Collaborative learning is one of the greatest ways for teachers to really see who their students are as learners. It is one of the best parts of my day when I get to see my students working together. The ideas they can come up with when they are set free can be inspiring.
“Cooperative learning is not so much learning to cooperative as it is cooperating to learn ( Wong & Wong, 1998)” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, Malenoski, 2007).
Technology has given us so many tools to enhance collaborative learning in our classroom. I have loved making videos since I was in school so I naturally brought that into my classroom. I have a Flip video camera for my classroom that we use all of the time. Instead of writing a report or taking a test over a story, a great way to assess your students is to have them create a video. They can reenact the story, make a commercial summary of the story, make a talk show, etc. Once you make a video using whatever video editing program you have (Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Adobe Premier, etc.), you can upload the video to youtube or Google Video and share your students creations with anyone!
Another great collaborative tool is Google Docs. All you need is a gmail account to create and share documents. It has a feature that you can edit a project and chat live with the people you have shared it with. Google Docs also includes Google Sites where you can create a class website or have your students create their own websites. Here is an example of a Google Site:https://sites.google.com/a/jgsc.k12.in.us/mrs-holland-s-class/
VoiceThread is fantastic tool that let’s the students collaborate with people around the world. You can upload pictures, videos or presentations and narrate or comment over them. People can use their phones, a webcam or a microphone to comment. Here is an example of a VT my students did this week on Fire Prevention :http://voicethread.com/share/2299633/
There are many tools out there that will encourage collaboration amongst your students. If you have an idea, please share!
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.