Collaborative Teaching and Learning Ana Ribeiro's LEARNING DIARY

I'm Ana, from Porto, Portugal. I'm a teacher of English since 1991 but after taking a post graduation in Management of School Libraries 5 years ago I started working as a Teacher Librarian. Each year I have just one class to teach my subject and then I do all different activities and work literacies at the school libraries. In the last 2 years my English students are from a vocational course. I'm working in a partnership in an Erasmus + Project named: VEAC - Values: The essence of an Active Citizen
To know more about this project visit our pages:


AE Cego do Maio, Póvoa de Varzim

Course Introduction

The course has 4 modules - from 24 October until 27 November

Module 1 - what does collaboration mean in the classroom and what does it look like in practice

Module 2 - how to design and implement collaborative learning in the classroom

Module 3 - guidelines on how to assess collaborative learning

Module 4 - how teacher collaboration can facilitate student collaborative learning


1.1 What is collaborative learning?

In my opinion, Collaborative learning is an important tool to engage members of a group in the learning process. It teaches students supporting each other while learning. By this, they can develop their skills and become more active in the class.

1.2 Collaborative learning in a flexible classroom

In my school, as in almost all secondary schools in Portugal, there's no flexible classroom furniture. Unfortunately many schools don't even have heating during cold months and students and teachers can't take their coats off. At Primary schools some teachers are already trying to change furniture places and change it frequently. As a Teacher librarian I try to promote this kind of environment at the library and make use of some technology and online tools.

1.3 Collaborative learning through project-based learning

I'm the school coordinator in an Erasmus+ project (with 4 projects in eTwinning) and so we have been developing some activities where students collaboration practices are needed. The major problem is to involve teachers at school not students... I teach a vocational course and students who enroll this kind of classes are demotivated but usually show interest for these kind of activities. At the library, and as a Teacher librarian I try to instill students to make good use of web tools.

1.4 A foreign language teacher’s experience of collaborative learning

Inspiring Vídeo! Thanks! I think it's more important to evaluate how students achieve the aims (the process) than the knowledge itself. It's easier to evaluate what students know or memorized for a written test but at the end of the year or the term we know that they have already forgotten the topics studied before. Monitoring the kind of tasks presented in the video are a real challenge and the tools presented are quite useful for that age group.

1.5 A History & Geography teacher’s experience of collaborative learning

1.6 Module 1 Learning Activity

  1. Reflect on some recent learning activities you have carried out with your class in the past year, which have included some level of collaboration, and follow these steps:
  2. Select two of these learning activities; one which you think required a low level of collaboration from students, and one which you think required a high level of collaboration from students.
  3. In your Learning Diary, describe each learning activity in no more than 300 words, clearly outlining the aspects related to student collaboration. In your Learning Diary, explain why you think each activity requires a low or high level of collaboration from students.

English class in a Vocational course

Low level of collaboration:

. Students were presented a text and video about the celebration of World Day of Values. The text was read and discussed and students selected the 5 main values for them. Two web tools were shown (Tagul and Canva) and students were proposed to build wordclouds and posters with their work.

High level of collaboration:

In small groups students negotiated the most important words and justified their choice; They built a word cloud using Tagul and made a poster using Canva tool. Posters were printed and shared in the web page to celebrate the World Day of Values.


How can you design collaborative learning in the classroom?

The learning objectives for this module are:

  • Understand how to embed collaborative learning into lesson design
  • Appreciate the four dimensions of collaborative learning concerning group work, shared responsibility, making substantive decisions, and interdependent work
  • Understand how the 21st Century Learning Design Collaboration Rubric and Learning Scenarios can help you reflect and design collaborative learning activities
  • Assess the two collaborative learning activities you described in Module 1, using the 21 CLD Rubric, and report in your Learning Diary

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Embedding collaborative learning into lesson design

  • Do you agree about the importance to have a shared language concerning what we mean by collaborative learning?
  • Do you agree that having collaborative skills is not a personality trait and that you can design learning activities to develop these skills in your pupils?
  • Professor Butler mentions that ‘Technology can support new pedagogies that focus on learners as active participants with tools for inquiry-based pedagogies and collaborative work spaces’. Do you agree, and what are your experiences of this?
I share the idea that the meaning of "collaborative learning" has to be understood and shared between teachers so that students achieve the expected goals and develop personal traits. Working in teams or group doesn't mean they are doing a collaborative learning and most teachers think they are.
I agree that learning activities can be designed to develop collaborative skills. Teachers know what concepts and knowledge students must aquire but they can negotiate with students the way they are going to achieve them.Since I started to coordinate and participate as a partner in an Erasmus+ project I developed my interest for collaborative work spaces.

2.3 The 4 Collaboration Questions

The 4 Collaboration Questions when you are designing for collaboration: are they working together? Do they have shared responsibility? Are they making substantive decisions? is their work interdependent?

What do you think of the 4 major questions presented by Professor Deirdre Butler? Are they useful in helping you design a collaborative learning activity? Have you asked yourself these questions before when designing collaborative learning activities?

I never thought about this when designing collaborative learning activities but I think they will be helpful from now on.

2.4 21 CLD Collaboration Rubric

How useful do you find the rubric Professor Deirdre Butler explained? Do you think it is useful in helping you understand the type and quality of collaboration taking place in the learning activities you design? Have you used this or similar rubrics before to help you design collaborative learning activities? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of it?

2.5 Collaborative learning scenarios

Check out the scenario template and 6 example scenarios in the resource section of this module. What do you think of the template? What do you think of the example scenarios? Do you find them inspiring? Can you see how you might adapt some scenarios to create collaborative learning activities for your own context? What do you find useful or less useful about these scenarios?

A very interesting template and the one about flipped classroom called my attention.

seven phases that help to planning and structuring learning activities

2.6 Module 2 Learning Activity

21CLD Learning Activity Rubrics

6 rubrics of 21st century learning that represent the important skills for students for develop:

  • collaboration
  • knowledge construction
  • self-regulation
  • real-world problem-solving and innovation
  • the use of ICT for learning
  • skilled communication

Are students required to share responsibility and make substantive decisions with other people? Is their work interdependent?

Are students working with others on the learning activity, and what's the quality of that collaboration?

Students work together when the activity requires them to work in pairs or groups to:

  • discuss an issue
  • solve a problem
  • create a product

Students have shared responsibility when they work in pairs or groups to develop a common product, design, or response

Students make substantive decisions together when they must resolve important issues that will guide their work together. Substantive decisions are decisions that shape the content, process, OR product of students’ work:

  • Content: Students must use their knowledge of an issue to make a decision that affects the academic content of their work together
  • Process: Students must plan what they will do, when to do it, what tools they will use, or the roles and responsibilities of people on the team
  • Product: Students must make fundamental design decisions that affect the nature and usability of their product.

Students’ work is interdependent when all students must participate in order for the team to succeed.

Collaboration: Rubric

1 - Students are NOT required to work together in pairs or groups.

2 - Students DO work together BUT they DO NOT have shared responsibility.

3 - Students DO have shared responsibility BUT they ARE NOT required to make substantive decisions together.

4 - Students DO have shared responsibility AND they DO make substantive decisions together about the content, process, or product of their work BUT their work is not interdependent.

5 - Students DO have shared responsibility AND they DO make substantive decisions together about the content, process, or product of their work AND their work is interdependent.

Has using the rubric made you change your mind about whether the activities you wrote about in module 1 represent low/high levels of student collaboration?

It was useful to use the 21CLD framework and rubric and it surely helped me to understand better collaborative learning. I intend to use it on future activities and I'm sure it will also help me to structure the activities in a better way 1) Students were presented a text and video about the celebration of World Day of Values. The text was read and discussed in big group. – CODE 1 - Students were NOT required to work together 2) Each student selected the 5 main values for them (individual reflection) - CODE 1 - Students were NOT required to work together 3) In small groups each student presented their 5 words and negotiated the most important 5 final words justifiying their choice – CODE 3 - Students have shared responsibility but they are not required to make substantive decisions together. 4) Each group builts a wordcloud using the web tool Tagul - CODE 3 - Students have shared responsibility but they are not required to make substantive decisions together. 5) Each group uses the word cloud created to make a poster and discuss the way they will share the activity in the Oiffcial social media page of the world event – World Day of Values - CODE 5 - Students have shared responsibility and they make substantive decisions together about the content, process, or product of their work and their work is interdependent.

2.7 OPTIONAL Peer Review activity


My review of three participants' tasks

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” ― Helen Keller


How Can You Assess Collaborative Learning?

The learning objectives for this module are:

  • Understand the principles of assessing collaborative learning
  • Appreciate the various challenges teachers face in assessing collaborative learning and the tips, tools and solutions available
  • Understand the value of using rubrics and checklists for assessing collaborative learning, and how to construct them
  • Appreciate the importance of involving students in the definition of assessment tools used for collaborative learning
  • Start creating one or more lesson plans integrating collaborative learning and assessment using the Learning Designer

3.1 Module 3 Introduction

3.2 TeachMeet - Collaboration: together and beyond!

Online Teachmeet on Wednesday 23rd November at 18:00 CET.

3.3 Assessment for improving collaborative learning

Do you think your assessment of collaborative work sometimes discourages students or encourages competition? If yes, how you do think this could be avoided? Is the assessment you carry out brief, clear and timely, and how do you ensure it is so; do you have tips to suggest for others? Does the summative assessment of each student in your school/subject take into account the learning outcomes related to collaborative work (such as project work/results)?

It’s easier to overcome difficulties when we share knowledge and responsibilities and students are the 1st to agree with this. However, they seldom realise that the collaborative work they might do is going to be assessed fairly or it will be taken into account in their final assessment of the subject. In general, school doesn't encourage this type of evaluation and when teachers have to obey to a predefined structure designed for all teahers and subjects they don't usually take into a fair account the learning outcomes related to collaborative work.

3.4 : A sports teacher's experience of assessing collaborative learning

The use of various assessment methods to track students progress in developing collaborative skills.

What do you think about the various assessment methods used by Chrysa to assess her pupils’ collaborative learning? Do you think the questions she asked her pupils were helpful in getting them to reflect about their collaborative skills? What do you think about implementing peer assessment with pupils of a young age (6-11 year olds)? Are there special considerations to be taken into account? What about her final question she asks us and our expert to reflect on; do you find it challenging to know how best to assess the individual participation of a student in a collaborative activity?

First of all I must say the project developed by Chrysa in an interdisciplinary way was very interesting and her 1st statement reflects my worries towards this issue: “when students’ assessment is based on their personal performance it results in a reduction of team spirit, whereas when evaluation is based on teamwork, some members become disengaged and leave the others to carry out the work.”
She used various assessment tools: direct observation to assess individual performance, debate to help doing peer and group performance assessment with constructive questions and analyses od the difficulties found during the process and direct observation, teacher's checklists and self assessment sheets to evaluate groups' functionality. The questions done are very motivating and make students think about positive personal attitudes towards their peers.
Chrysa wants to know if there is a valid way to constructively check the individual participation and performance within collaborative work and in to what extent is it appropriate to carry out discrete assessment for each member of the group since the final outcome is a product of collaborative work.....these are also my questions!

3.5 An ICT teacher’s experience of assessing collaborative learning

According to this teacher there are 7 Benefits of collaborative learning assessment:

  • It is a student-centered process
  • Promotes students involvement in the assessment tasks
  • Promotes students responsibility and motivation towards the learning process
  • Promotes self-reflection and students argumentation
  • Students can learn socially from each other
  • Promotes digital literacy through the use of digital web 2.0 applications
  • Promotes development of 21st century skills and competences

The main challenges he experienced in assessing collaborative learning are:

  • Changing role of the teacher/students in the classroom.
  • Group dynamics: students must have a positive attitude and receptivity towards their involvement in the assessment
  • Group assessment versus individual assessment
  • Management of teams/groups of students so that everyone participates and collaborates in the activities
  • Time available to prepare and apply assessment of collaboration in the classroom

His proposed solutions to solve those problems:

  • Assessing collaborative learning requires regular communication between peers and peers and teachers.
  • Digital tools can be used to support teacher’s planning activities. The use of collaborative digital tools enables teachers to efficiently observe student groups and deliver feedback. Digital tools can also support students to publish and share their assessments.
  • Reorganizing the classroom space can introduce more collaboration-friendly dynamics in the classroom
  • More interdisciplinary teaching and sharing of materials amongst teachers also facilitates collaborative teaching

His questions for reflection:

  • In collaborative learning situations, should student outcomes be assessed in a different way than the traditional way?
  • Is the way we assess collaborative learning independent of the curriculum and of the student’s age group? Can it be applied to all disciplines and classes?
  • In a collaborative learning environment how do we articulate individual assessment with group assessment?
  • In collaborative learning environments is it more important to focus on the process or on the product when grading student’s performance?

What do you think about the projects described by Antonio, from the student collaboration point of view, as well as the teacher collaboration point of view? Do you agree with the 7 benefits Antonio associates to assessing collaborative learning? What about the challenges he mentions concerning group dynamics, team management and the time needed to prepare and implement assessment of collaborative learning in the classroom – are these challenges you also face? Antonio mentions the use of collaborative digital tools, reorganizing the classroom space and introducing more interdisciplinary teaching and the sharing of materials amongst teachers as useful tips. Do you agree and what are your experiences of these suggestions?

Both eTwinning projects seem to motivate for collaborative work and I agree with the benefits pointed out by António. All the challenges mentioned by this teacher are experienced by me: changing roles; group dynamics, assessment and management and the preparation and application of assessment tools. I'm now starting to use collaborative digital tools with students, so I'm taking my 1st steps.

3.6 Collaborative learning and student peer reviews

When setting up student groups to work on a project, Anna often leaves students free to decide who they would like to work with and each team member’s role. However, when it comes to peer assessment Anna prefers to use a random name picking tool, as she believes this helps ensure objectivity and is more likely to encourage useful and constructive feedback among peers. Do you agree with these different approaches? Anna mentions a variety of digital tools which are helpful in implementing and assessing collaborative work, such as Edmodo, Scrumy, Tackks, Padlets, Google Forms etc. What are your experiences of these tools?

I found very interesting the way and the tools used to set up groups. I totally agree that there must be different approaches towards the type of work that's being proposed to students. I recently started using Padlets and the blog as a way of assessing collaborative work and I will certainly make use of some of the proposals presented. Anna's concerns towards assessment are the same as mine: "Students as well as their parents usually take summative assessment more seriously than formative assessment. How can we teachers persuade students that assessing for learning can be more relevant than assessment of learning? How can we plan assessment for learning as an ongoing process without stopping the spontaneous flowing of ideas and creativity while students are collaborating?"

3.7 Collaborative learning - What to assess and how?

How to assess collaborative learning, based on the CO-LAB Assessment Guidelines. Rubrics and checklists are introduced as useful tools for assessing collaborative learning and tips on how to construct them are provided, together with available examples.

1/ What to assess:

We need to consider the choice of assessment model according to the project or task at hand. The assessment model could be based around:

  1. Individual and collective learning outcomes;
  2. Teamwork and group goals including individual commitment;
  3. The methodological process adopted to implement and complete the project or task;
  4. The product or;
  5. A mix of targets.

Considering we are seeking to develop collaborative learning scenarios, the emphasis should be put on assessing the development of team work skills and the results achieved by the group, much more than evaluating individual successes.

2/ How to assess:

if we want to make an assessment at the end of a class, the assessment tool will have to be simple and not take too long to implement: example, use a checklist

If our goal is to provide information to the learners about their progress, we need instruments to collect information that we can display in the shape of scales, trend lines or graphics. Here our choice of instruments include Likert scales, checklists, rubrics and quizzes with detailed feedback.

When the purpose of the assessment is to provide further information to the teacher for example, using infographics, mind maps, portfolios, blogs or multimedia presentations can be appropriate options.

3/ Using rubrics: "A rubric is a scoring tool that lists the criteria for a piece of work and articulates gradations of quality for each criterion, from excellent to poor "(Goodrich, 1996).

The use of rubrics is a speedy and effective way of collecting information on students’ learning and can be used to provide feedback to stakeholders. Rubrics are very useful as they are flexible and effective for both self- and peer assessment.

4/ Constructing rubrics:

when constructing a rubric make sure your criteria is based on characteristics of the learning outcome, and not of the task itself.

Involving students in the design of rubrics is really effective.

5/ Using checklists

Checklists help people to manage a complex process, to establish priorities clearly, and to work better in teams. Good checklists really work.The ideal is to have between five and ten items. The layout should have a sober typography, with appropriate use of case, be easy to read, and ideally occupy no more than one page. Finally, it should be of quick application.

3.8 Answers to teachers’ questions on assessing collaborative learning

3.9 Module 3 Learning Activity

  • Task: Start working on creating one or more lesson plans integrating collaborative learning and assessment, which you intend to use with your students in the classroom before the end of 2016 or early next year. To design your lesson plan, use the Learning Designer.

Module 4

How can teacher collaboration facilitate collaborative learning?

The learning objectives for this module are:

  • Appreciate the benefits of teacher collaboration and how best to take advantage of them, as well as the challenges, and tips and tools for overcoming them
  • Understand the required skills needed by teachers for effective collaboration, as well as the conditions needed at school level for teacher collaboration to flourish
  • Understand how technology can facilitate teacher collaboration
  • Finalize the development of one or more lesson plans integrating collaborative learning and assessment, as well as elements of teacher collaboration, using the Learning Designer.
  • Peer review the collaborative learning lesson plans of two course participants.

4.1 Module 4 Introduction

4.1.1 Q&A Session with Prof. Deirdre Butler!

4.4 The benefits and challenges of teacher collaboration

What are the challenges of teacher collaboration?

Within the school environment itself, sometimes it is difficult to find time to collaborate with one another. Difficult to align your timetables; sometimes schools can’t build in time for teachers to collaborate within the school environment.

Do you agree with the benefits and challenges highlighted by Professor Butler? Which benefits and challenges would you add based on your experiences? What opportunities have you been able to take advantage of in your own context to collaborate with teachers both in and outside of school? Do you collaborate with teachers in your own subject group, across age groups or across themes relevant to the whole school, and if so how?

I totally agree with the benefita ans challenges Professor Butler highlights. The difficulties I face in my school are those pointed out and besides havinf a class hour to be with people from my Department seldom it is used to do real collaborative work. One of the challenges is presenting them the web tools because they are relutant to use them.
However, I'm having a great opportunity in participating and coordinating in my school an Erasmus+ Project with seven other country partners - a real collaborative work is being done but most of the teachers in my school don't want to get engaged.
As a Teacher Librarian I offer my help to collaborate with all the teachers and subject departments at school but they hardly ever accept my invitations...

4.5 Skills and conditions needed for teacher collaboration

Do you agree with the list of skills and conditions mentioned as necessary for teacher collaboration to flourish in schools? What would you add to this list based on your experiences? Does the leadership in your teacher training institution or the current school in which you teach model collaboration? If so, how, and do you think this is motivating and beneficial for students? Do you work with teachers who are sceptical about collaboration, and what have you/will you try to help them see the advantages of this way of working?

I totally agree with the conditions mentioned as necessarry to build a collaborative environment at schools but as I wrote in previous comments, the school Administration of my school doesn't invest in this type of work. With my students I'm introducing collaborative work and as a Librarian I introduce some topics of the benefits of collaborative tasks...but it's still a longpath.

4.6 How technology can facilitate teacher collaboration

Do you use technology specifically for the purpose of collaborating with other teachers? Would you say that the nature of your digital collaboration with teachers is equivalent to ‘sending and displaying’, as mentioned in the video, or more about processing, analyzing and sharing? Why do you think this is and can you give examples? Which digital tools would you recommend for teachers to use for collaborating and why?

I use technology for the purpose of collaborating with other teachers, specially with the my partners of the erasmus+ project. All the project was designed using google doc and we share, and produce collaborative documents there. This tool is also used between teachers librarian. However, in my school it's still very difficult to engage teachers in this type of work. I proposed the school administration to do some workshops for teachers in order to motivate them but there's still a great opposition by so many who don't even visit the library page on facebook (many refuse to have an account!) or blog

4.7 Irish teachers’ reflections on teacher collaboration

Do you agree that finding time within the school day for teacher collaboration is challenging? What are your experiences of this, and what solutions have you tried to overcome this challenge? Do you agree that working with teachers from different disciplines can be very useful, and what are your experiences of this? What are the conditions needed in your opinion for this to work?

It's extremely important to find a common school hour for teachers being together collaborating as a department group. It happens in my school but unfortunatelly this time is being spent to read laws and burocratic work...It's very useful to work with teachers from different subjects and I'm implementing small attempts as a teacher librarian. That's one of my responsibilities in this job. Small steps are being taken to improve the school environment in what concerns collaboration

4.8a Module 4 Learning Activity

My lesson plan in the learning designer

tools used in my Lesson Plan

Peer reviews of my plan

My Reviews

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