Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mini-Grants! We know you've been waiting to hear about this!

New Teacher Community:  Mini-Grant Opportunity

The New Teacher Community is thrilled to offer a mini-grant opportunity for Lesley University alumni novice teachers. The purpose of this program is to provide financial support to improve your teaching.

Funds may be used for such things as:
   Classroom supplies for specific projects and curriculum enhancement;
   Teacher enrichment and professional development, such as attending a conference or mini-course;
   Membership in a professional organization;
   Educational apps connected to your curriculum.

Priority will be given to first-time applicants and teachers who are in their first five years of full-time teaching after receiving their degree from Lesley.  In general, successfully funded applications are well written and provide all information asked for.  Please limit your request to no more than $400.00 in funding support.   

Applications for the mini grants are accepted in one cycle during each academic year. The application due date is January 31, 2015 and all receipts for funds awarded must be submitted by June 30, 2015. Copy and paste the application below, complete the entire application and submit it via the email address below or through the U.S. mail by the due date.

Mail to:
Nancy Roberts
Lesley University
GSOE Field Placement/New Teacher Community
29 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Email as an attachment (with Mini-Grant in the subject heading) to either
1. or to
(Please type the address carefully---The email address is newteacherscommunity with an “s” after teachers)

Contact: Andi Edson, Director of the New Teacher Community ( via email if you have questions about this opportunity. Please note that there are two pages for this application. 

Read and Follow: Our Facebook page for wonderful fully-funded professional development opportunities and travel trips for teachers!   


2014-2015 New Teacher Community Mini-Grant Application

Name: _________________________________________________

School System and Position: ________________________________


Year of Graduation: ______ Lesley Degree: _______________                 

Your Email address:______________________________________

Home Phone: ________________ Cell phone: _________________

School Phone: _______________ Best way to reach you? ________

Address: Home:


Address: School:


Have you received a mini-grant before? No__ Yes__ 

When? ____   What was the title? 


Title of Your Proposed Project:


Amount Requested:  _________________ ($400.00 maximum)

The purpose and/or objectives of the project:

How will you evaluate the outcome of this project?

Your proposed budget:
(Attach an additional page if necessary.  Please be specific about where you hope to purchase these materials should you be awarded the funds.  If you are applying for funding for a conference, a course or membership in an organization, please be specific about what the funds will cover and send us specific follow-up and background information.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

An Invitation for our New Teacher Community! Come for Creativity and Inspiration!

What Makes A Great Teacher?

What's the biggest piece of advice you would share with an aspiring teacher?

"Network, network, network. Connect yourself to great teachers, and stay connected. I've been a networked teacher from the start of my career. In recent years there has been an exponential growth in the number and quality of teacher networks" 

Follow this wonderful conversation on NPR ED.  The comments that follow (look at the link are eye-opening, reaffirming, and thought-producing).

5 Great Teachers On What Makes A Great Teacher

When we began our 50 Great Teachers series, we set out to find great teachers and tell their stories. But we'll also be exploring over the coming year questions about what it means for a teacher to be great, and how he or she gets that way.
50 Great Teachers
Ken Bain i
Ken Bain
Troy Cockrum i
Troy Cockrum
Eleanor R. Duckworth
Renee Moore i
Renee Moore
Jose Vilson i
Jose Vilson 
To get us started, we gathered an expert round table of educators who've also done a lot of thinking about teaching. Combined, these teachers are drawing on over 150 years of classroom experience:
  • Ken Bain is president of the Best Teachers Institute and author of What the Best College Teachers Do. He taught U.S. history on the college level for nearly 50 years — at the University of Texas, Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University, New York University and elsewhere.
  • Troy Cockrum is director of innovative teaching for a K-8 school in Indianapolis. He hosts a podcast on the flipped classroom, and is the winner of a 2013-2014 Jacobs Educator Award for using technology to support innovative learning.
  • Eleanor Duckworth is a research professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a former elementary school teacher with an approach to teaching and research grounded in her study with psychologist Jean Piaget.
  • Renee Moore is a high school and community college English teacher, a National Board Certified teacher, a member of the board of directors of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and co-chair of its certification council. She also blogs for the Center for Teaching Quality.
  • Jose Vilson is a math educator for a middle school in New York City. He's a blogger and the author of This Is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education.
What qualities make a great teacher?

Renee Moore: The Hebrew word for teach has, among its meanings: to aim or shoot like an arrow, to point like a finger, to flow like water. The word reminds me of what parents do when we teach our child to ride a bike. The first time, we may ride with her or turn the pedals. Next time, we steer while she pedals. Finally, the moment comes when we balance her, aim her down the sidewalk, push her off and let go. Great teachers do that: They start or move the minds of their students along a path, prepare them for the journey and propel them into the future. And they do it consistently and passionately.
Ken Bain: ... I think we have to avoid the temptation to define everything in terms of what the teacher does to the student. Sometimes, as the title of a wonderful book put it, we teach best with our mouth shut.
I think about the way my youngest grandson is learning to ride a bicycle. It actually isn't the way Renee describes. Rather, his parents bought him a balance bike when he was barely 3 years old, and simply gave it to him. He then figured out how to balance himself on it entirely on his own. ... Sometimes, great teaching happens when we simply provide the resources and challenges and get out of the way.
Eleanor Duckworth: Getting people to think about what they think, and asking them questions about it, is the best way I know how to teach.

How do you know that you're having an impact?
Jose Vilson: The kids tell me, whether I want to hear it at the time or not.
Moore: I've taught my entire career in the rural Mississippi Delta, in small schools in small towns. As we used to say at Bread Loaf [the writing school of Middlebury College in Vermont, where Moore earned a master's degree in literature], I "inhabit the consequences" of my work. After 25 years, I'm surrounded by my former students, their families, and I'm now working with some of their children. I've had so many come or write back to tell me the impact I had on their lives. Among my most precious things are letters, handmade plaques and signs, and other gifts from grateful students. One wrote me from jail just to say, "Mrs. Moore, it's not your fault ... "

What kind of training and experience makes a great teacher?

Bain: I know I'm going to get pushback on this, but I think one of the major problems we face in cultivating great teachers is that we don't pay enough attention, especially in K-12, to the learning of the teacher. We should help them develop the dynamic powers of their minds and should continue to do so throughout their lives.
Second, we should help them develop an understanding of some of the major ideas coming out of the research and theoretical literature on what it means to learn, how the human mind works, and all of the personal and social forces that can influence learning. This is a dynamic field with lots of important research and ideas emerging almost constantly, and the training and experience of a great teacher has to include the opportunity to explore, understand and apply the ideas and information that is emerging.
Finally, great teaching includes the ability to give good feedback and to make assessments.
Vilson: It really depends on the environment around the teacher. ... With more experienced staff, it's important to get beyond the humdrum PDs [professional development opportunities] and get into something truly transformative, which is hard to find. That's why so many of us have to seek out PD opportunities both on and offline on our own time, past the meetings and opportunities provided by our school.
Moore: There is so much in teaching that would be best learned through apprenticeship, rather than the current system of leaving most new teachers to trial-and-error their way through. The teachers who become great or master teachers seek out the help and PD they need, as Jose mentions, but I agree with the work of Deborah Ball and others that we know enough about teaching that we can, and should, be much more systematic in sharing that collective wisdom with our newest members.
Also, Ken is correct about the importance of being able to assess student learning and give timely, appropriate feedback. The current overemphasis on test preparation and other misuses of standardized testing have taken much of this critical professional skill out of the classroom and away from teachers.

How has the definition of great teaching changed over time? How do you expect it to change in the future?

Vilson: The definition hasn't changed much over time, but the stereotype of it certainly has. The idea of raising test scores, being young and bringing a new set of ideas is different from the elder statesmen and women that comprised most of my ideas of great teaching growing up. Great teaching seems to reflect whatever the mode of education reform we're in at the time.
Bain: I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree here. I think there has been an enormous change in the way we define great teaching. In the old days, we often defined it in terms of performance on the part of the teacher. I'm afraid those old definitions still persist in the minds of some people. We had certain notions about great performances in the classroom, and we looked for those performances. In the emerging definition of great teaching that I've been suggesting here, some of us are now thinking of it in terms of learning and the facilitation of learning.
Moore: And I disagree with Ken. Great teachers (and the students and parents they serve) have always defined great teaching in terms of the long-term effects on their students. ... Your response suggests that the impetus for deeper learning on the part of teachers has come from the top (e.g., higher ed researchers) down to classroom teachers, when in fact, the greatest movement has been among teachers ourselves.
Bain: I'm really not suggesting a top-down model at all. I'm just recognizing that the research on human learning over the last half-century in particular has had an enormous influence on how we define teaching and how we understand what it takes to cultivate someone else's learning. Some important aspects of that research have been done by classroom teachers on all levels, so I'm not seeing much room for a "Us" and "Them" or top-to-bottom way of understanding this.

Who should not be a teacher?

Moore: Anyone who cannot listen or learn from others, including his or her students.
Vilson: Anyone who can't take critique and isn't willing to center their visions on the students.
Troy Cockrum: Someone who is not passionate for why they are in education. Students are not widgets. You can go to a job every day producing or designing widgets and do a good job at it even if you aren't passionate for what you do. Students deserve more. Students should be treated and respected as individuals, and only a passionate educator can do that.

Who, in your life, has embodied great teaching?

Duckworth: I danced ballet for six years, but I quit when I was 15 because I thought it wasn't a serious way to spend one's life. I was a very serious young woman. When I was 58, I finally got the courage to try again. Margie Gillis [a modern dancer and choreographer] was a great teacher of mine.
My first workshop with her was a weeklong class that had people ranging in age from 16 to 72 and in experience from total beginner to New York professionals. There were 35 people in the class, and it was a peak experience for everybody. She gave us exercises — such as, cross the floor as delicately as you possibly can — which we all did at whatever level we could, and we did them side by side. It was really extraordinary teaching.
Moore: I've been blessed to have had several great teachers in my life, starting with my father, who first taught me to love learning itself. Among my schoolteachers, the great ones included: Mrs. Bailey, a tall, elegant black woman who was the principal of our elementary school. She was one of the first educators I encountered who genuinely believed every child could learn, and would inspire us to attempt things we thought impossible. Another was Dixie Goswami, the director of the writing program at Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English, where I earned my M.A. Dixie not only taught us how to write, but also the tremendous transformative power of literacy for us and our students. Well into her 80s and still teaching, Dixie continues to inspire me (and push me) to make a difference, not just a living.
Vilson: If we just focus on my time as a teacher, the best ones I know include Mrs. Ruff, a sixth-grade teacher whose classroom management was based on civil rights and empowerment. [Vilson also named Moore and suggested her for this round table].

How important is it to share some of the background and experience of your students?

Moore: Having some common experiences or understanding of my students' backgrounds was always helpful to me in my work with high school students because I taught in 100 percent African-American schools. The black students needed to see that it is possible to master the use of standard English without turning into a white person. But when I began teaching at the college level, I realized it was also important for the white students to have a highly accomplished African-American English teacher, because so many of them needed that model to counteract what they had been taught and told all their segregated lives.

What in your personal experience or biography helped make you a better teacher?

Cockrum: I come from a media production background. While that express experience may not have made me a better teacher, the need in the field to be innovative, creative and technologically advanced has given me the needed skills to bring those to education.
Vilson: Everything, but especially growing up in a poor neighborhood and gaining access to private education, because I brought some of the ethos and expectation from my upbringing to my classroom.
Moore: I agree with the others on this, and have often said that teaching is the consummate profession. A highly accomplished teacher draws on everything s/he knows and has ever done to do the creative, dynamic work that is teaching. Among the experiences that helped me most were my background as a freelance journalist, and as a parent (I've raised 11 children — was a 30-year-old mother of four when I started teaching).
Duckworth: I was Piaget's student in Geneva. From Piaget I got the theoretical view that no one can know exactly what meaning somebody else has made. Words can express it to some extent, but you can't assume anybody is making the same meaning as you are, and everybody has their own path.
The other thing I got from them was the way of talking to kids. I learned from [Piaget's research partner Barbel] Inhelder about getting kids interested in what you want to talk about, and not giving them any hints.
How do you improve on the job?

Cockrum: I attend four or five conferences a year, sometimes more. Presenting at conferences also provides me the opportunity to reflect on my own practice. I'm connected online through Twitter and other social media, to keep myself connected to my PLN [personal learning network]. I make sure to balance my face-to-face professional development with my online professional development. I model for my students the act of being a constant learner.
What's the most important lesson you learned when you were just starting out?
Vilson: Stop taking things so personally, Jose. And if you break down emotionally one day, rest up the rest of the afternoon, go to sleep early, and get into school early the next day. Don't take the day off unless you're absolutely sick or something important is happening.
Cockrum: I had a student come to me during her break period very upset. She vented about a problem she was having and really struggling with. I kept trying to interject advice to help her solve the problem. Finally, she said, "Mr. Cockrum, I don't want advice, I just want someone to listen." I regularly remind myself: Students just need someone to listen. While advice can be helpful, the most beneficial thing I can provide in most situations is just to listen.
Bain: I'd just say that we have to learn constantly, about our students, their learning, our subjects, their society and lives, and so forth, and we just have to take advantage of all the opportunities we have to learn. All of the things that my colleagues have mentioned are important, but I'd emphasize three: Read, listen and talk. Read everything you can about learning and about your subject. Engage in conversations with other people who are also exploring the questions, ideas and information.

What's the biggest piece of advice you would share with an aspiring teacher?

Duckworth: One of the important qualities is to be able to listen well. And a teacher needs to believe in their students.
Moore: Network, network, network. Connect yourself to great teachers, and stay connected. I've been a networked teacher from the start of my career. In recent years there has been an exponential growth in the number and quality of teacher networks. Most of these are grass-roots, vibrant and vital. Some great examples include: Center for Teaching Quality's Collaboratory, English Companion Ning, Classroom 2.0, K12Online Conference, and hundreds of teacher-initiated and -maintained Twitter chats (#engchat, #sschat, [social studies], #scichat, #tlpchat [teach like a pirate] ...). Find the regularly updated list HERE.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Teachers Are Thankful For

17 Things Teachers Are Thankful For 

(From and posted on BuzzFeed Community)

As Thanksgiving approaches, we’re thankful for our families and our many blessings. But as teachers, there are a few extra things for which we are thankful. So here’s a list! 
WeAreTeachers / Via  November 2013
This post was created by a user and has not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed's editorial staff. It is also not paid advertising. BuzzFeed Community is a place where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"No Act of Kindness, No Matter How Small, Is Ever Wasted"

Seen in the halls of Bowen Elementary School in Newton, MA!  What a wonderful idea! 
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Truly Wonderful Conference Just for New Teachers

This is a truly wonderful conference!  Don't miss it! It is well worth writing substitute plans for!


Just For New Teachers Conference

JFNT Header
MTA’s Just For New Teachers (JFNT) 13th Annual Conference presents the perfect opportunity to meet with fellow educators. This one-day conference, brought to you by MTA’s New Member Committee, will offer workshops on classroom management and instruction, teaching English language learners and legal basics.

New this year is a free interactive workshop, The Skin that We Speak: Exploring Culture and Language in the Classroom and Beyond, presented by Beau Stubblefield-Tave, a principal in the Center for Cultural Fluency.
DATE: Friday, December 5, 2014

LOCATION: Sheraton Four Points, 1125 Boston Providence Turnpike, Norwood, MA

WHO CAN ATTEND: Just for New Teachers is open to MTA members in their first four years of practice. Members of the Student Education Association of Massachusetts (SEAM), are also invited to attend at no charge.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Twenty Collaborative Learning Tips and Strategies For Teachers

An updated and excellent article posted in by Miriam Clifford.
This post has been updated from a 2011 posting by  Miriam Clifford.

20 Collaborative Learning Tips And Strategies For Teachers

20 Collaborative Learning Tips And Strategies For Teachers
by Miriam Clifford
This post has been updated from a 2011 post.

There is an age old adage that says “two heads are better than one”.  Consider collaboration in recent history:  Watson and Crick or Page and Brin (Founders of Google). But did you know it was a collaborative Computer Club about basic programming at a middle school that brought together two minds that would change the future of computing?

Yes, those two were of course Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the founders of Microsoft.
Collaborative learning teams are said to attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually.  Why is this so?

Groups tend to learn through “discussion, clarification of ideas, and evaluation of other’s ideas.” Perhaps information that is discussed is retained in long term memory.  Research by Webb suggests that students who worked collaboratively on math computational problems earned significantly higher scores than those who worked alone.  Plus, students who demonstrated lower levels of achievement improved when working in diverse groups.
Collaborative learning teams are said to attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually.
Many consider Vygotsky the father of “social learning”.  Vygotsky was an education rebel in many ways.  Vygotsky controversially argued for educators to assess students’ ability to solve problems, rather than knowledge acquisition. The idea of collaborative learning has a lot to do with Vygotsky’s idea of the “zone of proximal development”.  It considers what a student can do if aided by peers and adults. By considering this model for learning, we might consider collaboration to increase students’ awareness of other concepts.

What are some ways to include best practices for collaborative learning in our classroom?

1. Establish group goals
Effective collaborative learning involves establishment of group goals, as well as individual accountability. This keeps the group on task and establishes an unambiguous purpose. Before beginning an assignment, it is best to define goals and objectives to save time.

2. Keep groups midsized
Small groups of 3 or less lack enough diversity and may not allow divergent thinking to occur. Groups that are too large create “freeloading” where not all members participate. A moderate size group of 4-5 is ideal.

3. Establish flexible group norms
Research suggests that collaborative learning is influenced by the quality of interactions.  Interactivity and negotiation are important in group learning. In the 1960’s studies by Jacobs and Campbell suggested that norms are pervasive, even deviant norms were handed down and not questioned.

If you notice a deviant norm, you can do two things:  rotate group members or assist in using outside information to develop a new norm.  You may want to establish rules for group interactions for younger students. Older students might create their own norms. But remember, given their durable nature, it is best to have flexible norms.  Norms should change with situations so that groups do not become rigid and intolerant or develop sub-groups.

4. Build trust and promote open communication
Successful interpersonal communication must exist in teams. Building trust is essential.Deal with emotional issues that arise immediately and any interpersonal problems before moving on. Assignments should encourage team members to explain concepts thoroughly to each other.Studies found that students who provide and receive intricate explanations gain most from collaborative learning. Open communication is key.

5. For larger tasks, create group roles
Decomposing a difficult task into parts to saves time. You can then assign different roles. A great example in my own classroom was in science lab, fifth grade student assumed different roles of group leader, recorder, reporter, and fact checker.  The students might have turns to choose their own role and alternate roles by sections of the assignment or classes.

6. Create a pre-test and post-test
A good way to ensure the group learns together would be to engage in a pre and post-test. In fact, many researchers use this method to see if groups are learning. An assessment gives the team a goal to work towards and ensures learning is a priority. It also allows instructors to gauge the effectiveness of the group. Changes can be made if differences are seen in the assessments over time. Plus, you can use Bloom’s taxonomy to further hone in on specific skills.

Individuals should also complete surveys evaluating how well the group functioned. “Debriefing” is an important component of the learning process and allows individuals to reflect on the process of group learning.

7. Consider the learning process itself as part of assessment
Many studies such as those by Robert Slavin at Johns Hopkins have considered how cooperative learning helps children develop social and interpersonal skills. Experts have argued that the social and psychological effect on self-esteem and personal development are just as important as the learning itself.

In terms of assessment, it may be beneficial to grade students on the quality of discussion, engagement, and adherence to group norms. Praise younger groups for following collaborative learning standards. This type of learning is a process and needs explicit instruction in beginning stages. Assessing the process itself provides motivation for students to learn how to behave in groups. It shows students that you value meaningful group interactions and adhering to norms.

8. Consider using different strategies, like the Jigsaw technique.
The jigsaw strategy is said to improve social interactions in learning and support diversity. The workplace is often like a jigsaw. It involves separating an assignment into subtasks, where individuals research their assigned area.  Students with the same topic from different groups might meet together to discuss ideas between groups.

This type of collaboration allows students to become “experts” in their assigned topic. Students then return to their primary group to educate others. Here are some easy steps to follow the Jigsaw approach.  There are other strategies discussed here by the University of Iowa, such as using clusters, buzz groups, round robin, leaning cells, or fish bowl discussions.

9. Allow groups to reduce anxiety
When tackling difficult concepts, group learning may provide a source of support.  Groups often use humor and create a more relaxed learning atmosphere that allow for positive learning experiences.  Allow groups to use some stress-reducing strategies as long as they stay on task.

10. Establish group interactions
The quality of discussions is a predictor of the achievement of the group.  Instructors should provide a model of how a successful group functions.  Shared leadership is best.  Students should work together on the task and maintenance functions of a group. Roles are important in group development. Task functions include:
  • Initiating Discussions
  • Clarifying points
  • Summarizing
  • 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 more.

11. Use a real world problems
Experts suggest that project-based learning using open-ended questions can be very engaging.  Rather than spending a lot of time designing an artificial scenario, use inspiration from everyday problems. Real world problems can be used to facilitate project-based learning and often have the right scope for collaborative learning.

12. Focus on enhancing problem-solving and critical thinking skills
Design assignments that allow room for varied interpretations.  Different types of problems might focus on categorizing, planning, taking multiple perspectives, or forming solutions. Try to use a step-by step procedure for problem solving. Mark Alexander explains one generally accepted problem-solving procedure:
  1. Identify the objective
  2. Set criteria or goals
  3. Gather data
  4. Generate options or courses of action
  5. Evaluate the options using data and objectives
  6. Reach a decision
  7. Implement the decision
13. Keep in mind the diversity of groups
Mixed groups that include a range of talents, backgrounds, learning styles, ideas, and experiences are best. Studies have found that mixed aptitude groups tend to learn more from each other and increase achievement of low performers. Rotate groups so students have a chance to learn from others.

14. Groups with an equal number of boys and girls are best
Equally balanced gender groups were found to be most effective.  Some research suggests that boys were more likely to receive and give elaborate explanations and their stances were more easily accepted by the group.  In majority male groups girls were ignored.  In majority girl groups, girls tended to direct questions to the boy who often ignored them.  You may also want to specifically discuss or establish gender equality as a norm.  This may seem obvious, but it is often missed.  It may be an issue you may want to discuss with older students.

15. Use scaffolding or diminished responsibility as students begin to understand concepts.
At the beginning of a project, you may want to give more direction than the end.  Serve as a facilitator, such as by gauging group interactions or at first, providing a list of questions to consider. Allow groups to grow in responsibility as times goes on.  In your classroom, this may mean allowing teams to develop their own topics or products as time goes on.  After all, increased responsibility over learning is a goal in collaborative learning.

16. Include different types of learning scenarios
Studies suggests that collaborative learning that focuses on rich contexts and challenging questions produces higher order reasoning.  Assignments can include laboratory work, study teams, debates, writing projects, problem solving, and collaborative writing.

17. Technology makes collaborative learning easier
Collaboration had the same results via technology as in person, increased learning opportunities. Try incorporating free savvy tools for online collaboration such as Stixy, an online shared whiteboard space, Google groups, or Mikogo for online meetings. Be aware that some research suggests that more exchanges related to planning rather than challenging viewpoints occurred more frequently through online interactions.

This may be because the research used students that did not know one another. If this is your scenario, you may want to start by having students get to know each other’s backgrounds and ideas beforehand on a blog or chat-board.

18. Keep in mind the critics
As with any learning strategy, it’s important to have a balanced approach.  Cynics usually have a valid point. A recent New York time article, cites some criticism of collaboration for not allowing enough time for individual, creative thinking. You may allow some individual time to write notes before the groups begin.  This may be a great way to assess an individual grade.

19. Be wary of “group think”
While collaborative learning is a great tool, it is always important to consider a balanced approach. At times, group harmony can override the necessity for more critical perspectives. Some new research suggests that groups favored the more confident members. Changing up groups can help counter this problem.

20. Value diversity
Collaborative learning relies on some buy in.  Students need to respect and appreciate each other’s viewpoints for it to work. For instance, class discussions can emphasize the need for different perspectives.  Create a classroom environment that encourages independent thinking.  Teach students the value of multiplicity in thought.  You may want to give historical or social examples where people working together where able to reach complex solutions.

By definition learning is social in nature.  Using different mediums, whether it be books, discussions, technology or projects we study and develop new ideas. We impart ideas and share perspectives with others.  Collaboration is a learned process. If managed correctly, it is powerful tool that can allow educators to tap into new ideas and information.

This is a cross-post from; image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad