Creating a Collaborative Classroom

In the CDP program, partner and small group learning activities were designed not only to foster student’s academic learning but also to build the important life skill of working with others in fair, kind, and productive ways. Consistent with the Common Core Standards, all of the videos below provide examples of classroom activities in which elementary students learn to work cooperatively and engage “in real, substantive discussions that require them to respond directly to the ideas of their peers.” (Coleman & Pimentel, 2012, p.9)

To support teachers in this approach to collaborative learning, the CDP staff created Blueprints for a Collaborative Classroom, a resource containing 25 designs for partner and small group work and 250 activity suggestions suitable for use across the curriculum. This resource can be ordered from DSC at http://www.devstu.org.

Home Alone

Home Alone

This video shows students in a second-third grade full inclusion class in Louisville, Kentucky working in partnerships while they participate in a reading and writing activity related to the book Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner. When problems occur with working together, the teacher guides the class in a discussion of how to resolve conflicts.

Mind Mapping the Ocean

Mind Mapping the Ocean

At the beginning of a science unit, the students in this bilingual third-grade class work in small groups to complete a mind map about what they already know about the ocean. The students are invited to write their ideas in English, Spanish, or both languages, share how they made decisions, and present their mind maps to the rest of the class.

Pretending with Little Bear

Pretending with Little Bear

In groups of four, first grade students in Cupertino, California engage in a collaborative reading, writing, and editing lesson based on “Little Bear Goes to the Moon” from the book Little Bear by Elsa Minark.

What the Owl Ate

What the Owl Ate

A fourth grade class in Louisville, Kentucky works in small collaborative groups to examine owl pellets and infer what the owl must have eaten.

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