Inspiring Thinking Through Collaboration
As professional developers, the real issue we face is helping educators understand WHY it is important to teach students to engage with one another socially. We want teachers to understand the true power of collaboration—the importance of collaboration is thinking. There is a real academic reason to work together, not just a social need. Learning occurs when we have the opportunity to think WITH others.
I had the opportunity to help teachers think through how talk helps kids academically the other day. We began by reading a chapter from Peter Brunn’s Lesson Planning Handbook that addresses the importance of having both an academic and a social goal in your lesson as well as ways to incorporate that goal into your plans.
We then looked at a successful lesson that already had very effective social goals. We discussed what they noticed in this lesson:
- Why were social goals included in that particular place?
- What kind of thinking were students engaging in?
- How does the collaboration push student thinking?
We discovered that collaboration is much more successful when students are struggling with a meaty, complex idea. Thoughtful collaboration is NOT outlining a chapter together or filling-in-the-blanks with a friend.
We then brainstormed the skills students needed to practice more frequently in order to become more successful collaborators. Here are some examples:
In The Lesson Planning Handbook, Peter writes:
I have talked a great deal about the need to be intentional—about our academic objectives as well as our social ones. These intentional steps make the difference between lessons that shine with the brilliance of student thinking and ones that are void of imagination. It is our choice. We do make the difference.
How are you intentional about social objectives in your lesson planning?