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7 Collaborative Learning Activities for Cooperative Groups

One of the most important components in today's classroom is the use of collaborative learning techniques. Collaborative learning in the elementary classroom setting not only supports academic development, but case studies show that it also nurtures essential life skills that children need for future success.

collaborative learning activities fishyrobb

Participating in group work to reach a common goal is essential for students in many ways. Here are some of the amazing long-term benefits of collaborative learning and why I LOVE group learning:

❤️ Social Development: Collaborative learning strategies provide students with opportunities to interact with their peers and build social skills through teamwork. 

❤️ Diversity of Perspectives: Working collaboratively exposes students to a variety of perspectives and approaches to problem-solving. 

❤️ Communication Skills: Collaborative learning requires effective communication. Students learn to express their ideas clearly, listen actively to others, and engage in constructive dialogue.

❤️ Preparation for the Future: Many careers and professions require the ability to work in teams or small groups. Group projects in elementary school prepare students for future work environments by teaching cooperation, leadership skills, and conflict resolution.

❤️ Differentiated Instruction: Collaborative activities allow you to accommodate various learning styles and abilities. 

❤️ Increased Engagement: Team-based learning often increases student engagement. When students work together on projects or activities, group members are more likely to be motivated and interested in the subject matter. 

❤️ A Positive Classroom Culture: Collaborative work contributes to the creation of a positive and inclusive classroom culture. When students learn from each other and receive support from their peers, they feel a sense of belonging and connection.

What an incredible list of reasons to incorporate collaborative learning experiences into your lesson plans! These kinds of activities are more about the learning process than the finished product. Active participation in group discussions and engaging in collaborative tasks do more for personal development than just about any other learning experience.

Activities To Create A Collaborative Learning Environment

Ready to get started? Here are some examples of collaborative learning activities from actual classroom teachers that you can start using today:

partner work comprehension connection

Carla from Comprehension Connection knows that collaboration is the key to success in any workplace, and there's no better place to start building these skills than in the classroom. She offers several ideas on this topic.

First of all, she loves using learning partnerships with center activities. In her post, How to Make Partner Work Work for All she explains how to use partner plays as a center for added fluency and comprehension work. She also talks more about this in her post, Why Teachers Need Literacy Workstations to Keep Students Engaged. In addition to these classroom activities, you might also consider using literature circles for accountability. As students work with their assigned text, each has a specific job they must complete. Her linked post includes 10 tips on getting started. 

brainstorming activities Keep em thinking

Brainstorming is a thinking skill that encourages creativity, enhances

communication, and builds a foundation for collaborative and independent thinking. It boosts problem-solving skills and nurtures a sense of community in the classroom. Susan at Keep 'em Thinking incorporates brainstorming activities such as creative problem-solving and mind mapping into many activities in her classroom.

In her blog post, 9 Fun Ways to Use Brainstorming Your Students Will Love, Susan talks about the four pillars of brainstorming: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration. She gives tons of examples on different brainstorming strategies and how to use them in your classroom to promote collaboration. This post includes practical and creative ideas to foster critical thinking, boost confidence, and enhance communication skills among students. From encouraging diverse thinking to developing unique ideas, the post is a treasure trove of activities and methods like SCAMPER, Squiggle Lines, and Idea Relay Race to encourage your kiddos to think outside the box.

project based learning sweet integrations

Sandy at Sweet Integrations uses project-based learning as a means for students to collaborate.

Project-based learning can provide an ideal approach to engaging, interdisciplinary learning experiences that help children develop important 21st Century Skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration.

In her post Preparing Students for Project Based Learning, the skills students learn in working in collaborative groups are life-long skills they need in solving complex, real-world problems.

collaborative flowers art project party in the art room

Amanda from Party in the Art Room has so many good ideas for collaborative learning activities for upper elementary students using art. One of the most popular ideas she shares involves creating art for public display in the school building. This Collaborative Flowers project not only encourages collaboration among students, but it also benefits the larger school community.

how to start classroom book clubs literature circles teacher trap

Kady from Teacher Trap loves using Book Clubs to promote collaborative conversations and critical thinking about texts on any subject.

In How to Launch Classroom Book Clubs in One Week: Literature Circles in Action, she shares the power of Book Clubs and how they can transform learning in your classroom. With Book Clubs, the students do the thinking work and challenge each other to dive deeper into the text through small group discussions that build student engagement and better understanding.

collaboration in the content areas

Amy of Amazing Materials for You knows how to keep her students engaged in collaborative learning opportunities in reading, math, and the content areas through project based learning, using critical thinking questions, and using hands-on materials.

In her blog post, 6 Great Activities for Encouraging Collaboration in All Content Areas, she recommends using a variety of teaching approaches to get your students collaborating effectively.

stem collaborative learning projects fishyrobb

For me, the best way to engage students in collaborative projects is through STEM. A proper STEM challenge is one of the best problem-based learning activities there is!

STEM involves careful planning but is so worth it in the end. Student groups work together to complete tasks that involve math, science, design, technology, engineering, and sometimes art - all to reach a common goal.

STEM is a type of active learning that kids LOVE. In fact, I've never had a student who wasn't 100% invested in a STEM learning activity. Higher level problem solving combined with social interaction and hands-on learning is an educational home run with kids! 

Learn more about how I use STEM as an effective collaborative learning tool in my blog post The Best STEM Activities for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Kids

I hope this post has given you some new ideas and ways of using collaborative teaching techniques to boost your students' learning and engagement!

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