Posted by Courtney Carmichael at 9/29/2014
Fostering collaborative strategies in the classroom increases critical thinking and builds on multiple skills for the students to master. According to Clifford (2011), "Collaborative learning teams are said to attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually."
Working with partners or groups is something that every teacher should practice early in the year to establish norms and expectations. Explaining how to do the activity and where the students should sit before breaking into the activity is recommended. Pairing is great for quick discussions but mid-size groups of 4-5 is best for longer assignments and provides optimal efficiency and diversity.
Think-Pair-Share: A classic in classroom methodology this provides for students opportunities to participate with little risk. Students think on their own to provide an answer to a question posed by a teacher. Partners or small groups discuss the answers quietly to each other. Finally, the whole group shares out the answers found in the discussion.
Note Check: During a whole class lecture, students pause to take a few minutes to compare notes with a partner. The objective is to summarize important parts and then clarify any questions or sticking points.
Question and Answer Pairs: This activity is great for summarizing content but can provide higher order thinking strategies as well. Students try to stump one another by asking each other questions. This can be completed verbally back and forth or creating a “quiz” for the other student. For the teacher, this is a good time to expose students to what good questions are. Some questions can be used in later assessments.
Jigsaw: Students become experts in the material. Assigning small readings in class to various groups, each group can become familiar with the content. A task like answering questions or taking notes can go along with the reading. At the end of the activity, the group members are split into other groups. Assigning each group member a number and then having all of the 1s get together, and the 2s, etc is a quick way of moving into the new groups. The group members then share out the material, teaching the rest of the group.
Number Strategy: Before working in groups, students are assigned a number. Students are then asked to discuss an open-ended question. The teacher calls out one number and the student with that number must respond to the whole class. This technique ensures that all members are on the same page and remain engaged in the discussion.