January 26, 2016
There is little debate that high-functioning collaborative teams are the key cog that drives the work of a Professional Learning Community. But what actually makes a team high-functioning is the conversations that occur around not only WHAT we are collectively teaching but HOW we are collectively teaching. The Clay County Framework for Intentional Teaching offers a flexible model of instruction that provides a common language for collaborative teams to discuss how they are approaching instruction of the standards. This week's Training Tuesday video features clips around collaborative learning.
I hope that you can find a few minutes to watch the video. Maybe it will start a conversation in your PLC around HOW you structure learning as well as HOW you allow students to work collaboratively in your own classrooms!
Talking The Talk
When students engage in accountable talk in the classroom they not only have the opportunity to practice an essential 21st Century skill, they also provide insight into their thinking and reasoning which can otherwise be difficult for a teacher to see. During collaboration students can grapple with decision making, negotiate productive struggle, support and advocate for their position, and consider others’ viewpoints before arriving at consensus.
Great conversations in the classroom don’t happen by chance. As you plan for communication during collaborative learning in your classrooms there are some things to keep in mind. These considerations can increase the impact of the communication, and ensure greater success within the student groups.
Planning for purposeful talk
Teachers provide a model of expert thinking and communication in the classroom; but students need the opportunity to put it into practice themselves. Establish a clear purpose for collaboration that will bring students closer to accomplishing the daily learning.
Creating an environment that encourages academic discourse
Consider the environment of the room. Does the physical arrangement promote discussion? Does it allow students to hear and be heard by the other members they are collaborating with? Are there cues for students to refer to with academic vocabulary, conversation starters, or sentence frames easily accessible?
Managing the academic discourse
The six MTSV practices for accountable talk, which were presented last Tuesday are one way teachers can begin to build their students’ communication and interpersonal skills. Providing students with scaffolds for communication will increase confidence and shows students ways to consolidate learning with their peers.
Assessing language development
Like all other areas of teaching and learning, reflection and feedback on communication and collaboration are essential to continued growth. Students can benefit from the opportunity to debrief their experiences working with peers.
In The Classroom
Collaboration can look very different from classroom to classroom and even day to day within the same rooms. The purpose of the collaborative will determine the structure, content, set up and task students will collaborate around. This video presents examples of collaborative learning in a variety of Clay County classrooms. These clips, which are aligned to the framework rubrics, feature classrooms visited during the November Learning Walks at WES, LAJH, and OHS.