2. The "Collaboration Always Wins" Exercise:
After students have completed their first reading assignment, tell them you will be doing an activity to help them understand why collaborating on reading assignments can be an effective strategy. Ask everyone in the class to take out a piece of paper and list as many ideas, concepts, vocabulary terms--basically anything to do with the reading--as they can in 10 minutes. Before they get started, select 4-5 students from the class and instruct them to work in the hallway as a group to create one list. The students who remain in the classroom each create an individual list. Then, invite the group to return to the classroom and compare their collaborative results with the individual students' lists. Whoever has the most detailed list wins.

Typically, the group will outperform those who work individually, and you can discuss why they were able to do so, including how:

  • The collaborative process allows more ideas to be generated and with more speed.
  • Collaboration improves the quality of ideas because groups correct misinformation and biases.
  • Some group members will remember things other members don't.

If for some reason the group doesn't win, you can still use this exercise as a way to discuss what may have impeded success and what could be done to improve group dynamics.