COLLABORATIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING MY LEARNING DIARY

Hi! My name's Marta Tarantino. I've been teaching English in middle schools for seven years, after teaching children at primary school for fifteen years. It's quite a long career, indeed, but...when it comes to collaborative teaching I feel a newbie. As a matter of fact, I started somehow working in a collaborative way a couple of years ago, when some of my classes were involved in an international project with a few classes of a secondary school in Athens, Greece. The small towns where I teach belong to an area in southern Italy wher an ancient dialect of Greek origin is spoken by elderly people. The project aimed at building a virtual bridge between our schools through a collaborative research project: the students of the two schools became involved in research upon their common roots. It was a tremendous opportunity for our students to break the ice and get in touch with peers from another country. In addition, it gave them the chance to go through the value of collaboration as they were expected to tackle with various complex tasks involving problem solving approach as well as the use of the English language for real communication. But it was a formidable opportunity for me too. It helped me to getout from the comfort zone and start exchanging with other teachers out from the quite isolated context where I live and work. Last year I joined my first eTwinning project, for which our school has been awarded the European Quality Label, and this year I have founded a new project in collaboration with a Greek colleague. This course represents a great opportunity to improve my skills and my knowledge about collaborative teaching and learning as well as a valuable paltform for getting feedback by other teachers.

MODULE 1. I totally agree with Professor Butler when she underlines the need for a shared language, a metalanguage, to talk about the learning experience. And I have really appreciated the various definitions of CL as well as the pedagogical meaningfulness of each language chunk Professor Butler,her collaborators and people involved in the course design have used. Various performance levels; common goal , relationship among learners, positive interdependence; meaningful learning experiences, real-world problems are only a few of these incredibly important concepts. Moreover, contrasting cooperative vs collaborative approach has increased my awareness of the added value of CL approach: coordinated effort is the key principle to focus upon. When it comes to the importance of a collaboration friendly environment, I definitely drew inspiration from the video 1.2 as to finding ways to rearrange the spaces to meet the needs of collaborative learning experience. I have used the circle time as an opportunity to furtherly reflect together upon the learning experiences and I I regularly carry out PBL in my classes. I must confess that behaviour management and getting the students stay on track go on being major issues for me, so I’ll definitely try to implement the tips of using self and peer assessment also with the help of digital tools.I think that my primary goal should be helping students develop creativity and critical thinking and encouraging them to become independent learners. This means that my role is of a guide and a facilitator and my crucial task is improving students’ motivation by building collaborative learning experiences. Yet, I share our colleagues’ doubts when it comes to integrating formative assessment in my planning as well their puzzlings related to the quality of collaboration.

Module 1 Learning activity: I have my students work in a somehow collaborative way every day. I frequently suggest activities that require a low level of collaboration, such as information gap activities and peer reciprocal tutoring. While working on an activity for the eTwinning project, for example, I asked the students to compare and share information in order to build a concept map of our System of Education. Indeed, every student had researched on their own and the task consisted in simply comparing information. Well, I think that low level of collaboration activities are those that don't require high order level of thinking. Later, I asked the same students to create a mind map illustrating our System of Education by using digital tool. In this case they had to go further and critically discuss their choices.

MODULE 2. We need to prepare students to enter the world as critical thinkers and complex communicators: this is the challenge, as Professor Butler stressess Thus we need to prepare ourselves as teachers to be able to design learning experiences that make our students successfully tackle new information and problems by acquiring key skills. Professor Butler tells us that it is not a matter of personality traits, everybody can acquire those skills by living learning experiences that demand the use of those skills: what a great tip! In addition, technology offers us a variety of tools for inquiry-based pedagogies that can prove powerful in order to help us and our students face this learning revolution. And, yes, I have witnessed how efficient these tools can be at supporting learner-centered teaching approaches. Before designing BL I’m definitely going to ask myself the fundamental four questions: does the activity provides students with the opportunity to work together by sharing responsibility as with the process and the outcome, by making substantive decisions and by working interdependently? The 21 CLD Collaboration Rubric provides teachers with a valuable instrument that definitely help them to break free from uncertainties, and the use of the Learning Scenarios models and template offer them a wonderful tool to plan and structure collaborative learning activities.

Module 2 Learning activity: Low collaboration level activity - students compare and share information in order to build a concept map of our System of Education. A) Is this working together? Yes. B) Is this shared responsibility? No. C) Do they make substantive decisions? No. E) Is their work interdependent? No. That's aCode 2! High collaboration level activity -students create a mind map illustrating our System of Education by using a digital tool.A) Is this working together? Yes. B) Is this shared responsibility? Yes. C) Do they make substantive decisions? Yes. E) Is their work interdependent? Yes. That's a Code 5! Well, I'm definitely going to use these instruments: they are extremely useful as they help you reflect on the level of collaboration of the activities you intend to implement and, thus, help you improve your taching planning.

MODULE 3. This course has helped me reflect on the importance of assessment as it has let me think of its multiple implications. It is a process that involves cognitive and metacognitive as well as emotional and ethical dimensions. Formative assessment, self-assessment, peer assessment are powerful instruments that allow the development of learners' skills. I try to follow the principles of a brief, clear and timely feedback when I design and implement assessment. In fact, when it comes to collaborative activities, I have faced the same difficulties as the teachers in the course have highlighted: it isn't easy to avoid risks such as competition, etc but I do find all the solutions offered valuable. the key principles is that self-assessment and peer assessment have to be useful for learners, and that summative assessment must consider the artifacts as outcomes to be assessed. I really appreciated Chrysa's various assessment methods - individual performance, group performance and group's functionality - and the questions she asked her pupils. I think that having young learners cope with peer assessment is a good way for promoting this skill at an early ageby promoting opportunities for metcognitive analysis. I think that informing students in advance as well as involving them in the process is fundamental. The ICT teacher identifies seven benefits linked to assessing CL: well, they provide a further reason to implement CL. As with the challenges he mentions, in my experience, they may be an obstacle to a wide spreading of CL. Yet, the solutions he suggests , namely the use of collaborative tools such as Kahoot, Lino and Padlet for individual portfolios and Team Up for small group assessment, the rearrangement of space in the classroom and more interdisciplinary teaching can help overcome difficulties. I also like Anna Laghigna's variety of 2.0 tools choice when it comes to assessment: I have only experience with Padlet, but I'm going to try the other tools she mentions. Since I started working collaboratively on the eTwinning platform I've been using rubrics and checklists .I need more training with regards to designing this kind of assessment tools, but I'm absolutely convinced that they help me and my students in the collaborative learning journey we started a couple of years ago. Yes, I'm kind of self-taught person and I embarked in this learning experience with the purpose of broadening my knowledge of CL by exchanging with other tachers and following the contributions of authorities in the field like Professor Deirdre Butler and Dr Luis Valente. The latter's contribution has proved fundamental in helping me look at assessment in its various aspects. I am convinced that self and peer assessment are necessary to have students become independent learners and I have observed this in my classes: my students are definitely capable of transferring the skills involved in these kinds of assessment ot other contexts. In addition, the combination of the two types of assessment, researchers say, helps reducing the friendship dependency, benefit of dominators and benefit of parasitism as each learner assumes both the role of assessee and assessor.I totally agree with the opportunity of assigning a percentage weight to individual assessment within summative assessment of CLfrom the beginning of the process because it develops self-regulation. Finally, Mind Maps, Concept Maps and Infographics provide useful tools when it comes to evaluating different skills.

MODULE 4. We need to model collaboration: that's absolutely essential. Well, our great teachers have offered great solutions to this issue. The co-teaching rotation model, for example, is a great way of taking advantage of the unique skills and attitudes of each teacher. Unfortunately, I'm afraid it isn't feasible in any school or context. I found particularly interesting the language teacher's experience as it both resembles mine and proves to provide an ideal model to me. As for the technological skills, well, I'm afraid I don't own them but I tried and I'm going to try to incorporate more and more technology in my teaching and lesson designing. I use Facebook to keep in touch with other teachers worldwide and to receive news from online educational magazines. As I have already said, I participated and I go on participating in online projects and I have personally taken advantage of the great opportunities of getting in touch with other teaching experiences they offer. I've been addicted to MOOCs for two years now and I think that my professional as well as personal development passes through these extraordinary platforms.

I've been collaborating with teachers of other subjects while carrying out online projects as well as local projects: the experience may present challenges but they can be faced by training at developing those skills and attitudes Professor Butler lists. Yes, there are teachers who are sceptical with collaboration: they only need to be invited to try. As with the use of technology to improve collaboration among teachers thus allowing a development of a true collaborative pedagogical vision: well, I've been peer reviewing and exchanging with teachers from around the world every week for the last 13 months...I'm exchanging with other teachers thanks to 2.0 tools even right now!

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.