Student Centered Collaboration Resources

by Tracy Castro-Gill

About these resources

I used the resources listed to the right in my sixth grade classroom. Although they are designed with middle-schoolers in mind, I believe each resource can be used with all learners if properly modified. I designed and used them after I realized that most students had never been taught HOW to collaborate. We expect academic collaboration to be an inherent skill, but I found out through trial and error that it’s not.


First, collaboration is most successful when there is a classroom community that is intentionally created and fostered. One characteristic of a classroom community that is often overlooked is trust. To help my students build trust in one another, I used the Red/Green Game. The game is not my design, but I found it very useful in the first few days of school to demonstrate the follies of distrusting each other and to get students thinking about the results of collaborative effort.


Next, students aren’t well equipped to resolve conflict. Hell, most adults aren’t. So, I created a lesson on how to resolve conflict. It also involved teaching them how to be more self-sufficient and not rely on me to resolve everything for them. It basically goes like this: Conflict occurs when someone’s needs aren’t being met. The flowchart helps students identify what the conflict is. Step one is to ask if the need can be met. Step two is to record the answer. If the answer is, “Yes,” the conflict is resolved. If it’s, “No,” the students must negotiate a solution. If they cannot negotiate a solution, then they can ask an adult for support. When my students had conflict in group work, they had to provide evidence they tried the flow chart before they came to me for help.


My teaching partner, Andrew Chase, and I developed the Peer Assessment packet and assigned it along with each collaborative assessment we administered. We taught at a standards-based-grading school, so we attached the packet to Common Core Literacy Standards on speaking and listening. The rationale for this packet is that we, as the teachers, could not assess students on these skills, because we were not collaborating with them. They were the only people capable of assessing that. I would use my observations of their work and their assessments of each other to calculate a grade for collaboration. They could not receive their grade until they completed and returned their packet.

I hope you find these resources useful. Please feel free to use them as is, modify them, or as tools to launch your own ideas from! I highly suggest the book Positive Discipline for more ideas on how to build a healthy and collaborative classroom culture.

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