Much to my surprise, I actually learned several different activities that I could take back to my classroom to do just that...teach my students to collaborate and working together using meaningful and engaging activities!
This activity can be used in different ways, but the gist is that you assign students to a small group of 3 to 4. Each group should have a sticky note pad to record their ideas.
If you are starting a new unit of study on plants and want a new and unique way to figure out what your students know or want to know, post pictures or topic ideas around the room or at different groups. Have students discuss the picture or topic idea and add what they know about that topic to the chart. If it is a photograph of something, students can add their wonderings or questions to the sticky notes.
The groups will then rotate to the next topic or picture and read the ideas that have already been added. The groups discuss their new topic/idea and add their knowledge and questions to the chart. The rotation continues until each group has visited each poster or picture and added their input.
I love this activity because it allows students to play the different roles of student and teacher.
For this activity, you will assign each group member (the number will depend on the number of topics you have for students to read) a specific topic that they will be responsible for reading. The students will then pick out the key ideas about their topics and record those on their charts.
After each student reads and records the required information about their topic, they will share their information with their groups. Their group members will take turns listening and recording notes for each group members topic on their charts.
To close the activity, the teacher will have each group share all of their information on a class chart. Whatever important information may be missing from some groups can be added to their individual charts.
I love this note taking idea because everyone takes ownership and at the end of the activity, you can still make sure all of the groups have the appropriate information in their charts.
Each group reads their assigned problem or topic. As a group, the members will add a strategy to solve or argument for whether or not they agree or disagree and why. Groups then travel the room to each problem and see which strategies/arguments have already been added. Each group must then come up with a different strategy/argument to add to each scenario.
Once all of the groups have read the entire room, they will go back to where they started. One person in the group will share out the different strategies/arguments that were listed on their scenario.
For this activity, you will need to have students take a piece of paper and divide it 9, 12, or 16 sections (really, it's up to you...)
For whatever topic you are studying, have students start by listing three things they already know about it. You could also have them list questions or wonderings. After they have listed what they already know, have students mingle around the room and give one new idea to someone else and get one new idea from that person before moving on to another student. Once their chart is full, students return to their seat.
You can adapt this for math as well...decomposing numbers, problem solving strategies, different ways to write numbers, etc.
For this activity, you will want to line your students up around the room in a large semi circle. Then, have them number off 1 to 3 or 1 to 4, depending on your room size and number of questions you have planned for the activity.
Once students are numbered off, turn to the people standing next to them. So the first 1 through 3 numbered off students will turn and group, the next 1 through 3 numbered off group will turn to each other.
Display a question on the board and have those groups discuss their thoughts. After a few minutes of discussion, have all of the number 1's move to the next group in the line and share the answer their last group discussed. Then, display a new question for the new groups to discuss and repeat!
I hope you been able to take something away from this post! Collaboration is an important part of teaching and learning and these activities are unique and meaningful ways to get students to work together while learning.
I would love to hear any ways that you could adapt and use these activities in your classroom! Please comment and share below!