Collaboration Strategies for Your Classroom.

Gotta love those fancy education buzz words, right?

Collaboration

If you’re like me, you can’t help but go into your go to Vanilla Ice backup dancer day dream when you hear this word in PD sessions, ‘All right stop. Collaborate and listen…’

This word is more than a cheesy line in a fun 90s rap song (how do you stop, collaborate, and listen?!)

Collaboration may be a word that is being thrown around a lot lately (kind of like scaffold and rigor) but to me, it is for good reason. Who doesn’t love a little collaboration in their life? I know all you introverts are side eyeing me right now, but hear me out.

Collaboration is proven to deepen understanding. Cornell states (and according to Andy Bernard they are a fancy school so they should know) the benefits of collaboration are:

  • Development of higher-level thinking, oral communication, self-management, and leadership skills.

  • Promotion of student-faculty interaction.

  • Increase in student retention, self-esteem, and responsibility.

  • Exposure to and an increase in understanding of diverse perspectives.

  • Preparation for real life social and employment situations.

But we are in the trenches everyday, so we already know all of this. I know you have a lot of collaboration strategies you use that are straight up amazing, and I hope I can add to it with my 5 favorite activities that involve and encourage collaboration.

Divide then Conquer

Students combine individual brainstorms to develop a cohesive response to a problem or question. 

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  1. Put students in groups of 3-4

  2. Divide the paper or whiteboard into 4 sections. Each students will get a section to use for brainstorming.

  3. Present the students with your question or problem

  4. Set the timer for 2-3 minutes. During this time, students work independently brainstorming possible answers or solutions. They are not allowed to talk during this time.

  5. When the timer goes off, each student will share their ideas.

  6. They will combine the ideas to form one response and/or solution. They will write this on the back of the paper.

Around the World

Students work together to answer and evaluate questions that are placed on bags around the room.

1. On the outside of each paper bag write a question related to your topic

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2. Put one bag at each each group (split your class into 8 groups)

3. Set your timer for 2-5 minutes (depending on the depth of your question)

4. During this time, students work together to write a answer to the question on the bag. When they are finished, they will put the answer in the bag.

5. When the timer goes off, students will move together to the next table/bag. Reset your timer and the students will answer the question.

6. Repeat this process until they have made it all the way around the classroom and answered each question. 

7. When the students get back to their original table, they will take out the index cards from the bag, read through all the answers, and combine all the information to write one final answer on chart paper. 

Respond and Rank

Students work together to answer a question and will vote on the best group’s answer. 

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  1. Select one essential question for your students to answer. (Put them in groups of 2-3)

  2. They will work together to answer the question and write their final response on their chart paper or white board. Have them put their names on the back

  3. Display all of the final responses around the classroom. Make sure to number them. 

  4. Students will travel around the room together and read their classmate’s responses. They will make notes about what they like about each response. This can be done on notebook paper.

  5. After they read all of the responses, each group will vote for what they think it the best response (They can not vote for their own) They will vote by placing a sticky note on their favorite response. 

  6. Celebrate the winning response!

Master MEETUPS

Students become experts in one area and will swap information with other groups who will then take over the expert role for that topic.

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  1. Put your students in groups of 2-3

  2. Give each group a topic notecard. You can have them research the topic or provide them with the reading material/information to go with the topic. 

  3. After everyone finishes learning about their section/topic, you will start the Master Meetups.

  4. Master Meetups: Students will roam around the classroom and find another group. Pro Tip: Have students raise their hands if they are looking for a group to talk to. Groups will look around for other groups that have their hands up to partner with. 

  5. When the groups meet, they will each explain their topic. While explaining, students will take notes on the new information. 

  6. Then, they will switch notecards and they will now take on a new expert role based on the information they just learned. 

  7. Students will go through the meetup process (meet, learn, swap) until they have their notes sheet filled out.

Snapchat Summary Stories

During direct instruction this activity allows students to collaborate on short summaries to review key points. 

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  1. Put your students in partners

  2. Teach for a short amount of time, about  3-5 minutes about 1 idea.

  3. Set the timer for about 3 minutes. During this time, students will create an image on the sticky note with a 10 word (or less) story to go with it about what they just learned. Tell them to do this snapchat style. They should know what this means.

  4. They will place the sticky on their paper.

  5. You will teach again on a 2nd idea and they will repeat the process of image and 10 word (or less) story.

  6. The new sticky will go next to the other one to create the start of a story. By the end of the lesson, there should be several sticky notes in a row to create a story of the lesson. 

  7. Display these around the classroom and have students take pictures with their phones. 

Tech Tip: You can also do this on Google Slides instead of sticky notes. Some students find this easier.

I hope you can find a way to use these 5 strategies in your class!

If you like these, I have a Collaborative Strategy Collection that includes 7 more strategies you can use to increase collaboration in your classroom. They are great to print off, put on a ring, and have handy when you plan and teach. Click Here!

Also, I made this free checklist to help you make the most out of using collaboration strategies in your classroom. Just enter your name and email and it will be sent straight to you! Yay!

If you have any strategies you use in your classroom, please share!

Happy teaching,

Savannah