Pandemic teaching has changed the way we all teach, probably forever. We jumped into using all of the technology, including Google Meets, Zoom, and learned a whole new way of teaching our children. Now that schools are back in person, but socially distanced, how do we go about getting students to collaborate? Collaboration is an intricate part of school and builds the skills of communication, understanding how to work as a team, and allows students to navigate appropriate social interactions. It allows for opinions to be heard and encourages discussions that lead to more success. Collaboration does not have to disappear because of social distancing! Here are 5 ideas to keep the passion for collaboration going in your classroom today!
1. Find Unique Spaces
Using outside spaces or even the gym are going to be larger areas where students can spread out in groups for collaboration. The students will love being able to travel the building or be outside to learn! Students can sit 3 feet apart, close enough to talk, and other groups can be further from them, allowing everyone the distance to concentrate and take part effectively within their own group!
Both outside spaces and the gym allow for the space you need! The cafeteria, if it isn’t lunch time, would be another option too! Students will love the unique opportunity and jump right into the collaboration!
2. Gallery Walk
If finding a space for students to sit together distanced isn’t possible, try a gallery walk! This simple idea allows for students to present their work to their classmates, or examine different texts, or documents. Classmates give feedback and respond to one another. Typically, a gallery walk is set up by hanging student work or the documents around a classroom, but in this case, for more space, use the hallway!
Hallways are normally empty during class time and much easier than trying to reserve a gym or outside space! You can socially distance, use post-its to leave a comment or feedback or a question for their classmates, giving the opportunity to collaborate in a safe, distanced fashion! This could work with the youngest students! Younger students could have preprinted emojis to help them respond with smiles, question marks, or preprinted comments. Students can also draw pictures in response to their classmates’ work or the texts presented. If you would rather go the verbal route, have students say aloud their thoughts as they walk through and if you are in a hallway, there is plenty of room! A great way to display writing pieces and give other students the opportunity to read others!
Of course, being able to find unique spaces, even the hallway, isn’t always workable for every teacher or school, so use technology! Problem solved! We have all become experts in the world of Google Meets or Zoom from the pandemic, so use these platforms for some collaboration! Students don’t have to leave their seats, and they can talk to anyone in the room! Throw on some headphones and use the chat feature and students will be off and running.
Another option for collaboration using technology is Google Jamboard, which is an interactive whiteboard that everyone can contribute to at the same time. They can use google Jamboard for every subject and you can even find some great templates to use! Use it for place value practice, magnetic letters, or labeling a diagram for science. Students can easily work collaboratively, adding ideas and responding to others simply. This is also great for warm-ups and exit tickets!
Another tech tool to use collaboration is Google Slides or Google Docs. Share a document and students can easily work together on the same document or slides using the comment feature to give each other ideas and feedback.
Flipgrid is also a wonderful interactive platform that allows for students to collaborate and it is free! This website allows students to create video responses and share them with their classmates. Students can watch their classmates’ videos and respond to them! This would be a great way for students to do presentations, show and tell, or even respond to a journal prompt. One of the biggest recent updates to FlipGrid is the ability to incorporate your Google Meet or other video conferencing tool with FlipGrid. This gives the teacher the ability to create the FlipGrid assignment, to lead students in their collaboration, but also allows students to work together to complete the task together!
Polling is another great way to have students collaborate on a topic. Polls could literally be about anything, and gives every student a voice in the classroom. Students could vote in the poll and share aloud the reasons for their choice. Polleverywhere.com is a great, free website that is quick and easy to use for polls. You can do multiple choice, cloud responses, or even ask map questions! This is another great way to include all the voices in your classroom and do it anonymously, allowing reluctant or shy learners to also participate!
So, you can’t get the extra outdoor spaces, and technology doesn’t work for you? Try pairs. This is still absolutely a collaboration! Students can collaborate with the person closest to them. Your entire class of students could work on a task, listening, talking, deciding and helping one another come to dynamic conclusions on various tasks without ever moving from their seats! Pairs could easily solve this pandemic problem of collaboration! If you are comfortable, combine this with technology and you could have an even better solution.
5. Four Corners
If your classroom has the space for a rug, use the four corners to keep students distanced and students can sit together on the floor. This could also work with carpet squares. As long as they stay in their corner, they can work together, but remain distanced. Using what we already have is another solution to increasing collaboration during the pandemic.
Social distancing should not be the end of collaboration for our scholars. Collaboration is too important to lose it to the pandemic! Use some of these different ideas to get your students working together and sharing ideas in no time! Socially distanced collaboration- no problem!