Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I don't know about you, but we are constantly trying to teach our students how to collaborate with each other. By the time the students get to middle school, they should know how to work well in groups and be able to hold high leveled conversations. How do they get there? That's what I am struggling with this year. The CCSS hold students responsible for group work, but how can I make my students comfortable working in groups? What about the students who struggle to speak out, who are always absent, or even the other students who like to sit back and relax and let others do the work?

My first idea was to create a rubric to guide and remind my students of their responsibilities and expectations while collaborating in a group.(You can download a pretty version of the rubric for FREE at our TPT store!)

I developed this rubric with my students needs in mind. We are studying empathy in our weekly Social/Emotional program, Second Step. I try to incorporate that information in my lessons with any chance I get.

I introduced the students to the vocabulary used in the rubric and held them responsible for completing the rubric with a reflection as an exit slip whenever groups met in class. If the students did not complete all of their tasks, they had to come up with a plan of action on the back. I would then check in with that student during the next group meeting and remind them of their plan to become a Star Student for the day. When the students do complete all of their tasks during group time, they explained on the back of the card, one of the tasks they completed. The card then gets folded and put into a raffle jar. Once a week I pick a few rubrics out of the jar and the students earn prizes.

My students really bought into this idea and it turned into a great collaborative motivator. I liked it because not only were they able to keep track of their participation, but also I was able to monitor student progress constantly. I wasn't worried about students "cheating" because the group would tattle if someone entered the raffle and had not fully participated that day. These were also great to show at conferences because the parents were able to see where their child was lacking in participation.

I hope this rubric works for you! Please let me know if you gave it a try or comment to tell me your tips on collaboration!


  1. Hi There! Following you now:) I found your blog through my nightly blogstalking. I am always so happy to see quality posts from upper elementary bloggers! Now, I have a little song for you..."Walk Walk Walk, Walk in their shoes!" Do you use the new version of second step? If so, this has already been stuck in your head! We use the program and have for years. I was so happy that our district upgraded to the new digital version. The songs and lessons are great!

    Anyway, have you tried to target one aspect of group work like "doing your part" and talking to the kids about what each level (on a 1-4 scale) would be? Target whatever part of group work that gives them the most trouble.

    What does a "1" look like? Not paying attention to what your job is. Not writing the things down that the others in the group are...etc. Talk about each level and so on until you get to the exact behavior you expect at the "4". They could write a 1-4 on the line of your rubric.

    This is what I do to really make a big deal out of the behavior. We make an anchor chart to display and check in a few times during each group activity.

    Great post!
    My Teacher Friend

  2. Hi Brandi,

    Thanks for stopping by and following us! I loved your comment and it made me laugh because I know exactly what you are talking about with Second Step. We are currently on the, “Stop, name your feeling, calm down!” unit. I’d like teaching Second Step more if my students actually applied the strategies being taught to actual situations in their everyday life! The funnier part is that some of my students are actually afraid of the music video for this unit. There is a very fake and animated talking brain and it actually made a girl sick and go to the nurse. Now she is scared of Second Step.

    What a great idea about creating an anchor rubric. We have done the, “This is what a “1” looks like” many times for open ended responses, writing prompts, and other academic procedures, but I never considered it for behavior besides voice levels. Love it and will have to try it!

    Thanks again for the comment and don’t be a stranger around here!


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