Posted by: darcymullin | March 14, 2011

Moving Toward a Collaborative Process – Part 2


In a recent post  I wrote about the engagement and successes in the classroom as the students moved toward a collaborative, project based approach.  As we move to the summative part of the unit and kids are forced to apply their knowledge and what they have learned, old patterns are beginning to emerge.

It is obvious that some groups are struggling, but not in the same ways or in the same areas.  Some are lacking some of the requisite problem solving skills.  Some students are struggling with attentive listening and sharing responsibility – core elements of effective collaboration.  Some groups are also beginning to struggle with their level of engagement.  We are 3 weeks into the project and some of the initial excitement is gone.  That said, most groups were still functioning and engaged. 

As the teacher, I knew I had to get some of the groups back on track.  I sat down with each of the struggling groups and talked about what was happening.  We talked candidly about what was working and what was not.  We talked about feelings and how people felt, when members were off task, not contributing etc.  In the end the groups decided on three goals that they would focus on for each of the subsequent classes.  The turnaround was immediate – the students were refocused and back on track.


Like my last post, it is early, but groups are refocused on their projects and their learning.  I think more than anything, learning the process of collaboration hard work and best done in context.  Just like learning “curriculum” kids learning how to collaborate are at different places and the learning and teaching needs to be where they are at right now, not where we think they should be based on their age, time of year etc.

Comments and ideas are appreciated – so feel free to share.



  1. You articulate very well that problem (which I think teachers enjoy) of how to measure each child at each child’s pace, and using the tools that best evaluate each child.

    You don’t mention this, and I don’t think I’ve seen this on other pages of your blog, but do you ever think about what would a teacher develop if the teacher developed what would some day be the NCLB created by educators? That’s a little “what-if” that I like to think about.

    What teachers actually had a say in how NCLB was structured?

    • Hi Douglas, thanks for the comments. As for the NCLB, I am Canadian, so I don’t have a deep understanding of the program other than the sometimes devastating side effects on low performing (and often low income) schools. That said, the concept of children not moving forward until they have mastered the essential learnings is not flawed logic, but the current model does not work. I think giving each student the instruction they need at the very moment they need it is the holy grail of education, but is an incredibly difficult to do as a single classroom teacher. Technology has a role to play here – Khan Academy has possibilities, but I am not convinced that it is the holy grail we are looking for. Some (like Bill Gates) would disagree.

      How would you effectively structure a program like NLCB?

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