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.