Facilitate and Collaborate

Another week, and another task that I am overly familiar with. Thank you COETAIL, the timing is proving to be most convenient for me. I have used Kagan cooperative learning structures for a few years now. I am aware that cooperation and collaboration aren’t entirely the same, but they do have a few things in common, like working together to achieve a common goal for starters. I am also in the process of reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Franklin Covey; and the first chapter is on interdependence, which lends itself immensely to collaboration.

High Standards

I have selected the ISTE standard of 4.d. Demonstrate cultural competency when communicating with students, parents and colleagues and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning.” for the focus of the student learning experiences. I used a variety of cooperative learning structures and technology to achieve this.

Find Someone Who

Now, to get to the actual experiences that I employed for the learning structures. To begin the lesson I went with a little structure called Find Someone Who. This is how it rolled:

A vector graphic of two people. One holding a computer, the other a checklist
  1. First I modelled the structure with my co-teacher.
  2. Next, I gave my students a sheet of paper that had questions relating to skills and techniques used in iMovie.
    • They will need these skills to complete the summative task later on. 
  3. They each have to find a different person in the class who knows an answer to each one of the questions*. 
  4. As they progress through the structure, they are learning new things. Namely, answers to the questions, and who is confident with the different skills.
  5. It all finishes with a reflection together as a large group.

*Time limit was set to 8 minutes. The structure was completed to some delightful mall music, to add to the ambiance of the experience…

I love this structure as it serves as an ice breaker, builds rapport and gets the students up and moving around the classroom; see the Collaborative Learning article. And all of this leads to deeper learning!


The next part of the lesson, I split the students into predetermined groups based on the following criteria. Please note that a good chunk of this was lifted from Cultural Competence for Educators, particularly: Valuing diversity and dynamics of difference. In fact, reading this was a great refresher for this international educator.

  1. The 18 students were split into 5 groups. 
  2. Three groups of 4 with an even gender split / One group of 3, 2 boys and 1 girl / One group of three boys
  3. The groups were further diversified according to their home country (Malaysia, Sweden, USA, Japan, China, France, Finland) and then by Engligh Phase. I.e. no two English Phase 1 students in the same group. 
  4. New students, i.e. students who just started at our school, were not placed in the same group, so as to promote making bonds with existing students.
  5. Also, each group contained students who had expressed confidence in iMovie, based on the Find Someone Who exercise; no more than 2 per group in the groups of 4, and 1 in the group of 3.
  6. Each group member was then given a role, in order to promote equal participation.
  • Roles
    • Gate Keeper: make sure everyone participates equally.
    • Time Keeper: kept people on time.
    • Praiser: use praise to acknowledge responses.
    • Reflector: paraphrases each group members responses (not phase 1 students).

I instructed the Gate Keeper, to join a Nearpod lesson that I had created. The Nearpod lesson contained 3 questions and a link to an exemplar video*; similar to what they would be creating. We then watched the video together as a class (twice), before moving onto the critique stage. *Students could watch the video later in the lesson, as and when needed.

Talking Chips

A picture of chips (fries if you are American).
Photo by Gilly on Unsplash

Students worked collaboratively for the critique stage. I adapted a structure known as talking chips to facilitate this. Each student was given one chip. After we watched the video together, I gave the students some time to first discuss and then jot down all their ideas (time keeper and praiser stepped up). During this time, I encouraged that they use their active listening skills (led by the reflector) so that they fully understood what each person had to say; and helps to build mutual respect and rapport.

Then, each student answered one of the following questions. Groups of 3 students had to answer all 3. Groups of 4 students, had to answer all 3, plus any other question twice (monitored by reflector and gate keeper). These questions where:

  1. Which iMovie technique did you notice being used?
  2. What did you like about the movie, and why (Warm)?
  3. What could you improve and why (Cool)?

The responses were all entered into Nearpod by each student individually, given that they shared one computer; this was deliberate to encourage group work. It was just fantastic because it removed the embarrassment factor of having to answer in front of the class. Afterwards, the students viewed all the responses from every one of their peers in the class. My intention is that they keep this information and use it later on when creating their own movies on borders. In addition to the technology, the talking chips also helped serve as a visual reminder of students who had participated.


The key question of “how did you co-learn with the students?” was particularly interesting regarding the active listening section of the talking chips phase. Each group had a copy of mind tools’ active listening graphic, which served as a reminder on how to listen. I sat down with each group, assuming the role of another active listener, and to help coach the students who were not familiar with the process. They found step 3 the most challenging, as they still building up a repository of feedback vocabulary; I find that adults struggle with step 4 of this process.