Davis Desk

3 Ways to Foster Collaboration

By Barbara Place, posted on Oct 25, 2019

Why do we care about collaboration? Because we know that we learn through interactions with others.

Students creating a collaborative mural using PiktoTape

Classrooms with an active learning community are classrooms with high student engagement and motivation. Collaboration increases learning, social-emotional skills, communicative abilities, and problem-solving skills—all essential for college and career readiness. Try these three ways of fostering collaboration in your classroom:

1. Use Diverse Teams

Assign your students to work in a variety of teams. This will help your students learn to interact with their peers—classmates with different viewpoints, strengths, communicative styles, and skills. Working with diverse partners will teach your students the give and take that is essential in any college or career environment.

2. Determine the Scope

Collaborative projects can be limited in time and scope or take a full semester or longer. Students can work in pairs, in small groups, or with all of the students in a given grade or school. Collaborative projects can include face-to-face or virtual interaction through blogs or reviewing and commenting on each other’s work through online platforms, such as Google Docs. A limited project can include a bell ringer that pairs of students complete in under five minutes, or a semester-long or year-long project that involves one grade or the whole school.

3. Identify Learning Goals

Think about what you want your students to learn, and how the collaboration will help them with a skill. Focus on problem solving and communication with others to explore ideas and solutions. Help your students learn to provide suggestions and to listen to others’ recommendations. Make sure that your collaborative projects focus on students learning to communicate more effectively, to feel confident about offering their own opinions, and to realize that they can achieve more with thoughtful, academically productive discussion with their peers.

Getting Started

Try a PiktoTape™ project. PiktoTape™ makes it possible for entire classrooms or the entire school to work collaboratively as they turn any wall—indoor or outdoor—into a canvas. PiktoTape™ projects involve collaboration in making the artwork. They even involve collaboration in removing the work. Learn more about PiktoTape and collaborative art making here.

Collaborating with Other Educators

Remember that collaboration includes your peers as well. Find time to share what you’re doing with your peers and share ideas for how to create high-performance collaborative teams in your school and your community.