Collaborative learning: fostering positive interdependence

As a general aspect of my teaching practice, I group the students in the class into teams and let them work within the same team for one semester. The idea is to put together kids with various abilities, needs, and temperaments in an effort to encourage and support their collaborative learning through interaction and interdependence. Being an advocate of the collaborative construction of knowledge, I often utilize different grouping strategies using a variety of learning activities.

Once assigned into teams, kids are provided with the theme and given the first letter of their team name. The, everyone gets down to business and conducts desk and field research to gather 4 options for the name of the team. Last, the team sits down together, discusses, and votes for the best name. Once the name is agreed upon, kids make their poster/flag.

Team Fruits and Vegetables A-D – Avocado, Broccoli, Cocoa, Dragon Fruit

Team Countries E-H Ethiopia, Fiji, Guayana, Honduras

Team ‘Favorite Class’ – Caterpillars, Ladybugs, Honeybees, Butterflies

At the end of the school year I took the time to personally and individually interview every students in order to gather the information needed for analyzing the effectiveness of the grouping. Kids were asked to indicate one of the three teams they enjoyed the most.

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