I am a first year English and History teacher at a public school. I worked as an English paraprofessional at a therapeutic boarding school for about a year and a half while I was working on my degree. So, for the past few years, I have been knee-deep in education. One topic that always seems to come up with other teachers is the idea of collaborative learning. I am always amazed when teachers say that they don't like (or use) collaborative learning because it creates an opportunity for students to cheat.
While I don't disagree with their claim, I find myself weighing this possibility with the innumerable pros to collaborative learning. I know that my students are the most engaged when they work together. Not only do they feed off of the ideas of their peers, but they also debate. I LOVE debate because if forces the students to look at something from all angles. This is another benefit of collaborative learning- students have to stretch their minds and constantly think outside of the norm.
I came across this article from Edutopia that really stuck out to me. I love how it says "In preparing our students for college and careers, 21st century skills call on us to develop highly collaborative citizens." Isn't that our mission, as teachers, after all?
I also really like the structure of the article. The headings are Teach Them to Listen, Teach Them the Art of Asking Good Questions, Teach Them How to Negotiate, and Model What we Expect. This means that collaborative learning takes time and effort from the teacher. Yes, if you put a worksheet in front of 4 or 5 students, they will probably cheat. But, if you take the time to teach your students (crazy idea, right?) , they will truly grow into the "highly collaborative citizens" we hope they will.
All right. I'll get off my soap box now. Enjoy the article and the website in its entirety!