Friday, August 14, 2015

Fostering Relationships in the Classroom





Fostering Relationships in the Classroom: Group Cohorts and Collaborative Writing The explosion of digital media in our lives has radically shifted student expectations of daily interactions among their friends and peers. Within the classroom, we often face conflicts with student expectations due to the “always on” connections offered by smartphones and social media – many students disconnect from in-class activities in order maintain social connections outside the classroom.

Attempts to “cut off” these communications by banning cell phones or enforcing “no Facebook” policies often backfire because of student resistance. Rather than “fighting” these personal relationships, this presentation will focus on cultivating relationships among students within the classroom, and then adapting group projects in order to provide students with the social impetus to engage in the classroom material. We will discuss not only strategies for fostering relationships and collaboration among students, but also assessment approaches which reward students for facilitating collaboration among their peers. The key is to align the learning objectives with group activities so that students are assessed based on their ability to articulate the material as a group.

The example activity I’ll present is a collaborative project wherein groups of students collaboratively prepare guides to CHAT centered upon specific genres. Students work together to determine how best to prioritize the CHAT components in order to match the specific conventions of their genre, but then each student is responsible for adding examples for each CHAT component. This necessitates a high degree of interaction and planning – students who understand the material are rewarded for helping their peers, and those students finding difficulty are provided with the time and incentive to seek help among their group members. Additionally, surveys are used in order to assess those “invisible” interactions of student planning that occur beyond the purview of the classroom space – this allows for separate evaluation of effort and uptake for each individual student, allowing a more personalized approach to each student’s learning needs. When this is coupled with early draft feedback and opportunities for revision, we can create a space where students are socially rewarded for engaging with the material rather than academically penalized for “falling behind”.

6 comments:

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