The ability to work with others, even in the face of conflict, is a central element in both 21st-century learning as well as career preparation. As such, throughout the year, 11th-grade students will engage in collaborative projects that are designed to build critical interpersonal skills as well as build upon their content knowledge.
This page provides suggestions on how to foster that collaboration as well as forms that students should use to guide their project design and collaboration process.
Fostering Effective Collaboration
- To work together effectively, students should work to identify common goals, means of communication, and shared work habits as well as any potential sources of conflict early on. Setting norms of behavior, identifying roles and responsibilities, and creating an open environment for sharing information and materials is an important step that should precede any research or product creation. A group contract, as described below, creates a formal process for establishing these routines and ensuring that all members of the group work in a equitable manner toward the completion of the project.
- Once the group has established common operating protocols research should be conducted in a manner that allows all members access to the shared information and the ability to learn, both individually and collectively, from the research process. All sources should be seen by all group members, and their validity and usefulness debated until all members are convinced that the source and information are valid and valuable.
- When research seems complete, a graphic organizer of the information should be produced with the input of all group members and discussed openly with opportunity to debate the argument being presented as well as the evidence supporting that argument. The finalized graphic organizer, which all members of the group agree upon, should provide guidance on completing the final product.
- As production of the product begins, all elements of the product should be shared with the rest of the group and all members invited to comment on the design and application of each element. At no point should any member of the group be excluded from the ability to participate in the development of the project.
- As conflicts arise, members should rely upon the contract and norms that were established at the start of the project to help address the conflict, ensure that all members are able to complete their agreed upon role within the project, and participate in all aspects of the project creation.
- If a member(s) proves unable or unwilling to participate in the project or completed their agreed upon task, other members have a responsibility to provide and record reasonable guidance, suggestions, and redirection for that member(s). Open communication is essential and the forms for removing a group member should only be used in extreme circumstances.
Group Contract Template - A copy of this document should be made at the start of the project and all members should participate in developing the articles and items which will guide the production of their product for the current project.
Group Member Dismissal Form - This form may be copied and modified to provide documentation to support the reasons for removing a member of the group prior to the conclusion of the project. A copy of the form must be hand-submitted to both teachers .
Emergency Action Request Form - This form may be filled out in the event that there is an emergency (i.e., an unforeseen and unavoidable event that impacts the production or presentation of the final product of a group). A copy of the form must either be hand delivered or included with an email explaining the circumstances of the emergency as soon as feasible. Intentional delay in completing and delivering the form may be grounds for the request to be denied.