Top 4 teacher-recommended edtech projects that encourage student collaboration
January 28, 2020
School is back in session, and your students are buzzing with post-break energy. Some of the educators we partner with have offered advice on how to channel this excitement into something positive and powerful through collaborative learning activities.
Collaborative learning builds skills that are important for college and career readiness, such as active listening, clear expression of one’s ideas, group consensus building and decision making, and more. For tips on helping students get the most out of their collaborative learning projects, see our blog post, “Are Your Students Prepared for Their Future Careers? Discover How Collaborative Learning Can Impact College and Career Readiness”
Incorporating technology into collaborative projects further hones students’ tech skills — and through the power of LanSchool’s classroom management software, can actually make it easier to keep an eye on their progress. Here are four tech-based collaborative learning projects fellow educators have recommended for your classroom. Note that these projects are meant for 4th-8th graders but can be easily modified for other grades.
1. Write and design a class newspaper
Creating a digital newspaper or newsletter is a great way for students to practice skills like information gathering, spatial reasoning, photo editing, vocabulary and writing, in addition to the many interpersonal skills students will need in order to reach a final product.
The class should start by brainstorming topics for their newsletter, such as a profile of an interesting student (e.g. a sports star or class leader); a school holiday calendar; a top ten list of cafeteria foods; or even entertainment news and reviews. Once they’ve come up with 10 to 12 ideas, have them vote on their favorite 5 to 7.
Then, you’ll need to either assign roles or have the students choose roles. You can work through the project in stages, where all students are working on writing assignments in small groups, then they all simultaneously move on to collaborating on design. Or, you can select some students to be editors and some to be designers, with all students working simultaneously. In this case, design teams will need to communicate closely with writing teams about the approximate length of each piece, depending on the space they’ve allotted for each article.
Tools: Microsoft Word newsletter templates, Flipsnack, or any other page layout programs you have available
Tip: Use LanSchool’s voting feature to encourage class collaboration on which ideas to write about.
2. Invent something new
Have fun and test your class’ creativity by teaching students the power of design thinking and problem solving by splitting the class into groups of 4 to 5 students and challenging them to invent a new product or application.
They should start by identifying a problem they’d like to solve. Then, as a small group, they can brainstorm 3 or 4 ways to solve it. As part of their assignment, ask students to research potential competitors and the customer base for their product to ensure there’s market demand. Students should also consider the pricing of their item and provide a justification for that value. And if you really want to bring real-world learning to this assignment, require that students solve a problem they actually see in their community.
In the last 15 minutes, students should take turns “pitching” their group’s inventions or solutions to the entire class. The class should then act like investors and vote for a project other than their own that they’d like to “invest in.”
Tools: Microsoft PowerPoint, drawing software of your choice
Tip: Did you know LanSchool has a broadcast screen feature? Use it to have students share their PowerPoint while they present to the class.
One class period projects
1. Create a comic strip
If you’re looking for a quicker project for students to do in groups, you can ask them to create a comic strip that demonstrates something they learned in class last semester. This is particularly effective for science lessons, as students can depict a physical process, such as the journey of a raindrop or the stages of growth of an embryo from cell division to birth.
You can either assign them a topic or allow them to discuss within their group and decide together. Students should think about how to convey their information using simple images, which they can draw or pull from the Internet. Text should be kept to a minimum.
This is a great opportunity for some of your more visually gifted students to shine, while also reinforcing lessons they’ve learned in your class.
Tip: Keep students on task but inspired by pushing certain comic and educational websites to them for inspiration. Bonus points for sending them unique resources based on the specific group’s topic.
2. Play “Desert Island”
If you haven’t tried it already, the classic desert island problem solving scenario is an engaging way to get students thinking critically.
Draw an island on the whiteboard or broadcast an image of an island to students’ screens. Divide them into groups of 3 or 4 and give them 30 minutes to discuss and draw what three items they could bring to help them survive on a desert island. Be sure to place limitations (e.g. They can’t say “a boat” to escape).
At the end of the half-hour, each group should present the drawings of the three items they chose and explain why they chose them. Then, have students vote on the best three items from the entire class.
Tools: Microsoft PowerPoint, drawing software of your choice
Tip: Looking for a way to make this project more challenging? Create a group chat for each group in LanSchool and require students to only communicate over chat. This will give them real–world collaboration experience in a tech-forward world.
Ready to use LanSchool to help develop collaboration skills in your classroom? Start a trial here.
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