• Training Tips
  • Classroom Management

Collaborative Learning

An important piece of our pedagogy is our emphasis on collaborative learning. Our extensive research shows peer-to-peer instruction and discussion is critical to student learning. It helps internalize concepts and creates a natural fluency with academic vocabulary when students use it with each other. We recently ran across an article that provides some great tips and tools to help with the use of our T-Graph, Team Tasks, and Expert Group presentations.

T-Graph for Norms


In the article, Getting the Most out of Group Work* by Anne Vilen, she suggests setting norms for discussions for every grade level. Specifically, she emphasizes what it looks and sounds like, which are the 2 basic elements of our T-Graph. We would suggest as she does using norms and rules such as Roberts Rules of Order, Parliamentary Procedure, and other real world applications for your T-Graph.

Team Tasks

Some other helpful tools for your classroom management during Team Tasks are clear expectations for tasks such as our Team Task Menu and Team Task Color Key. It establishes the 'To Do' list for teams to focus and sets up accountability for all students to contribute. We recommend starting with easier tasks first so students learn to work collaboratively and learn the 'rules' before moving to more challenging tasks.


The more challenging tasks may include team Inquiry Charts, Expert Research, and Action Plans (project-based research). It's easier for students to have demanding academic conversations about complex topics if they already are familiar with the rules on how to discuss and debate.

Team Reflections

Sentence frames and stems along with discussion rubrics can be used to encourage all students to discuss and respond appropriately. These can be put into the T-Graph, but also used in Literacy Reinforcers, Scouts with the 3 Personal Standards, Poetry (sentence frames), and Team Evaluations that can be found in our Language & Literacy Packet authored by Marcia Brechtel.


The article* (link below) has other helpful tools and printable ideas listed. If you'd like support in setting up collaborative learning within your district or school, contact our Director of Trainings Noshaba Afzal ( or sign up for a session.

*Vilen, Anne. (2017, November 9). Getting the Most out of Group Work. ACSD Express, Volume 13, Issue 5. Retrieved from


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