This week we are delving into a real favourite area of mine…the art of facilitating collaboration. I truly believe how we create these opportunities to learn with and from each other is such a crucial part of being an educator. When we make time for these collaborative moments on a regular basis it gives our students and colleagues an idea of what we value. And I really value collaboration.

Creating these structured opportunities for collaborative learning facilitates deeper understanding.

Setting up time in our busy schedules to sit down and learn from each other is a really valuable time as it supports some of the collaboration skills that we need students to develop during our time with us. These moments are ways in which we can embed the IB’s Approaches to Learning or Kath Murdoch’s Learner Assets into the heart of our day. Giving students (and colleagues) the opportunity to refine our collaborative skills and open our minds to other ways of thinking.

“Listening and questioning are the basis for positive classroom interactions that can in turn shape meaningful collaboration, which can then build a culture of thinking. At the heart of these two practices lies a respect for and interest in students’ thinking.” Ron Ritchhart

At the heart of this idea is that effective educators need to be facilitators, collaborators, and co-learners.

There are a variety of tools and strategies that can help and support these collaborations, whether it be in person or virtually. I love to use Visible Thinking Routines as a way of structuring these collaborative learning moments. They can be used in person in class (here is a peak into some documentation I did as Kindergarten Teacher around our inquiry into celebrations) and also virtually too. Using these routines virtually there are a whole heap of options; from Bookcreator, Pear Deck and my personal favorite Padlet.

Carol Geneix, and Jaime Chao-Mignano at Washington International School have put together a resource page in which thinking routines are matched to appropriate online tools. Check it out here.

Of course there are other ways in which we can structure collaboration. The Harkness protocol is a great way to empower students too. Parlay ideas is tool which you could use to help document the conversation. Flipgrid is also a wonderful tool that allows us to learn from each other asynchronously, around a prompt, question or protocol.

However we structure the collaboration or the tool that we use, it is important to remember that we want students to be talking, sharing and learning from each other. Technology can allow us to connect with diverse ideas and people. Some of the themes that you will see in your readings are global connection, collaborating asynchronously, and the representation of social identities. But use technology wisely because we know that it can limit student discussion—or encourage it.

This Week:

Facilitate a structured learning activity/discussion in your classroom or school (either virtually or in person.) Which structure/protocol/routine will you choose? How will you communicate your expectations and the process? How will this experience challenge students to use a design process and practice computational thinking? How will you incorporate technology in order to enhance/deepen the experience? How will you demonstrate cultural competency?

Write a blog post reflecting on the experience of facilitating a learning activity/discussion. Some questions you might consider: Which structure did you choose? What topic was explored? Which ISTE Standards for Students were the focus of this experience? How did technology enhance the experience? Did you have any complications with technology? How did you co-learn with students? How did this experience support collaboration, design and computational thinking?

If you have not yet, please take a few minutes to complete the Mid-Program Survey. Your feedback matters!

Don’t forget to read the posts from your cohort peers and leave meaningful comments!