Collaboration is a skill necessary not only for college and career readiness, but also for day-to-day learning in a project-based and student-centered classroom. Facilitators should remember that collaborative skills must be intentionally scaffolded through teaching and practice before being assessed.
With the right scaffolds in place, our youngest learners can learn to collaborate within and alongside projects. To help students learn collaboration skills, it is critical that we model and reinforce active listening, setting and revisiting class norms, and lead reflection to help them debrief on their strengths and challenges when working collaboratively.
Indicators of Collaborative Skills
Collaboration is actually a set of skills, behaviors, and ways of thinking. These skill indicators are outlined in the NTN Collaboration Rubrics available for elementary, middle, and high school students. Teachers can use each skill indicator to define and describe collaborative skills in their classrooms.
- Tip: choose 1-2 skills from the NTN Collaboration Rubric to focus on in each project.
- Tip: create student-friendly versions of these rubrics to make the language more accessible to students; check out the NTN Student-Facing 2nd Grade Collaboration Rubric for an example, or see the student-facing rubric template in the NTN Elementary Project Planning Toolkit to design your own.
Collaboration starts with Culture
- The foundation of successful collaboration is strong classroom culture. Particularly with our elementary students, we need to explicitly name, model, and reflect as a group so that students can learn to use these tools both independently and with support. Teachers can utilize student-centered culture practices to set the stage for learning to work together. Here are a few practices from the NTN Culture Practices Card Set that help build a culture for collaboration:
- Collaborative Agreement-Making
- Community Circles
- Rituals and Routines
Structures for Student Collaboration
Teachers can utilize student-centered practices and protocols to structure student collaboration. Here are a few great practices from the NTN Learner-Centered Practices Toolkit that you can try:
- Think Pair Share