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spacer (1K) My Little World: Collaborative Problem Solving in Action
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The concepts behind My Little World are extendable to any class.  Some ideas for success:

 

1.  Group Formation.  Educators know that any method of forming groups has trade-offs.  This is particularly true in cross-class collaboration.  I advise that you to allow students to self-categorize based on interests, values, self-described talent or some criteria that is reasonably consistent.  That way when you put the mega-groups together people will have commonalities around which to build relationships and collaborate.  This is a good opportunity for people in different social groups to connect and discover one another.

 

2.  Points.  Some educators may think that allocating 50% of the points for participation to be out of balance.  My experience is that this weighting encourages a higher level of overall participation and result in better deliverables. 

 

3.  Multiple Attempts.  This project needs to repeated so the students can apply the skills and techniques they discover along the way.  I suggest starting with a simple exercise with one deliverable, preferably something you can do in class.  Help the students focus on the process as much as the deliverable; have them assess what worked and what didn't. 

 

4.  Teacher Role.  This model relies on the students to self-direct their learning; particularly in the development of their approach to collaboration.  The teacher has several key roles, though.  It starts with selling the idea and why these skills matter.  Structuring the exercise, the strategy for group formation, and choosing a collaborative tool so all groups have a way to start are vital.  Finally, during exercise, the teacher needs to help students mediate conflict, act as a "pollinator" spreading best practices, provide some direction re content, and generally keep things on beam.

 

5.  Scaffolding Skills.  We were able to conduct this rich, self-directed exercise because we spent the year developing the requisite skills .  By the time we got to this project, the students didn't have to think about HOW to research topics, create an information taxonomy, create digital art, make effective presentations, build collaborative web sites, or coordinate with large groups.  Instead they were able to concentrate on what they wanted to accomplish.

 

Whether you decide to run a similar project or not, best of luck to you.  Teaching is the most wonderful, joyous, rewarding profession in the universe and we're all lucky to have the opportunity.

Mark Gross

Social Science Teacher

grossm@esuhsd.org

 

 

 

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