I’ve been around long enough, talking about student collaboration, to know that some educators find getting students to work together a challenge. But today I witnessed levels of high student engagement around what I thought was a complex set of tasks. A worksheet helped keep these tasks organized for members of the teams. Except they weren’t really teams. They were rock bands.
As part of the #rockyourschool day at Randolph Elementary School, Ms. Eastwood, Ms. Gates, Ms. Vaughan and Ms. Demas supervised these bands toward coming up with a band name, designing a CD cover, creating a band logo, and creating a cover song using GarageBand. This was after the students got a demonstration and got to ask questions from the guitarist of Carbon Leaf.
It’s always interesting to walk into a learning space and notice that the students pay no attention to you (whether or not I have a camera in hand). They’re interacting with one another, they’re deeply engaged in a task on their iPad, or they’re relaying their progress to one of the adults in the room. The theme around rock bands made the whole day special, but what really made the event sing (pun intended) was the emphasis placed on how we can cultivate group work (collaboration, cooperation, teamwork).
All the groups weren’t perfect. Some were great in working toward one of the team’s goals. But some of those goals required conversations. Compromises. And trying to overcome one idea to accommodate another. The songs they were creating had to represent their band, and every decision was tied to a book the students were reading.
I feel blessed to be able to witness these learning events firsthand. Beyond the obvious creativity these teachers had to plan the lesson and the entire day, they took risks in implementing new activities that championed deeper learning. And it didn’t hurt that so many students were having an awesome day!