9 collaborative learning tips and strategies for teacher
What is your typical day like? (for teachers)
Every morning, you go to school and start with your lecture. You teach a topic and give assignments.
While teaching or giving assignment, how’s the mood of students?
“Oh god, another assignment”.
Yeah, that’s their first assignment, but the reaction remains the same.
Where’s the problem?
Doesn’t matter how interesting a topic is, they will never love it.
Your way of giving them lectures and assignments needs to be changed.
You have to understand that the first key to make them really listen to what you are saying is engagement.
Why not think from their perspective?
We all know that students love missions. Not only students, everyone loves a mission to accomplish.
Well, the idea of collaborative learning stems from the word ‘mission’ requiring a team of “ninjas” right?
Given below are top ideas and strategies for you to employ collaborative learning so the next time you are giving an assignment; you feel as excited as your students.
So, before going to the strategies,
What is Collaborative Learning?
Well, the word itself defines a lot of things. So, let’s define the wonders here.
Your students will be working as a team for a project (or an assignment), by dividing the work equally. Whenever anyone adds something, he/she scores some points. You will lead the whole mission as a guide (or a master). The team itself will choose a leader.
Sounds like a “boring-and-will-take-hard work”?
Instruct your students, and see the magic.
And now, let’s get to the strategies.
Define a Goal
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Well, what is the first thing to start a mission (assignment in your language)?
You might have noticed the engagement of students you get when before starting a lecture, you tell them why they are studying this. What will happen after studying the chapters? What are those undiscovered or “no-one-has-asked” questions which would blow their mind?
Yeah, many teachers don’t do that.
But in collaborative learning, you can’t move forward without a goal.
The team must know the intentions behind this mission.
Define a proper goal. A big goal, which should be the ultimate outcome of the project and some short goals to move forward towards the big one.
For example, the ultimate outcome of the project should be something like “How Tesla would provide EV cars for $25000, while the short goals are like “the new batteries they are manufacturing”.
Set a deadline for the goal. Deadlines motivate a person to be consistent in their work and provide the results in time.
How to assess them?
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The real purpose of assessment is to get to know how much the student has learned about the topic.
In collaborative learning, we can say it is more about the participation and efforts (it’s the same thing).
You can assess them on their management part as well.
This time, it’s not just something about what they have learned, but about what skills they have acquired by doing that.
Give them marks on the basis of their engagement in the project, their team management skills and their work they put in the project.
You can assess them by exchanging the feedback. Both teacher and student should get valuable feedback, so that you can know if the student has mastered the topic well or not.
Constant feedback is necessary for them to move forward.
You also teach students how to assess themselves. That’s the main part of assessment.
He/she knows where they need improvement and where they have performed outstanding.
Also, the presentation part must be divided equally so that every student should get a chance to present their topics in front of everyone. Then only they will get confidence in their learning.
In a jigsaw, you have to collect several pieces to make it a whole. Just like that, students will be divided on the basis of sub-categories of the topic in a given team.
Each student will be responsible for the research and design part or anything related to the given sub-topic.
This strategy teaches the students how to be responsible.
Not only this, every student has to present the sub-topic in the team as well as in the time of presentation so that other students get to learn about the topic.
This is a very effective method of learning.
Students learn a lot of life skills through this process such as communication and working within the timelines.
Also, this method will motivate them to do discussions within the team and so they easily learn how to work in a team.
Students get practice in peer teaching and so, your students will learn a lot of life skills from a single assignment.
Role of Technology
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We have seen a lot of changes in the world of technology. You can remember your days when your teacher had to write on a board to teach you (it also happens today) but now the students have got new options.
The online smart whiteboards, google classroom, google, drive, various online courses and many more applications.
How can you use technology in collaborative learning to make it more effective?
Well, think about this.
Students would need to discuss outside the school, right?
Well, with google classroom or Zoom meeting app, you can start an instant meeting from anywhere.
Technology has given them a room to share the findings, to share any relevant videos or documents with no effort.
You could use IT help desks and many other tools to use virtual equipment to help them understand everything easily in collaborative learning.
Interaction among students and teachers
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Well, interaction is the main key of collaborative learning. You as a teacher have to interact with every team member and also encourage them to speak.
Three are many introverts you will see who just listen, complete the job perfectly but couldn’t present it.
Interaction gives them ways, takes out the questions they face and it also makes the learning procedure becomes more effective.
Interaction among the students is necessary.
Their project will never reach the right conclusion unless you have a healthy discussion.
Interaction also enables them to take out any mistakes they might be committing or any question they come up with which would resolve every doubt.
It can be anything.
You should motivate them to interact more and more within themselves and with you.
Allows students to shed anxiety
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When the students research about a topic, or do an assignment and they have a deadline, they get stressed.
How does group learning reduce this anxiety?
Well, the best part of working in a team is a student never gets that fear because they all equally feel that.
Some jokes are cracked, students keep talking to each other and this builds a very safe and healthy environment.
In this type of environment, the main thing is, they love to do more work and complete within the deadline.
You can also join some of their meetings, and sit there not just as a mentor but as a friend.
Make them feel very safe and create that “chill” environment.
This will also make them comfortable in discussing anything with you.
Respect the Diversity
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This is a very great saying that we come close not because of our similarities, but because of our differences.
An individual project may run with the individual’s beliefs and opinions, but in a team, you will see different opinions.
No perspective is bad; the main thing is to accept the one which will produce better results.
The first duty of the group leader is to accept every opinion.
You should make it possible by observation and joining their meetings.
A student doesn’t feel comfortable in a group where his opinions don't matter.
All the opinions can’t be accepted, but they can reach a conclusion.
A student can give some technological aspect, like how they can use technology to get the best results whereas a student with the design knowledge may share his opinions on how the project should be presented. Another student who has a knowledge of history may introduce some of the main facts.
The best part of collaborative learning is this only, you get a lot of opinions which are right at their place and so they produce the best results.
Make sure you don’t share any opinion. You are here to just observe and assist them how they can achieve.
The rest they will do it themselves.
Focus on other skills as well
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The main purpose of doing a project in a team or rather say, in a collaborative learning is not just to get the best results.
Students can acquire a lot of other life skills which will build them in every aspect.
So which skills you must focus on while giving them a project?
The first and foremost, Public speaking.
You might have seen your students struggling with speaking in front of class.
Even if they are comfortable in class, their legs may shake in front of the whole school.
You should encourage each of them to present their topic.
While assessing them, don’t give marks to someone who has performed the best.
Give marks to everyone who has defeated his fear and stand in front of everyone.
That attitude is necessary.
Other skills can be built in their group meetings. In a class, it is not possible to be present in every team meeting, but you should be present in some of their meetings.
Observe how they are interacting. How they are dividing the responsibilities. How much they are attentive while listening to one member and how they are setting the deadlines.
What they have learned?
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Well, each of the team members might be working on a particular topic.
While presenting their sub-topics, they must know what was the main objective of the topic.
You should ask them what they have learned from the topic.
The key points and how the topic can be useful for society.
Ask them about how engaging was the topic and how they can make it sound more interesting.
These different questions will make sure that they have learned everything successfully.
So these are the 9 best strategies you can use for collaborative learning and this will also build a strong relationship between students and a teacher.
Comment below which strategy you liked the post and do share the blog because every teacher will want to about these strategies.