, however, they need to be “present” in a way that showcases effective skills and collaborative study. Many teachers have incorporated either wikis or a type of blogging site like Edmodo to their classroom repertoire. These pages are often private and not searchable. It’s a double standard when it comes to what we need to improve and what we are saying we need to protect against.
The most useful reading I found was the one from the College Preparatory School in Oakland, CA. It provided the “how” to get students to be group members and HOW to lead discussions that are student-based. Collaborative Learning Builds Deeper Understanding from May 2014, shows teachers that students can be instructed on how to own their learning and create environments that support group work and accountable talk. Students in the video discuss how their daily group work in math is a benefit to them by talking about their answers and work BEFORE they ask the teacher. Students can learn from each other in this respectful environment.
The following recommendations from the school provide teachers with a jumping point in order to create a similar atmosphere and learning environment within his/her own classroom.
Creating an Effective Classroom Geography
Focusing on the Process, Not Right Answers
Letting Students Teach One Another
Encouraging Students to Be In Tune With One Another
The one that held tight with me was the one about creating a classroom geography. Not only is it important to be able to visually see all students in the room in order to have effective discussions, but the use of the visual map is ingenious. This small task can make all the difference when faced with students who need to either step back from overtaking the group, or working with those students who need to participate more. It’s not a “gotcha” moment, but a reflective self-awareness of collaboration and idea sharing. All of these components of collaboration were technology-free, as well. I believe that is why I honed in on it being the biggest takeaway from Module 2.