Collaborative learning is being used in classrooms around the world in various subjects. While competitive learning, in which the student reflects more on his or her own work than that of others, can be used in art, collaborative learning gives students the opportunity to learn new skills while working together.
For instance, collaborative learning can help students sharpen their social skills. It teaches them how to work together as a team, how to bounce ideas back and forth, and how to cope when the group decides on something that wasn’t their idea. For competitive students, this is especially important.
Collaborative learning also gives students the chance to hone in on their critical thinking and problem solving skills. When faced with a problem, they work together to sift through the facts and come to the best conclusion possible.
There are many ways to incorporate collaboration into your classroom. The best way, perhaps, is to incorporate collaboration on a daily basis. Ask groups an open-ended question to hear them work together to create an answer. Integrating collaborative learning into your classroom will make it so that students learn to be open-minded yet critically think together.
Collaborative learning is student-led, and in most cases, students are put into a group. These group learning experiences work best when they include hands-on interaction, which art lends itself beautifully to. This method of learning is an exceptional way to sharpen and strengthen critical thinking and problem solving.
For example, one way to encourage collaborative learning is to introduce group skill-building activities. You might demonstrate a new skill before the entire class. For instance, you might show them how to blend colours to achieve new colours. Then, you would put the students into groups. Each group would experiment together to achieve new colours, as well. While the group was exploring new colours, you would walk around to each group and ask open-ended questions. You would also be monitoring the students’ feedback. This method of casual guidance ensures that the project at hand stays on task without coming between the students as the collaborate. Once each group was done, you’d have them present their findings together as a group.
Another way to incorporate collaborative learning in an art class setting is to put together groups for working on a public art display. This could be a sculpture for the school or a mural for a local building. Working on a communal piece of art together means that students get to work together to decide the overall vision of the piece while collaborating on the details. As before, you can offer casual guidance without overtaking the project.
Another excellent way to incorporate collaboration into your classroom is to break the class into groups for a little competition. This competition can be any sort of artistic demonstration, so long as the students are working together. For instance, you could give each group five minutes to build something. Or, you could have them race to build something the fastest. Other team games could include creating a portrait based on a style you’ve just covered or just coming up with a creative solution to an everyday problem.
Art truly knows no bounds, and so you can use collaborative learning to merge essentially any other topic with art. The most important thing to remember is that students want to take the initiative at some time or another. When they are working in groups, natural leaders will take the helm, but creative thinkers will also have a place to discuss their thoughts. If you notice that one student is hanging back, encourage them to take the lead.
Your role in collaborative learning is to put your students into well thought out groups and provide the structure and resources they will need to complete their goals. Always model how critical thinking works to ensure that they are able to do the same in their groups. Collaborative learning is a way in which students can practice communication skills and flex their artistic muscles while discovering new things about themselves. For instance, a student might discover a new role that he or she enjoys.
Collaborative learning also increases self esteem while helping students prepare for real-life situations. Not only are students challenged in this role, but they are also able to challenge each other and expand learning. The benefits of this style of learning are deeply meaningful for students’ future academic and career success!