The “4 Cs”, as they are referred to in education and this blog post, are communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. This blog post is the first of three relating to the “4 Cs”, and will focus on integrating communication and collaboration in the classroom.
I chose to combine communication and collaboration in this first blog post, as I believe that they are closely related to one another. In my opinion, collaboration is simply an extension and development of communication.
The first step in implementing communication within the classroom is establishing a classroom community where students feel comfortable sharing and engaging with one another. Students who do not feel comfortable or do not feel that their opinions are heard and respected are unlikely to engage with their classmates or their teachers.
Once this classroom community is established, it is necessary to model how to communicate effectively. This step is extremely important, because if students do not know how to effectively communicate, then implementing the “4 Cs” in the classroom is futile. At this time, teachers should model active listening, as well as asking good questions. Students should also learn how to respectively disagree with others during classroom discussions. By being able to listen actively, ask good questions, and respectively share their opinions, students are ready to communicate with each other.
There are a number of different ways that communication and collaboration can be integrated into classroom instruction. These methods range from ones that can be done on a daily basis to ones that might take longer to implement.
Turn-and-talk – Students can turn-and-talk with a partner as a part of everyday instruction. Teacher guides student partners by asking class the same question, then partner teams share their thoughts with partner before sharing with the whole class.
Socratic or Paideia Seminars – Students participate in academic conversations about a given piece (text, art, music). Teacher serves as facilitator, asking questions. Students think in-depth about question before answering. Students share their thoughts freely and openly.
Group Projects – Students can work on group projects in learning teams. When working on projects, students work together to create a collaborative end product. It is important for students working on group projects to set rules and guidelines. Student groups should also create jobs for each team member to ensure that all team members are doing the same amount of the work.
Literature Circles – When participating in literature circles, students read an assigned text. They then discuss the text they have read.
Virtual Literature Circles– Virtual Literature Circles are similar to in person literature circles. However, unlike in live literature circles, students can use websites such as Gaggle to share their thoughts or understanding.
Padlet – Teachers, or students, can create a Padlet and ask a question or share a statement. Other group members can post their responses to the question.
How do YOU integrate communication and collaboration within your classroom?
Raegan Cassady is a second grade Learning Immersion teacher at Irwin Academic Center. Mrs. Cassady believes that all of us are lifelong learners and that the only way to get better at what you do is to learn more about it. Mrs. Cassady has a Masters in Reading and is working towards her AIG Certification. You can find Mrs. Cassady in the Twitterverse @mrs_cassady or on her website .