TCHERS' VOICE / Class Culture

Case Study of a Teacher: Creating a Collaborative Learning Environment (Part 2)

Teacher Planning and Collaboration

Last week we got a glimpse into the collaborative, analysis-rich classroom that David Olio has created. After seeing a classroom like David's where students work so well together, I always wonder how students got there. In these short videos, we unpack some of the strategies and routines that David has created to facilitate the collaborative learning environment that we see in his videos.

Tribes: Agreements for Learning Together

David explains how he uses the Tribes Learning Communities approach to create a positive learning environment. Tribes are based upon four agreements: attentive listening, show appreciation/no putdowns, right to pass/right to participate, and mutual respect. David shares how these strategies can help to engage students socially, intellectually, and emotionally.

Desk Arrangement: Four Corners

The physical set-up of a classroom can either encourage or discourage collaboration. In this video, David shares how he arranges desks to facilitate collaboration among students. By using a "four corners" arrangement, David helps students to make eye contact and increase interaction through their physical positions.

Encouraging Appreciation

In all of David's videos, it's clear that he deeply enjoys his students. In this video, we see how David encourages his students to appreciate each other. David explains how he has students write appreciations for each other on note cards at the end of class. By focusing on appreciation, students are more likely to engage in effective collaboration.

Collaboration vs. Cooperative Learning

In this video, David gives us more insight into how he creates a collaborative learning environment. He points out the main differences between collaboration and cooperative learning, particularly stressing that collaboration requires students to develop their own ideas and doesn't work towards consensus.

Watch More From This Series

Case Study of a Teacher: Engaging Students in Text Analysis (Part 1)

Video Playlist: Collaborating to Plan Common Core Lessons for ELLs

We partnered with the National Education Association (NEA) on this video series that shows some of the "invisible work" that goes into successful teaching and observe the end-result classroom lessons and the planning that went into crafting them.

Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.

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