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Administrator at large

I agree with your main ideas

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I agree with your main ideas and these are some good scaffolding suggestions, too.

I think it is important to think of teaching as an activity that involves lots of methods and an ability to vary methods as needed by the situation. Collaboration is great but if that is all you do, you are missing out on other kinds of learning. As someone else pointed out, students need opportunities to learn independently as well, and to learn through writing, etc. To say you are not really teaching in the traditional sense baffles me. Facilitating collaboration is an important kind of teaching and always has been. It is nothing new. To do that and nothing else perhaps is not teaching in traditional sense, as a teacher uses any method she needs to meet her objectives. Working in groups is only one of many, I would think.

Second grade teacher from Baltimore, Maryland

I do agree that collaboration

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I do agree that collaboration is key to success in the classroom. Each student comes from a different background, has different skills and has a different perspective so they learn from each other. This is a great way to let ideas flow in the classroom and get the children to think creatively. Thanks for the tips about teaching the students how to negotiate. It is often difficult for them to compromise and be flexible to make sure that everyone in the group has a voice.

Elementary Teacher

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Although collaboration is a skill we expect and need from our students it is good to understand the need of many students to work independently. I am reading "Quiet, Introverts in a World that Won't Stop Talking". Introverts have accomplished much indenpendently in the world - Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Ghandi etc.. We need to structure our groups and structure our school day and assignments with them in mind. I think if you are going to best teach collaboration as a skill and make it successful, understanding our personalities and their integral needs is crucial. I highly recommend this book to educators.

Specialist in Gifted and Talented Education

Scaffolding - Adults need it too!

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I sincerely agree with you. Just attend an adult seminar or workshop of professionals and see how the art of collaborative action, learning, leadership etc can be elusive. You will notice domineering characters, withdrawn ones, distracted and disturbing participants just to mention a few. I think if the art of collaborative learning was mastered in formative years we can have more functional systems and structures, better engaged workers, participatory leadership and not despots, democratic systems and so on.

I just wonder how many of us got this kind of formation as teachers and whether we are not just mirroring our training. However learning is a continuous process and often takes humility and practical appraisal of what one can and can't do.

All said and done, I have a sneaky sympathy for my Kenyan(read Africa) colleagues who have to man mammoth classes. In primary schools some class have even 100 pupils! Call it crazy but there you are. Often one teacher has to teacher various subjects to a huge class with basic limited resources like textbooks. Secondary schools are better because you will be lucky to handle 40 students in a class. However grim, we have to try and practice collaboration.

For some ideas please get in touch with me on info@thekencelebs.com. If I am not able to respond to your concerns especially in the African context which am biased to, I will be sure to refer you to someone who can.

Many thanks for the article,

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Many thanks for the article, it's was very good to see the importance of collaborative learning and deeper understanding being emphasised, as these are two areas I have always tried to have at the forefront of my teaching practice.
I try to include cooperative learning activities in my lessons as often as I can and always use the roles:
The resource manager, the air traffic controller (in charge of who speaks when), the scribe and the encourager.
Once the students have been adequately trained in group work and know how to work together they do really enjoy further opportunities to work together solving puzzles I have made for them. Some of the discussions I have heard students having about maths have been amazing and could not have been facilitated using any textbook.
However, just like our students need training to work together in teams it is also important there is training for teachers to ensure they can create, facilitate and improve activities of this type for their students.

Author, The Middle School Student's Guide to Ruling the World!

For the rest of their lives –

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For the rest of their lives – throughout high school, college, and then in the workforce, students will participate in group projects in the form of study groups, research, business or sales teams, committees or boards. There’s strength in numbers, but there’s also conflict and frustration. Group projects can be fraught with personality conflicts, unequal workload distribution, and unresolved disagreements, leaving students with a negative impression of team activities. But, a group project experience can be an ideal way to teach middle school students real-life skills (and challenges) of team work and team building. Here's a link to a Group Project Organizer students can use to successfully manage their project.
http://www.middleschoolguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/TMSSGTRW-SW-...

Media Teacher

I think you are right on!

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I think you are right on! A true collaborative environment leads to deeper learning. As you pointed out, that kind of environment takes work to create. Most of the students I get in my middle school media classes don't know how to handle the freedom and responsibility it takes to collaboratively create media projects. You talked about scaffolding and that takes a dynamic plan and patience. When things finally start coming together, it's exciting to see the results of that deeper thinking!
http://thekimballcoburnschoolofthought.wordpress.com/

Educator, Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com

Collaboration is such an

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Collaboration is such an important life skill and I agree that students need to be taught how to work together. I love having students work together when creating podcasts http://wp.me/p2qsME-6Q or retelling a story http://wp.me/p2qsME-aw

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