A Checklist for Collaboration

Peters, Lauren



I found this interesting article on the practicalities of collaboration.  As a former airline pilot, I am naturally attracted to checklists.  This is a sketch of her list.  An expanded version can be found on the link above.

20 Collaborative Learning Tips And Strategies For Teachers

by Miriam Clifford
1. Establish group goals
2. Keep groups midsized
3. Establish flexible group norms
4. Build trust and promote open communication
5. For larger tasks, create group roles
6. Create a pre-test and post-test
7. Consider the learning process itself as part of assessment
8. Consider using different strategies, like the Jigsaw technique.
9. Allow groups to reduce anxiety
10. Establish group interactions
Task functions include:
Initiating Discussions
Clarifying points
Challenging assumptions/devil’s advocate
Providing or researching information
Reaching a consensus
Maintenance involves the harmony and emotional well-being of a group. Maintenance includes roles such as sensing group feelings, harmonizing, compromising and encouraging, time-keeping, relieving tension, bringing people into discussion, and ore.
11. Use a real world problems
12. Focus on enhancing problem-solving and critical thinking skills
Mark Alexander explains one generally accepted problem-solving procedure:
Identify the objective
Set criteria or goals
Gather data
Generate options or courses of action
Evaluate the options using data and objectives
Reach a decision
Implement the decision
13. Keep in mind the diversity of groups
14. Groups with an equal number of boys and girls are best
15. Use scaffolding or diminished responsibility as students begin to understand concepts.
16. Include different types of learning scenarios
17. Technology makes collaborative learning easier
18. Keep in mind the critics
19. Be wary of “group think”

20. Value diversity

Visual and Media Literacy: Essential Components In A 21st Century Education

Bullard, Sherrie


Baker, F. W. (2009). Visual and Media Literacy: Essential Components in a 21st Century Education. Florida Media Quarterly, 35(1), 18-19.


The article focuses on the significance of media and visual literacy as vital components of education in the 21st century in the U.S. It notes that the annual curriculum skills maps of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills focus on geometry and science. The maps offer recommendations for media and information literacy. It points out that many educators point out that their teaching standards have not reached rapid changes in technology and media.


I agree with the author, that the standards cannot keep up with the rapid changes in technology and media. The author created the Media Literacy Clearinghouse web site (www.frankwbaker.com) because he wanted to provide educators clear and relevant examples of how media literacy could be incorporated into instruction. The web site includes readings, recommended texts, links to streaming videos, lesson plans and much more.

A Collaborative Approach to Implementing 21st Century Skills In A High School Senior Research Class

Bullard, Sherrie

O’Sullivan, M. K., & Dallas, K. B. (2010). A Collaborative approach to implementing 21st Century skills in a High school senior research class. Education Libraries, 33(1), 3-9.

In this article the authors discuss that businesses and higher education leaders are looking for students with the ability to evaluate and analyze information and to use this information to solve real-world problems. These are the information literacy skills students need for the 21st century. However, several recent studies on the ability of college freshmen to handle the rigor of college courses and research indicate that high school students are not being adequately prepared to apply these skills. The authors provide a case study of a collaborative effort between an English teacher and the high school librarian to better prepare high school seniors on how to locate reliable information, analyze the information and then determine how it can be applied to solving a real world issue or problem.
This article focuses on how a high school research paper class, as an example, can be designed and structured to give high school seniors an opportunity to experience what college level research and writing involves.
High school students need to be taught these sophisticated “higher-order” skills, such as the ability to locate and analyze complex information in order to solve real world problems.


This class is not just about writing a longer research paper (10 to 15 pages). The intent of this class is to introduce high school seniors to what it is like to search a subject in depth, to formulate research questions and develop curiosities that go beyond the basic facts of a topic. By breaking the research paper process into a series of steps with individual, specific due dates, the teacher has been able to stress the importance of time management and developing effective work habits. These skill, in addition to the research skills involved, are critical for seniors as they prepare to make the transition to college. They also use the teacher librarian to help teach these skills. It’s like they took a “Bird Unit” and turned it into a “Big Think”!

Problems with Race to the Top

Race to the Top Leaves Children and Future Citizens Behind:
The Devastating Effects of Centralization, Standardization, and High Stakes Accountability
by Joe Onosko
While researching Race to the Top and Common Core, I found this interesting article from the Democracy in Education Journal.  It gives eight reasons why he thinks RTT is a bad idea.  I was more interested in those who he thought would benefit from a more centralized, nationally controlled, standardized system, with enormous financial benefit to those participating. [Otherwise known as “if you clean your room you can have a cookie”]
Here is the list of potential beneficiaries: 
·         Those genuinely committed to equality of educational opportunity and who believe that only a centralized, federal plan can move the nation in this direction.
·         Those who believe more competition is needed to improve public schools, necessitating grant competitions (rather than proportional funding), national testing, and high- stakes accountability.
·         Dominant players in the educational assessment industry who see a whole lot of profi t potential.  
·         Corporate America, which spends billions a year on employee training and hopes to reduce a portion of their training costs through a better education system.
·         Those who believe that hierarchical, rational organization (including the power of technology, centralization, standardization, input/output models, quantitative data, and so on) is the best way to improve student achievement.
·         Cash-strapped governors and state department of education leaders who see Race to the Top as the only way to access millions of dollars in desperately needed revenue.
·         Free marketers and other charter- school proponents who’d like to see a partial or complete dismantling of public education by demonstrating the superiority of charters.
I was fine with the list until the last one:  charter schools.  I think public school education as it stands today is fine with much room for improvement.  But there are many who don’t fit well into a public school.  Public Charter schools, run well, fit this niche.  Both of my sons would have failed miserably at the public schools in my area.  Private schools weren’t an option financially – and I didn’t see much improvement in education for the money.  Both of my sons have flourished at public charter schools – first with a Montessori – themed K-8, and now at a College Prep, STEM-focused high school.

SAMR – taking it to the next level

Lauren Peters

IL – 21st Century Skills
SAMR Model
SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. It is all about using technology while teaching.  The goal is to use technology to enhance the learning process.  Redefinition is the goal, so I will include it here.
Redefintion:  Computer technology allows for new tasks that were previously inconceivable. 
A classroom is asked to create a documentary video answering an essential question related to important concepts. Teams of students take on different subtopics and collaborate to create one final product.  Teams are expected to contact outside sources for information. 
At this level, common classroom tasks and computer technology exist not as ends but as supports for student centered learning.  Students learn content and skills in support of important concepts as they pursue the challenge of creating a professional quality video.  Collaboration becomes necessary and technology allows such communications to occur.  Questions and discussion are increasingly student generated.

Reuben R. Puentedura  takes it to a new level:

SAMR Model of Technology by Reuben R. Puentedura 

Building a Better Teacher

Beverly Rupe

ET-Learning Styles, cognitive theory, teaching, teacher assessment

Green, E. (2014). Building a better teacher: How teaching works (and how to teach it to everyone). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.

This book explores the history of efforts to transform teaching from ineffective rote methods to more creative approaches. It includes a discussion of the academic research leading to teaching reform beginning in the 1980s, and uses examples from classrooms to illustrate the differences between effective and ineffective methods. Engaging students, encouraging them to talk (using “academic discourse”) and then listening to them to determine their needs are areas of focus in each of the classroom stories detailed in the book. The focus is on improving the art of teaching, which, according to the author, is a skill that can be taught. I found this book fascinating and very readable, and very pertinent to classroom teachers and TLs alike.