PD Discussion: Collaboration and Plugged Classroom


What are some specific examples of teaching strategies or class activities you do in your class to create a culture of collaboration among your students as they are working on the computers?.

When we are learning something new, I have two students share one computer. This forces them to discuss what they are doing. One person is the “driver,” and types in the commands, and the other person is the “navigator,” who tells the driver what to do. This works well as they work together to figure out how to complete a challenge with that encompasses a new concept. Also, I do very little direct instruction and even less “helping” in class. If a student is having trouble, I usually ask a student to who understands what is going on to be the helper. If the class is having trouble with a concept, I will stop class and step in to clarify, and then ask students for their ideas about how to solve the problem that they are having. I also encourage sharing. Sometimes this is very difficult for middle school aged students to do because they have been taught that sharing is cheating. In our class the only time it is illegal to share is during a test.


At this point in the class the students really like working together. The HTML unit really encouraged this. When someone gets stuck, they know another student can help them if I’m not available.



I found it helpful to find students strengths and have them as the “go to”. Some of my students are really into the artistic side and fonts with Google Fonts, so I brought up their page, had them discuss their choices and now students want to meet with them for help on their own side! The ownership students take is amazing!



Collaboration in my classroom is seen in small group setups. Students work together in pairs, quads, or small groups to work together in a project. Roles and task are given to each group and distributed among each member.


Collaboration is a must for me. Students need to feel comfortable and I think by sharing in small groups, they are able to accomplish this. No one is put on the spot! As a teacher, I know who is “getting” it an who is not. I let the students choose their own groups at the beginning but then I do it randomly after that. We don’t want friends always being together. Learning from others is the key. Some students are natural leaders and others just need a little nudge.

I work with Carol Guerin with her Oracle class and having the 2 levels in the room at the same time is awesome. As she stated, we are able to have Oracle 2 students take the lead with the Oracle 1 students. The students love it!


When developing lesson plans I keep a list of instructional strategies handy or peruse the web for a new idea. These are two instructional strategies that I use often once we have delved into a lesson. I also walk around the room and “eaves drop” on the conversations that are taking place among group members. I will at time seat with a group and ask questions like I am a member of the group for reinforcement of how the task should be carried out. I try to pair students with different abilities together.

  1. Think‐Pair‐Share - The learning activity involves explaining answers/ideas to another student. The instructor poses a question to the class. Students write a response and then share it with a student nearby. Students clarify their positions and discuss points of agreement and disagreement. The instructor can use several answers to illustrate important points or facilitate a whole class discussion.
    -. Instructor poses question to class
    -. Students write a response (1‐2 minutes)
    -. Students pair up with another student nearby
    -. Each student explains his/her response to the other
    -. If they disagree, each clarifies his/her position and determine how/why they disagree

Why use it?
-. Keep students engaged in large classes
-. Prime students for whole class discussion
-. Target key concepts for review
-. Enhance students’ metacognition—they become more aware of gaps in their thinking
-. Student responses are feedback to the instructor about how they are making sense of the material.

2 Group Writing Assignments -The learning activity involves collaborative work that culminates in a group‐authored document. Assign groups to write (and submit) Wikipedia entries on course‐related topics or create study guides for the course.
-. Use a wiki, Google Docs, or Office Live for collaborative writing
-. Use assignment that has authentic purpose and audience such as creating Wikipedia entries or study guides for the course
-. Establish guidelines to scaffold the process

Why use it?
-. Use writing‐to‐learn to help students develop and revise ideas
-. Students have opportunities to see how other students view the same topic
-. An assignment with an authentic purpose and audience can increase students’ interest and commitment.


We use large sticky paper in class - students write what they would like to learn from the topic.
We use an I Can Statement: I can read printed data by: Reading, Recalling and Comprehending–we understand the Comprehension requires ACTION inorder to obtain knowledge.
Catch Up is used to compare notes–this way all students have the correct notes when compared


I encourage collaboration by pairing students up so they can discuss ideas in pairs or small groups and work together to explore ideas and solve problems. I also ask that if students / groups learn something new, that they share it with the entire class. When they share something that they discovered, we all benefit and many times, it is something I didn’t even know (I am no computer / programing expert), so they feel very accomplished and motivated to continue collaborating to learn and share new things.


As students are working, I monitor to see who are the “experts” and who needs help. I help students, but also call on the “experts” to help their classmates. This accomplishes two purposes: first, it cuts the wait time for students needing help. Second, it makes the expert feel needed.


After presenting the lesson and ensuring they have a basic grasp of what is being asked of them, I’ll pair students up and let them get to work. I use the driver/copilot method where the students take turns running the show. I can roam the room while this is happening, or utilize LanSchool and watch from my computer.

Some assigned work (like the HTML final project) is individualized, and I have student helpers (who really understand what is going on) assist others as needed. I call them “Customer Service Reps” - I report out that customer service is needed on “Aisle 1, 2, or 3” (corresponding to my row seating) and they assist other students. When a CSR can’t help, they call in for “Supervisor” assistance from me. :slight_smile:


defnitely roam the room alot. Let the students help eachother. Surprisingly you will find you most stsruggling students be really good teachers. Build their confidence and helps you out.


I break projects into well defined tasks and explain the relationship among the tasks to the students. The students are then broken into groups and I let them decide among themselves how to split up the tasks among the group members. This is only meant as a guide. If the group members wish to do it differently that’s fine. I’ll just check on all groups to make sure that they’re pursuing a workable plan.


I encourage students working together especially on subjects where I do not feel as confident as I should be in. My kids pick up on things very quickly and by the end of our first lesson I already had two students who became my “experts” in the class. When other students had issues or questions, these students were able to help them out and explain why it would work that way. When they collaborate together, many students feel like their the teacher and are getting more out of each lesson this way.


I really like the driver-navigator structure. I have pairs of students share a computer and implement driver-navigator so that they are constantly communicating their learning to each other and collaborating to come up with solutions, ideas, and products


@michele_widener I think it is great to have students use the driver-navigator structure and link back to the computational practices of communication, collaboration, designing creative solutions and analyzing the work of others.


A strategy that I use in my classroom is before is to introduce materials to students away from the computers. If it is a group activity, they have to strategize and map out their assignment before they can get on the computer.


In my classroom, I allow students to work in pairs or even groups of three. I have also had my stronger students act as project managers. Instead of raising their hands, my students have paper towel tubes painted red and the word HELP on it. They are instructed to place these on top of their monitors when they need assistance. My classroom has a culture of collaboration whereby students are encouraged to help anyone that has one of these up. Works very well.


The link is somewhat relevant to this question.

To add to it, I utilize the grouping structure of Google Classroom and allow whenever I can, students to choose their projects and group members.


One way to encourage collaboration by working the room and setting the tone by building a community relationship. Also, I tell students at the beginning of the semester that we change seats every four weeks so we can get to know one another better. I remind students to be an inclusive community, leaving no man/woman out. And lastly, when needed, I pair struggling students with strong students.


FYI-the link to Seven Norms of Collaboration is not working.