The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?
I want to start answering this question by thinking about what the ideal collaboration between anyone might look like. I have collaborated with lots of colleagues in the past, and this is an interesting reflection to think about what was right and good with collaboration versus what failed.
Collaboration requires a common outcome that is understood by all parties involved. In order to collaborate well, the individuals must have a very clear understanding of how and why they are working together. All too often, I have found myself lumped in a group with no clear focus or understanding of the purpose. Sometimes, it seems that teachers will make students work in groups just to say they made students work in groups.
The closest to an “ideal” collaboration that I have had in my classroom is in my Creative Writing class. I use the National Writing Project model of response groups. Students share their writing in these collaborative groups, pushing one another week in and week out to write better. The collaboration in these groups is honest and authentic. I don’t have to force an objective and make up tasks for each person the group to accomplish. The best of these groups understand that they are there for one another, and they perform for the group not for the teacher.