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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Oh my goodness! I have never taught my kids to collaborate.

As a member of my school's AVID site team, I put a great deal of emphasis on the WICOR strategies in my classroom and lessons:

I can guarantee that I explicitly teach WICOR strategies. While reading Peter H.
Johnston's Choice Words, however, I realized that I am not doing a very good job at truly teaching my students how to collaborate. Johnston writes, "Even when they work in groups, [students] rarely work as a group, sharing ideas and working toward a common goal" (65). 

This really caught my attention. Do I really think my eighth graders know how to do this? We usually get there, but I am very aware that I have left out critical information regarding this process, and in order for my students to truly participate in group activities, I need to do a much better job if my students are going to "have some shared understanding of the situation and activity in which they are jointly engaged" (65). 

So time for a new approach to collaboration, especially with a new state teacher assessment beginning this year that focuses heavily on student-centered learning. From now on, when my students are going to be engaged in group activities, there will be a discussion ahead of time focused on the work to be done:

Classes do not start for two more weeks, so I do not know how this approach will work until I try it out. It is a small component, but I have a feeling it may pay off with huge dividends. More to come once we get started.