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Collaborative Learning High School English Projects Ideas for your Classroom

written by: lauraleemoss • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 3/2/2012

Collaborative learning is a technique in education based on the idea that two people learn concepts better together than alone. When students collaborate in a high school English course, they learn studying and comprehension techniques from their peers.

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    Set-up

    Students can apply ideas from their peers to grammar, literary terms and summarization. Collaborative learning allows for classroom cohesiveness and bonding experiences that typical lecturing and worksheet formats do not. It also requires preparedness for productive learning.

    Teachers should give students clear expectations. Explain that you want students to discuss ways of working through problems. Encourage students to share their questions with peers, as they often have the same ones.

    Provide tools to aid in the collaborative process. Give a list of questions for each group. If all students are to participate in the activity, perhaps assign each group a checklist.

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    Grammar

    Students often dread the objective nature of grammar. They see it as challenging and boring. Encourage students to learn from each other with collaborative exercises.

    Break grammar concepts into different categories. Most grammatical ideas, such as the eight parts of speech, types of verbs, pronouns, sentences, phrases and clauses, can be broken down. Divide these categories and allow students to work collaboratively in different ways, such as identifying all the pronouns in a short story.

    Prepare a lesson. Turn students into teachers. Assign them a grammar concept, give them time to study it, and prepare a lesson for the rest of their classmates. They will make visual aids to enhance their lessons. They should be ready to answer questions as well.

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    Literary Terms

    Students should analyze all novels, short stories or nonfiction works. One analytical approach is through literary terms. 'Literary terms' is a wide term that encompasses ways authors tell stories and the specifics that make a story interesting. Examples include character, theme, figurative language, conflict, irony, suspense, flashback and foreshadowing.

    Graffiti literary terms. When a class uses 'graffiti' the teacher divides the class into groups and assigns each group a different term. For instance, if the class wanted to look at the novel A Separate Peace the teacher could divide the class into five groups, assign the literary terms theme, characters, conflict, irony and setting and allow the groups time to analyze the novel in relation to its assigned literary term. Groups would put examples and ideas on a section of the classrom's wall or board for further analysis or review, giving the appearance of graffitti.

    Literary term review. Give students a list of literary terms as a review at the end of a story. Partner students and allow them to find an example for each term. Combine students into larger groups for further exchange of examples.

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    Summarization

    A final area for collaborative learning in high school English classes is with a story's facts and information, or summarization.

    After breaking students into collaborative groups, here are some activities for story summarization.

    Summarize with graphic organizers. Give each collaborative group a different kind of graphic organizer, focusing on different comprehension points. Have a graphic organizer for characters, conflicts, time lines and vocabulary. Each group should summarize their topic. After doing so, have the class collaborate. Either make copies of the graphic organizers for all students or allow time for each group to present their collaborative work.

    Summarize with text questions. Many textbooks and novels list summarization questions at the end of each story. Instead of allowing students to answer them individually, let them work with a collaborative team. Working together, students will answer them with depth and thought. Teacher made questions also work with this exercise. Additionally, students can write summarization questions. Have collaborative groups answer their own questions or switch with another team and answer their questions.


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