It seems like every time I turn around some is talking about collaboration. Is this merely a buzz word, or is there something really behind this?? I know the power of collaboration for myself in the fact that I get much more done with a higher quality when I am working with someone else. As we expand that collaborative group there becomes more power in what can be done, but the challenge is organizing that effort.
I would say the first step to collaboration is brain storming ideas. As we throw out ideas, the group can evaluate those ideas. I was in a group that was tasked with creating a new rubric for assessing music performances. As we got more and more on the page the thought changed to using legal rather than letter sized paper. Jokingly I said, why not just go with 11×17 size paper? Sure enough that is what happened. We went with the larger paper and folded it in half to make a letter sized paper that opened up to see the whole rubric on the inside, and had a great cover as well. That initial brainstorming effort should be as many crazy ideas as possible.
The next section is to organize the thoughts into a plan. This is where all those ideas are sorted out to the ones that will be included. A plan is constructed of what will be accomplished. This is where having someone leading the group is really helpful.
Lastly, no one person in the group should have to take on the whole project by themselves. With so many members collaborating is makes sense to divide the work up among the group and have each person do a section. This has come up many times with PLC groups creating common formative assessments with Smart Response. Why would each person create every test. Why not break up the work. I was visiting with a PLC group when I suggested this. They looked at what standards were on the next common formative assessment, they divided those up among the group and each member had to come up with the questions for their standard. This made the work of each participant less.
Below is a TED talk video that really shows the power of what can be accomplished with large scale collaboration. How could similar efforts effect the students at your school? What problems are faced at your school that larger collaborative efforts could help with? With this video, it just made me feel good that I wasn’t wasting my time typing in those two words, but then I started to think about what else could be possible by splitting up the work. Let me know your ideas!