“Remember when we did everything we could to avoid eye contact with the teacher so we wouldn’t be put in a group with students we didn’t want to work with? To me, that was collaborative learning—avoidance.
As a teacher, I was reluctant to try collaborative learning. My first year of teaching was awkward because I was hired after the first quarter was over. I tried desperately to get my middle school history classes caught up, which was a challenge on its own. I was new, a little scared, and didn’t want to give up control. As an experienced teacher, I turned to collaborative work at any opportunity. One of my favorite strategies was conducting simulations. I found any excuse to try one. Simulating a cattle drive with balled up newspapers (cattle), brooms, and hockey sticks (to drive the cattle)? Sure, why not? An Ellis Island simulation where students act as immigration officials? What could possibly go wrong? History was perfect for experimenting with collaborative learning because it gave the students the latitude to voice their opinions and guided them into problem solving creatively. The “real world” lessons were real. It’s powerful to ask a group of 12-year-olds what they would do in a situation like the Bay of Pigs or the Cuban Missile Crisis before telling them that it was a major world event.” To read further please click here: