Thursday, June 10, 2021


(During the summer months, I like to take the alphabet and come up with words and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

This is one of my favorite words for education.

When I was growing up, there was a focus on working independently and doing the work all by yourself. Teachers didn’t want you to work in groups or with other students. They wanted to see that you could do things on your own.

I think that is a good skill to have but it should not be the only skill you have in order to be successful in today’s society.

In today’s world, employers are looking for people who can work on a team. They need workers who are able to collaborate with others.

Collaborating is a skill that needs continuous practice. It involves using people skills as well as personal strengths.

When I was growing up, I remember my mother helping me with a problem and saying that sometimes two heads are better than one. She was teaching me that there are times that it is okay to ask for help and to work with someone else to achieve your goal.

Too many times my students don’t want to work with others because they are afraid that they will look stupid or their classmates might make fun of them. I try to explain that this is a natural feeling and everyone feels that way when they join a new group.

The important thing to remember that everyone has different skills and when joined together, the group can be better and stronger. I relate this to a football game. Can one player beat an opposing team all by himself? No, he can’t. With a team, they can work together which makes them stronger than one person.

I also have my student imagine that they are parts of a car. Each one may be a strong part by itself but can the car run with only that one part? If you put all the parts together, the car will be able to run.

When we tell students to get in a group and collaborate, many of them do not understand what is being asked. They do not understand what they need to do in order to collaborate and this needs to spelled out for them.

This is what students need to do:
  • What is the problem/goal? What is the group trying to achieve?
  • How much time do you have to do this?
  • What materials will you need?
  • Break the job into smaller tasks.
  • Have people volunteer for the smaller tasks.
  • Assign different manager roles such as Task manager (assigns each group member their tasks), Time manager (keeping track of the time), Materials manager (gets the materials needed), Record manager (keeps track of any notes and task assignments)
  • Work on individual tasks.
  • Meet together and put all parts together.
  • Proofread their work.
  • Turn in the finished project. 
How do you teach collaboration? Please share.

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

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