THE COLLABORATIVE CLASSROOM: WHAT ABOUT DIGITAL CONNECTIONS?
DO DIGITAL CONNECTIONS WORK?
I recently received an email from Leanna Landsman, a nationally recognized education editor, who writes a weekly column for parents. She asked me to respond to this parent question: “My two teens text constantly. Is there research showing that all those 'LOLs' and grammar shortcuts hurt students’ writing skills? I’d love a reason to make them put down their phones.”
You can find my response inside Landsman's column (the link). But digital devices are blamed for more than poor writing skills! Some say they ruin creativity and communication skills. Do they? WIRED columnist Clive Thompson would beg to disagree. His vetted research shows we are “thinking aloud” to an audience when we use digital devices to communicate. It’s that “audience effect” that not only enhances more communication, but also creativity. “Our ideas are products of our environment. They are influenced by the conversations around us.” Even if they are online!
Here’s a great example of how global connections affected a class who had no computers. (And don’t forget: I could not be sharing this with you, if we weren’t “connected!”
Global Connections Inspire
Proof comes from a poverty-stricken village in Mexico, where teacher Juearez Correa resorted to collaboration in his 5th grade classroom. In desperation, he dumped the “mind-numbingly boring… government-mandated curriculum” and developed a collaborative one. His results were spectacular! You may have heard of one his students, Paloma Noyola Bueno. The American Press dubbed her “the next Steve Jobs.” Read WIRED’s story about Correa and his collaborative classroom!
Collaboration Within CCSS
Correa’s classroom changes did not focus on test prep. He didn’t even know students would be taking a huge assessment. Yet, using collaborative experiences, his kids rose to the top. Yours can, too!
Edutopia is a great site connecting collaboration and CCSS. It has everything! Research! Videos! Lesson plans! Plus, it’s sponsored by the George Lucas Foundation in whose words: “Project-based learning, student teams working cooperatively, children connecting with passionate experts, and broader forms of assessment can dramatically improve student learning.” Yes!
CoolToolsForSchools also offers links to every digital connection that’s out there at this moment. Check it out!
WIRED TO CONNECT
Brain researchers say so. Born with a need to belong? So say psychologists and philosophers. That's why the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) suggest we get serious about helping learners collaboratively navigate the world. CCSS includes social learning as part of the schooling process. They call for us to help students.
Can students also do this online? Can kids connect digitally and accomplish the following CCSS recommendations?
• engage in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners.
• follow agreed-upon rules for large group, small group and partnered discussions.
• elaborate on ideas of others.
• help/teach other students.
• pose and respond to questions.
• participate in shared research.
• use the Internet to produce and publish writing.
• interact and collaborate with others for a variety of purposes.
Will collaboration change the way schools look and feel? Absolutely! Will it be difficult to bring about? You bet! And that is the reason I want to help.
For many years I've worked alongside both students and teachers to bring more student-to-student interaction and realistic response behaviors into classrooms. My books, articles, and workshops focus on helping teachers implement spoken and written response strategies in collaborative classrooms. Find links to my work on this website's Contact page.
...will offer tips that help build more collaborative classroom communities. We'll analyze spoken response by watching and listening to some real conversations or interactions. For written response, we'll look at the structure of real spoken and written responses. Read on...