English - Collaboration is the key

Tes Editorial

What the lesson is about

Collaboration is a buzz word that has been on the lips of senior managers for a few years now. It is, we are told, the future of education, writes Adam Webster.

It is certainly a requisite for staff at one of the world's most forward- thinking companies, Google, which asks its employees to be two things: communicators and collaborators.

Beyond the obvious discussion-based activities, collaboration in English is a challenge. But there are several free writing programs - Google Docs and PBworks to name just two - that give pupils an opportunity to think and write together.

The programs work well with senior classes in particular, as students can write and edit in small groups. They - and the teacher - can track changes and see exactly who has done what.

The discussion often moves from the online world to the classroom, especially when students want to argue about why someone else has deleted the paragraph they have written. This brings a real depth of thought to what makes content valuable.

This is useful for peer assessment, but teachers can also provide feedback, which should make the finished work more informed and complete. Another bonus is that the work is "cloud" based and so cannot be lost or forgotten.

You will need to guide students on the first few occasions but they soon learn how to approach the task. And if collaboration is the future of the workplace, we are doing them a disservice if we fail to provide them with these opportunities.

What else?

Watch Adam Webster's online video tutorial on PBworks. Alternatively, read his article on English 2.0 for more ideas to prepare your pupils for the 21st-century workplace.

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