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Above Image: Two students lock arms to form a square with a plant in the center

Definition: The skill of working collaboratively requires students to work together with their peers and/ or with adults to achieve a common goal or purpose.

Why is it important?

  • Working collaboratively develops self-awareness about oneself and social awareness of the needs of others.
  • By working collaboratively, students learn how to share materials, take turns and reach consensus.
  • Working with others benefits all members of a group, as each has a role in completing a task successfully.
  • Working collaboratively is interconnected with skills such as planning, conducting, discussing, decision-making, reflecting, and evaluating.

Teaching and Learning Working Collaboratively



Willingly share ideas, questions, experiences and materials with others.

Model the process of sharing ideas and experiences ,asking questions and materials, and provide opportunities for students to practice.

See Think-Pair-Share learning strategy.

Willingly share materials with others.

Discuss ways of sharing materials and provide students with opportunities to practice.

Listen to their peers.

Help student understand their peers by paraphrasing what has been said (if necessary). Encourage students to establish eye contact between speaker and listener, and to let others speak without being interrupted. Model and prompt students to demonstrate respectful listening.

Respond respectfully and appropriately to the actions, ideas, and opinions of others.

Model respectful interactions through role-play scenarios (e.g., grabbing a shovel out of someone’s hand while they are using it is not appropriate, etc.). Encourage the students to contribute their ideas. Employ learning strategies that encourage open and respectful contributions and responses by students.

See Write Around Discussion and Silent Discussion/Graffiti.

Interact equitably during small and large group activities.

Discuss ways of taking turns and provide students with opportunities to practice this. Over time, look for self-regulation in turn taking and equitable and fair distribution of tasks and roles in group work

Fulfill a variety of roles within small and large groups to complete a task.

In some cases, assign roles for a group, and, in other cases, encourage students to determine group roles for themselves.

See Planning Steps Organizer and Five Ws and an H Inquiry Planning learning strategies.

Solve problems together as a group.

Provide groups with problems that they can only solve by working together.

Reach consensus and make decisions as a group.

Have students practice reaching consensus and making decisions in large and small group activities (e.g., planning inquiries and determining roles and responsibilities for conducting inquiries, deciding observation metrics and schedules, choosing inquiry variables, etc.).

See Planning Steps Organizer and Five Ws and an H Inquiry Planning learning strategies.