Fireworks. The ideal collaboration between students would be like fireworks - inspired ideas shooting off and exploding in the sky, forming something beautiful that elicits oohs and ahhs. Beauty emanating from a hidden source, grounded yet ethereal all at once.
Fireworks don't happen by accident though. Students need to be taught how to work together before the magic happens. Teaching them to be respectful, to be kind, to be fair and to listen are all key to ensuring great collaboration. Once you've got those skills in place, you need to inspire them. Whether this is through a problem that needs solving, carefully examining a critical issue or creating something fascinating, students will rise to the challenge of working with their peers to produce something great (thoughts count!). You also need to give them space - both physical and temporal - to allow them to work together at their own pace; you can't rush fireworks.
In the end, the where and how of the collaboration are somewhat unimportant. Whether the collaboration occurs in person or on-line is of little consequence as long as the end result is growth on the part of all of the collaborators.
Last year, my principal coined a term that we use frequently - co-learning. Co-learning is exactly what happens when people work together and are open to one another's ideas, feeding off of one another. Much like adults, not every collaborative situation that students are put in will yield great results but when the chemistry is just right, magic. Fireworks.
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about literacy, collaborative teaching and finding new and innovative ways to engage & motivate all kids. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!