One of our three rules this year is to “Collaborate & Cooperate.” The reasons why are abundant:
- Cooperative Grouping leads to higher academic success.
- People are more creative and innovative when working in small groups.
- It is critical to future economic and social needs.
- Improved communication can lead to improved academic performance.
- It may even be the new “concrete” learning, as students may be expected to collaborate at a more advanced level (online!) during HS and college.
- And students learn about each other, learn to appreciate each others gifts, and learn different methods of organization, studying, and learning.
Collaborative learning works because it best simulates an authentic learning/working environment. Few of us, as adults, work in true isolation with no other people. Collaboration not only helps us work better, but it is an unavoidable reality for most professions and workers.
So does this involved us? Hopefully, collaboration is obvious to the academic and social success of students. Aside from being a stated goal of my room, this will travel home. Students will be (and already are, in some cases) frustrated with their group. It’s very important that we reinforce the importance of learning to work with one another. Each class identified what the characteristics are of a good group. We’re reviewing those today. We do teamwork, communication, and collaborative exercises every day, with one day reserved for nothing but that.
This will not be a quick learning process for all. There is no magic lesson or magic pill to make all students good collaborative workers. The students need support at home when they are frustrated. Help them understand how this is similar to a work environment, and share some of your experiences to solve the problems. I sit with each group, everyday. I’m in constant interaction with the students. However, you not only know your children’s strengths and weaknesses better, but will likely motivate them better with a good parent-child discussion on what you’ve done in situations like this. I hope this makes you feel like a part of the classroom, as more than just learning concrete facts, you’re helping me teach the students how to work with one another.
Later in the week, I’ll post what some of the groups said are the good and bad traits, what have been the successes so far, as well as the failures. Feel free to comment or e-mail me if you have a question regarding cooperative learning groups and collaboration.