Stop! Collaborate and Learn! Do you have that Vanilla Ice song stuck in your head now? Well all singing aside, let’s talk collaboration. Collaboration is such an important life skill. We use it throughout our lives. Primary students need to be taught how to collaborate. When students engage in activities that require collaboration, they are communicating with each other and learning!
In the past, I would just have my table groups be a team, and they would work together. This worked okay, but sometimes I wanted to change my groups up. I also wanted accountability for the tasks that I was challenging them with. Well, this year we have a flexible seating classroom. There are no table groups, so here is what I came up with. It works for me, maybe it will work for you!
Forming Collaboration Groups
I like to have my collaboration teams work in groups of four. Sometimes that can’t work if I have absent students, so then I may have a group of three. Forming groups is easy! Students pull out a puzzle piece from our group puzzle bag.
Once they have a puzzle piece, they find their teammates. After they have formed groups a few times, this process is pretty quick because they get to know the pictures that the puzzles form.
You may have noticed colored dots on the puzzles pieces in the above picture. These colored dots indicate the job for that team member. Teams have four distinct jobs. The color on each puzzle piece coordinates to their job. The jobs are as follows:
- Team Captain
- Supplies Manager
- Head of Clean-Up
Each job has specific things that is expected of them. If I have a group of three students, I combine the supplies manager and head of clean-up job.
Sometimes I have a team work together for an extended period of time, but I want to change up the jobs. In that case, student pull out a team job and stay with their same team.
Once jobs are picked, the team fills out a team sign-in form. This form is turned in to me so I know who had what job. Students write their name and color in the circle according to their job.
Reviewing expectations of each job is important, so we review those. The rules of collaboration are also reviewed. I’ve made a simple anchor that we keep up in the classroom to refer to (nothing fancy). We even have a collaboration song that we sing!
An important piece to our collaboration teams is reflecting on how things went. I ask my students to think about how well did they contribute? Did they listen to their teammates? Did they include everyone with their task? When their task is complete, each student fills out a simple self-reflection form.
*Disclaimer, this process is not something that I set them free the first time and expect it all to be perfect. We read books about teamwork and collaboration. Students practice and role-play each job. We reflect as a class what worked and what didn’t work. It’s an ongoing learning process.
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Do you use collaboration groups in your classroom? What works for you? If you are interested in any of these collaboration tools, check out Stop, Collaborate and Learn! in my TPT store.