The tech team at Liberty Oaks Elementary has been focusing our work this school year on collaboration. We spent the first semester learning about collaboration and starting the conversation about what our staff needs to deepen student collaboration. At first, there was some uncertainty about why the tech team was doing this work. It makes sense, though, when you consider that we’re shifting from tech integration to 21st century skills embedded into our instruction. Our focus isn’t simply on using technology, but using technology as a tool to help our learners.
Through collaboration, we are improving our instructional framework to develop student agency. And we use technology as a tool to help our learners collaborate. Technology is our means, not the end goal.
The definition we’ve chosen to use for our school comes from the P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning: Working together to reach a goal – putting talent, expertise, and smarts to work.
In working together to reach a goal, there are two overarching, essential factors for success: the environment and skills.
After defining collaboration, we started brainstorming with these guiding questions:
- What does collaboration look like in our classrooms?
- How does our classroom environment facilitate collaboration?
- What skills do learners need in order to collaborate with each other successfully?
- What does collaboration look like at each grade level?
We’ve thought through roadblocks to our environment, which includes time, space, and mindset, as well as what skills are necessary from both the perspectives of our students and our teachers. The tech team recently shared this information with the rest of our staff for the purpose of communicating our learning and gathering feedback.
Our next step is to share this work with students, having the common definition used in all classrooms, and to develop a collaboration rubric to be utilized in 2016-2017. It’s been (and will continue to be) a collaborative process to clearly define, embrace, and embed collaboration at Liberty Oaks.