Teaching Tolerance’s Collaborative Learning Strategies

One of the foundational aspects of every Humanities class should be “Creative Communication”. This manisfests itself in a lot of different ways: students producing writing, speeches, performances, artworks, music, you-name-it in order to express themselves and their ideas creatively.

However, what we often think about less is how we structure the day-to-day discussion and collaboration so that our students LIVE that kind of creative communication… how will students talk to each other? how will students talk to me, their teachers? how will they “talk back” to the content and to the world on a daily basis? how do we develop the communicative skills in our students so that the outcomes we expect are achieved out of confidence, bravery, and teamwork?

Today’s blog post is directly aligned to our Priority 2 for our content:

STUDENTS ARE ”On the hook” for their learning because they believe that the Humanities matter for their education, are working towards meaningful EOY goals, and have the opportunity to do so in collaboration with their peers BECAUSE TEACHERS ARE Ensuring students are advocating for their content, are motivated by a meaningful EOY goal, and are being given ownership of their own learning by facilitating strong collaborative structures around rigorous content.

Ultimately, this is very much part of our contents – what are we asking our students to actually produce in our classrooms if not this – the actual human interaction? How are we setting students up to “talk back” to the world if not by giving them the structures to talk to each other and learn together?

Our data shows, in fact, that there is a direct correlation between students being more active participants in our classrooms and reaching higher levels of rigor. How can they every analyze if the teacher is always the driver of their learning?

This table shows our classroom's current Culture of Achievement ratings compared to those same classroom's Engagement with Rigorous Content. The correlation between higher COA (and student ownership of learning) and students' ability to reach higher levels of ERC in the Humanities.

This table shows our classroom’s current Culture of Achievement ratings compared to those same classroom’s Engagement with Rigorous Content. The correlation between higher COA (and student ownership of learning) and students’ ability to reach higher levels of ERC in the Humanities.

Most importantly, I believe that without students talking to each other and debating the content they are learning, we set them up to believe that the content is static, and that knowledge comes from a teacher or a textbook. World Languages become another set of rules, Art becomes another set of procedures, History becomes another story written by white, privileged, old people. In order for our classrooms to be truly constructivist, students must be able to engage with in through collaborative learning. We need to remove ourselves as the sole source of power and knowledge in the classroom.

The challenging aspect of this, of course, is that this happens at the nexus of Culture and Rigor in our classrooms. I wrote about this previously in Supporting Student-Student Dialog and Questions and Tasks Worth Collaborating On. However, some fantastic new resources have been made available by Teaching Tolerance in the past couple weeks, so I wanted to share them!

Check them out below… Let me know if you have any success in using them!


2 responses

  1. All of these strategies and more can be found at http://perspectives.tolerance.org

    1. Thank you Sara for commenting! Very excited about all the amazing resources on the Teaching Tolerance and Perspectives websites!

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