What is Collaboration?

To begin our inquiry into what is collaboration, students were given a Box Maze to complete. A tiny car had to be driven from one end of the box maze to the other.

The only rules the children were given were:

1) the car should not be touched

2) the car should drive, not fly 🙂

We have purposefully excluded sharing the keys to success. Children needed to experience first hand what collaboration was and wasn’t and make own connections to the concept. Thus we stepped back and gave them the room to explore. Each group failed on the first attempt. Yet soon children started communicating and working together, which led to their first successful collaboration!

At this point, we had our first group discussion on what helped them to succeed. The comments children shared were:

“working together as a team”
“shaking the box together”
“moving up and down together”
“someone shouting: Stop it! Do it this way!”

That was a good start! The common denominator that was coming out was doing it together. Now we needed to expand our understanding of collaboration deeper. So our second experiment – the Parachute Game – happened the next day.

Once again, no success tips were given. The task was to bounce the ball on the parachute as high and as long as possible. This time the children started communicating and sharing their ideas immediately. The teams members listened to their peer observations and finally succeeded beautifully. Here are the two clips that show the beginning and the end of our experiment.

After a group discussion and discovery that collaboration was the secret ingredient to make our Box Maze and Parachute Game a success, children shared their ideas of what it meant to collaborate. To practice collaboration further, they worked on an art project in pairs.

A Whole Class Art Project followed, during which children were asked to think about what will make their project a success.

This is the class reflection that followed on How Can We Know That We Worked Together Effectively?

We did it together, everyone in the team (Nathur)
Project came out good (Robyn)
Everyone helped to clean up ( Win)
We helped each other (Arth)
We shared our ideas (Nathur)
We listened to our friends (Pun)
Everyone had to do a good job. If they were not, we had to help them (Win)
Everybody helped (Alice)
Go find friends and do it together (Chaosub)
We helped each other to finish it (Tara)
We listened to each other (Pokpong)
We played together with excitement and we did it together with fun (Summer)
We stopped arguing and listened to our friends (Ryu)
We were helping, talking and did not fight (Berci)

Based on these reflections we made a Class Success Criteria for working together effectively. Every day, before going home children do a self-assessment on how well they played their part in collaborating with their peers. I admire them for their honesty in self-reflection!

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