Over the past few months as we have worked through the challenges of remote teaching, it has become even more clear that we need to provide opportunities for our students to develop skills for collaboration. Communication skills are a critical component.
Our districts need to provide opportunities for students to work together. Through these experiences, students can develop the necessary skills for working on a team and help them to build social-emotional learning skills. We must be intentional about finding ways to engage our students more by learning from one another in their classrooms and beyond.
Technology can be an important part of collaboration by creating access to more resources. With new digital tools offering innovative ways to collaborate, the prior constraints on how, when and where learning can take place are gone. The biggest consideration now: Do our students and schools have the right access to the resources they need?
Here are three ways to promote collaboration both in the physical classroom setting as well as the virtual learning space.
1. Blogging and website design
Blogging offers many benefits in addition to building literacy skills and helping students to share learning in a more authentic way. It can be a way to build relationships between students as they exchange ideas and feedback and engage in more conversations in the classroom and virtual space. Try tools such as Kidblog or Edublogs; and even using Seesaw can provide many options for students.
We must be intentional about finding ways to engage our students more by learning from one another in their classrooms and beyond.
2. Cross-curricular collaboration
Educators should consider working with colleagues from other curricular areas or different grade levels, and bring their students together to work on projects. A few years ago, I started doing this as part of project-based learning with my STEAM course. I collaborated with an eighth-grade science teacher, and our students used Buncee to create their challenge-based learning presentations.
3. Extended classroom discussions
Have you ever had a great discussion going in class only to have it interrupted by the bell? Have you tried to encourage students to share their ideas during class but have not been successful? We have many tools available that can be beneficial for student learning and student confidence. Try Padlet or Wakelet to post an idea or share resources on Flipgrid to create short videos as a prompt for students to discuss.
It is a difficult time for students as they adjust to online learning. By offering some of these options, students can not only connect with the content they are learning, but also apply it in a more authentic, personal way. And they will build their communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Especially now with social interactions limited, it is important that we provide opportunities for students to engage in meaningful learning experiences that promote the development of SEL skills and empower students to communicate and collaborate regardless of the learning space.
DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.