Common Core Standards place a large emphasis on collaboration through technology, and more often than not collaboration in a classroom setting means group work. There’s nothing particularly fresh or creative about group work, and teachers are constantly struggling to keep students attention. With technology, you can create a group experience that differs greatly from the antiquated method of pulling chairs together while one group leader does most of the work.
The vast amount of options for promoting collaboration in the classroom includes blogs, class pages and instant messaging. Each of these tools allows teachers to step beyond the traditional scope of group work, allowing students to produce in an environment that encourages more engagement and interactivity.
When the curriculum requires traditional group work, incorporate the use of a group blog. Students can use the blog to track their progress and to reflect on new challenges. Blogs are a great tool for teachers and students to record student progress and improvement.
Each group member should be responsible for contributing individually to the blog and as a group. As students work on their group blog, they will develop an online identity for the group, which will help strengthen the ties of collaboration.
One of the most important aspects of writing is having a clear understanding of your audience. By incorporating Class Pages in addition to a group blog, you encourage students to pay closer attention to their audience. While the group blog has a more internal audience of the teacher and their peers, a Class Page has more of an external target.
Split your class into groups and assign different tasks to each group. For example, one group might be responsible for coming up with the monthly theme while another group is responsible for the images to post on the Class Page. This type of project not only requires students to collaborate with their small group, but they also get an opportunity to contribute to the bigger picture because each groups ideas will need to coordinate with the other groups for one cohesive Class Page.
While instant messaging might be the last thing you want to incorporate into the classroom, it can give students a way to collaborate in real time, which forces critical thinking and aids in Common Core progression for writing.
Incorporating instant messaging (IM) into your curriculum not only gives a creative approach to collaboration, but it also helps improve students’ abilities to think on their feet and make decisions under pressure. Both IM and discussion boards are great for critical thinking, but when student responses are required instantly, a different kind of learning takes place.