Month: October 2017

Three Qualities of Successful Student Collaboration

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student collaborationA classroom environment that allows for collaborative grouping produces significant learning gains. Larissa Pahomov, author of the book Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, identifies the following three qualities of successful student collaboration (pp. 64-68). Successful collaborations are:

  1. Documented: Successful collaborations require that the contributions of each member be documented. Far too often great ideas come from collaboration and are lost because they were not documented. Assigning a student the role of scribe will help provide a record of the work being done.
  2. Asynchronous: Successful collaborations require times of group work and times of individual work. Both are critical to the collaborative process.
  3. Classroom-based: Successful collaborations require face-to-face interaction. As much as we rely on technology to make our lives more efficient, it is not an effective replacement for person-to-person time that leads to creativity and problem solving.

Collaboration requires considerable planning if it is to produce significant results. When you plan for collaborative time in your classroom, keep in mind that students need face-to-face time, time away from each other in the process, and documentation of the contributions made by group members. Your students will benefit from your work and will learn and grown together.

Student Collaboration in Inquiry-based Learning

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collaborationStudent collaboration is a powerful tool for learning.  Larissa Pahomov, author of the book Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, provides the following framework for student collaboration in the classroom (pp. 68-78):

  1. Spend time on the set-up. Planning is essential to successful student collaboration. Establish ground rules and protocols for student collaboration and review them regularly.
  2. Model collaboration on a daily basis.       Arrange the classroom so that students have the opportunity to work with one another in a collaborative manner a little each day.
  3. Monitor progress and allow students to police themselves. Keep your finger on the pulse of the groups, so that you know if they are functioning at a healthy level. Create opportunities for students to also monitor their own progress and share their concerns with group members or you.
  4. Connect beyond the classroom. Encourage students to meet outside of the classroom in face-to-face gatherings or in some electronic meeting form.

Keep this framework in mind as you plan for student collaboration in your classroom next week. You will find that students enjoy the collaborative environment and learn much!

Student Research in Inquiry-based Learning

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researchStudent research is a vital part of inquiry-based learning. Larissa Pahomov, author of the book Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, identifies the following three qualities that must be present in student research if genuine inquiry and learning are to occur (pp. 42-46):

  1. Autonomy – Students need to have some choice in what they research, how they research, and how they share the results of their research.
  2. Activity – Students need to have a variety of activity levels throughout their research. They need opportunities to engage information, whether through text, image, or some performance medium.
  3. Metacognition – Students need the opportunity to look within themselves and reflect upon their own learning and growth throughout the inquiry process.

As you are planning for instruction, include opportunities for autonomy, activity, and metacognition. Students will engage content in meaningful ways and learn much. You will engage content in meaningful ways and learn much, too!

Questioning Is Only The Tip Of The Iceberg

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icebergOn the surface, inquiry appears to involve the asking of questions and the seeking of information from which to make some response. Larissa Pahomov, author of the book Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, indicates that questioning is only “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to inquiry (p. 18). Pahomov indicates that inquiry in the classroom should also include:

  1. Choice – Choice is necessary for personal and educational fulfillment. Students should have some choice in the questions they pursue and in how they find answers, and one of those options should include technology.
  2. Personalization – While there has been a tremendous movement toward standardization in the educational environment, learning remains a very personal endeavor. In the inquiry process, students need the opportunity to personalize using whatever means may be available.
  3. Relevance – Students will gain the most from real experiences that can be translated into practical applications.
  4. Empowerment – Students need some sense of control in their learning environment. They need the freedom to explore their own questions and pursue knowledge that is both interesting and useful for their development.
  5. Care – Respect for students, for their interests, and for their abilities demonstrates care. When such respect is present, students are free to learn and grown.

As you are planning for next week, include choice, personalization, and relevance in your content. Empower your students to learn and demonstrate respect for them in the process. They will find much success and you will find much joy in your work.