Saturday, 2 February 2013

Building Community: Collaboration in Kindergarten

Considering an Elusive Concept: 


Foundation of community

Thomas Sergiovanni writes on the topic of school community. He defines 

community as “people who work in the same place (a community of place), feel a sense of belonging and obligation to one another (a community of friendship), and are committed to a common faith or values (a community of mind)” (p.63). Establishing this collaborative network of relationships takes perseverance but is key to becoming a community. (The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation)

Collaboration as Teamwork

Collaboration is a key component of our classroom. The children collaborate when they are engaged in play at the centers, exploring the outdoors, participating in projects and when engaging in class meetings. It was important for us to teach the children the word “collaborate” and to have the children understand the benefits of collaboration.
The children have had many opportunities to see first-hand the benefits of collaboration. Some of the projects the children collaborated on include, the Collaboroative Colour Collage, the Kite Project, the Enchanted Castle Project, the monthly constructed calendars, the Beautiful Stuff Project, etc. The final products and the skills developed throughout each of these products have given the children many opportunities to see the benefits of collaboration.

Through these projects, the children have created a 

community based on a shared sense of place, mind, 

and friendship.

Children’s Ideas about the Word Collaboration

C.Z.: Collaboration means you work together as a team.
S.M.: Even in centers we try to get beads, when there’s only three people tidying up and more people help to tidy the mess that is collaborating.
E.L.: It means you draw something with some help of friends.
A.L.: When you work you do it together that is what 
collaboration means.
T.K.: Collaboration means you work together.
S.: Work together! 

The Benefits of Collaboration

Why might collaboration be important?

A.L.: Collaboration is important because if you 
don’t, you won’t be a good team and you won’t make something good. You have to do it as a team. I collaborate in the blocks and we made a rocket ship 
that went to outer space!

S.M.: If you are in a center and you don’t help to tidy the class cannot get the bead and when you are working if there is two people you can do it easily and you can finish fast.

A.C.: Collaborate is like when you go and help your friend, that’s collaborating.

T.K.: When you make art, sometimes you need a little help.

The Collaborative Project

This Collaborative Line Drawing is a shared piece that all of the children can feel proud of. As the children worked on the Collaborative Line Drawing they were engaged in conversations that discussed the interesting lines drawn by each other, multiple perspectives on what the finished line drawing looked like and their individual ideas about colour placement.  Their conversations highlighted a sense of respect as they listened to the ideas of their classmates.

“It’s so beautiful!” - T.K.

The children sat in a circle and took turns using a 
black marker to create a line on the paper, when they finished creating their line they held the marker at the end of their line as another child would come up and continue creating his or her own line from where their peer had just left off, this continued until each child had a turn to make a contribution.

Once each child had, had a turn contributing their line 
to the collaborative piece, T.K. exclaimed, “It’s so beautiful! I see an animal.” 

Sharing Multiple Perspectives

What do you see?

The children engaged in a Think-Pair-Share, sharing their perspectives with a partner.

A.C.: I see curly lines and decorations.
C.Z.: I saw in the collaborative line drawing they have a roller coaster with googly eyes, a shark and a dolphin.
A.R.: Zig Zag sharks!
T.K.: I see a slide.
C.L.: It looks like an alligator.
L.M.: a dolphin.
I.G.: At the bottom, a dog that doesn’t have feet.
M.Y.: It looks like a bird with hands.

It was important that we discuss during our meeting the importance of multiple perspectives. Even though we all looked at the same piece of art, we each saw something different. We discussed that even though our ideas are different, each idea is valuable. 

The Product of

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