Working with others can be a challenge, especially when there are multiple personalities. Being able to collaborate with others is a skill that is increasingly being sought after in the workplace. Are you doing what you can do help your students grow that skill? Here are 5 simple and easy things to do to help foster collaboration in the classroom.
1. Put your Students into Groups
The absolute first thing you need to do is to get your students physically sitting in groups. If they are still sitting in rows, pull those desks together ASAP. Rows are for testing, not for learning!
2. Give them an Opportunity to Get to Know each Other
Don’t let the fact that your students have been in the same class since the beginning of the year fool you into thinking that all of your students know each other. You would be surprised that many do not even know each other’s name. If you want them to work together, they need to know each other and establish a relationship. Use a quick 5 minute get to know you activity. Have your students pick a team name to give them something that will unite them.
3. Give your Students Team Roles
This is a vital step in getting all of your students to participate. Often times, there are students who want to sit back and allow everyone else to work, and there are some who want to work, they just don’t know how to contribute or to initiate conversation.
4. Give your Students Sentence Starters to Initiate their Conversation
A lot of times, when you say “go!”, students will just stare at each other. (cue cricket sounds) Give students sentence starters to get their conversations going! Its as easy as having 5 bullets of what you want the conversation to be about and having students picking what they want to share.
5. Practice Conflict Resolution
Every once in a while, students are going to fight and argue. Use this as an opportunity to use conflict resolution. As a class, come up with 2 steps that students will do prior to getting the teacher involved. This can include using sentence starters, group/ peer mediation, cool down time, etc. It’s important for students to know there are ways to resolve their conflict.