Why do many students prefer to work with a partner or small group?
Why do students enjoy sharing what they have learned with a friend?
Why do children appreciate having time to turn to a partner and talk?
While some students may prefer to work independently if given the choice, I have found that most of my fourth grade students enjoy sitting with classmates, working on projects together, and helping one another solve problems.
Why not harness this social learning desire by allowing our students to work together and collaborate? Here are some of the best reasons:
*Student collaboration allows students to practice accountable talk. Learning to agree and disagree with reasons allows students to learn that there isn't just one right way to think. In addition, listening and responding can help students appreciate a variety of ideas or add more to the conversation.
*Student collaboration can help students learn to work together with others that have different strengths and abilities. In order to appreciate one another, it's important to have opportunities to work together during which each student is required to do their part. This also fosters dependency, trust, and a sense of teamwork.
*Student collaboration can give students a chance to try things that they might not have the desire or idea to do by themselves. With the support of classmates and the joining together of a collection of ideas, students can solve problems or create projects that lead to solutions and new learning.
These reasons for the importance of student collaboration show that learning in a social way is not only preferred by many students but also an excellent approach to enhancing their ability to work together to learn.
I believe in the power of students working together for common goals. It may not be traditional, but this year is the first year that I am starting out the first day of school with students in a small group seating arrangement. It's time to let go of the "row."