Thank you for stopping by Ramona Recommends today. I am so happy you are here. Today, I will be sharing how I teach students to collaborate in the classroom. Collaboration is a learned skilled that must be taught throughout the year to be most successful. This year I want my students to RISE UP to the occasion and collaborate freely in the classroom. How does this happen? LOTS of modeling and praising our students for a job well done.

I was sitting in my sister's living room watching the new AT&T commercial and my ears perked up when I heard the song Rise Up by Andra Day. It literally stopped me in mid scroll. Wow! I thought to myself what a beautiful song. I googled the commercial and found her music video. Listening to the words a teaching idea danced in my brain.

One area I would like to work on this school year is building ACTIVE collaboration in my classroom. What does that mean? I want my students to be active participates in their education. When someone is sharing a thought I want to them to be actively engaged and then respond with meaning. Too many times students are not listening to their peers and are on to something else. This year that is going to change in room 20. Here is what I plan to do!

At the beginning of the year, I do a back to school boot camp teaching ALL my rules and procedures. One of my rules is #beawesome which then gets broken down into A LOT mini rules. One of the tiers of #beawesome is collaboration which brings me to my COLLABORATION lesson. I bet you can guess what the lesson starts with. Yep! You are correct a picture book.

I read  Pig the Pug to introduce my collaboration lesson. *Amazon affiliate link used.

*I am telling you there is a picture book for everything*. 

If you are unfamiliar with Pig the Pug, it is a wonderful story that teaches a lesson on working together and learning from each other. Pig the pug has a hard time sharing his toys with his friend Trevor the wiener dog.  One of my favorite lines in the story is, "But it might be more fun, " Trevor said to Pig, "if we both played together..." "Well, Pig flipped his wig."

I don't know about you, but a lot of students are in this same situation. They do not like to work together and would rather work alone. In a world where communication is leading the charts, we as teachers MUST teach our students how to collaboratively communicate in this creative world. 

After we read the story, we discuss what went wrong and where there was no collaboration. Then I have my students work in groups to discuss how could Pig and Trevor work together to have harmony in their household.
While picture books are my jam, so are feel good songs. I found this INCREDIBLE video for the US Olympic team with music by Andra Day. All the team work in this video has me like dancing around my office. The main goal I want my students to see when they watch this video is WE MUST WORK TOGETHER in order to grow. Want to watch the video? Open the magic HERE. Please play the video before showing it your students to make sure it matches your school climate. 

Next, I ask my students to think about what does collaboration mean to them. They write it down in their planner and I have them look at it through out the year. Collaboration means working together to grow. I truly believe in order to grow you must teach your students how to effectively work together when winning or failing. 

The last activity we do for this lesson is called, "Just chatting". I make all the students line up in the back of the room and I pass out a partner card from my LETS STICK TOGETHER partner cards.

Each student gets a card and then when I say "collaborate" they start looking for their match, but they are not allowed to talk. It is a silent collaboration. Once each pair meets, they find two empty desks or floor seats. Then they start just chatting. I give them the first 1-2 minutes to just chat. This can sometimes be painful because some kids do not like to talk. That is when I bust out Jen Jones' 87 Praise Phrases.

 I start walking around the room and for the students who are actively collaborating I say, "Way to Go" or "You're going to college". This gets them SUPER excited. When the two minutes are up, I then begin my pre-made questions. Here are some examples of questions:
1. What did you do this summer? 
2. Last year, what was your favorite event?
3. If you could be any animal, what would it be? 
The questions are so simple because I want the students to be actively listening and not worried about having to dig too deep (for now). We also practice on how to do follow up questions.

If we want our students to collaborate when it gets tough, we need to give them the chance to learn how to effectively communicate with their peers on their terms.

Just a thought! If you have some students who are too good at collaborating, try SHARE cards. I created these a few years ago for a student who loved to share. When I say LOVE. It was LOVE! Each student gets 4 cards during a subject to share out. On the flip-side, you can even use these for students who do not like to speak.

How do you teach collaboration in your classsroom?

Learning how to save money and spend money is a vital life skill for kids. I have partnered with T. Rowe and Scholastic to bring you a resource to help your students learn about money while they read online.

The Starbanks Adventure is a FREE online game and mobile app that teaches students about basic financial concepts through through through a Sci Fi adventure.

It is SUPER easy to set up! All you have to do is....
First, set up a classroom using the Teacher Dashboard and assign students their unique User Id.
Now, have the students access the game online at[]) or by downloading the mobile app.
Once they have accessed the game, look for the Game option, then Classroom ModeStudent Login.
Next, students will need both the classroom name that you created for the classroom and
also their assigned username.

When I played the game, my favorite two games were from Setting A Financial Goal and Prioritizing Spending. Both of these sections in the game, made the students think about creating a financial goal. These parts in the app also made the students prioritize what items they needed and what items were "wants", which is a great life skill even for teachers. #yesineedthoseflairpens The app created student-friendly terminology. While I like the app and I think it is beneficial for life long learners, I do believe it is for high level thinkers. Many of the concepts students have never even heard of. One tip I would suggest- to play this game as a class and have the teacher walking the students through the information.

When I played the game, my favorite levels were Setting a Financial Goal and Prioritizing Spending. Both of these sections in the game made the students think about what goes into creating a financial goal. These parts in the app also made the students prioritize what items they needed and what items were "wants," which is a great life skill even for teachers. #yesineedthoseflairpens The app introduced student-friendly terminology to teach important concepts that many students had never even heard of.

If you are unsure whether or not to download this app, I encourage you to take the leap of faith. It can never been too early to share with students about how the real world works.I would suggest playing this game as a class and having the teacher walk the students through the instructions. I also recommend this game to be used during center time or assigned as an early finisher choice.

MONEY CONFIDENT KIDS, STAR BANKS ADVENTURE and T. ROWE PRICE are registered trademarks of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc.  SCHOLASTIC and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.  All rights reserved.

This post was sponsored by Scholastic and T. Rowe Price, but the ideas are all my own. 

Want your students to love reading? I am going to share 8 ways to create a positive reading community in your classroom.  It is vital for your students to see how much you love reading.  SHOW YOUR KIDS YOU LOVE TO READ. It all starts with the teacher. Teachers are role models for their students and it is our job to  OPEN THE MAGIC! *Amazon Affiliate Links are used in this post to help Ramona Recommends bring more picture book recommendations to you. Thank you!

1. What is the TEACHER READING
-During the school year I share with my students what books I am reading. Most of the time, they are children's picture books and chapter books. I love using children's literature through out my day in the classroom. I do A LOT of reading to see how I can fit most books into my curriculum. 
 Disrupting Thinking

My kids know picture books are my jam. My total count is a little over 2,000 books in my home office. I entitled my library OPEN THE MAGIC! I want them to know I love love love reading! Want to see my old Open the Magic library? Below you can see a few of the new pictures.

I get asked daily: is this your own library and how to do use organize all your picture books? The answer is yes, but more about that later. Here is the short story how I organize- purchase: input into excel spreadsheet: put which picture books I want to use while I teach into my picture book resource binder. Want to see some previews, click here! Maybe you want to get super organized this year? The Picture Book Resource Binder will do just that.

Once a month or weekly I have book chats with my students. I ask them what books they are reading. Sometimes they learn about books quicker than I do. They help me create my recommendation lists.  Need More? I have some here too. Gets kids talking about reading. The more the students see the passion you have for reading the more likely they will sure to foster their own relationship with books.

Pink is for Blobfish (non-fiction picture book for the win)
Dragons Love Tacos 2 (you just need it)
For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's Story (non-fiction picture book for the second win)

Create a Recommendation Wall for the kid to recommend to each other. We all know kids like reading what their peers read. Last year, one boy read Prisoner B-3087 and then all the rest of the boys started to read it. They even had mini book clubs at lunch. My student did a recommendation binder this year called Bubblicious Book Reviews. They were required to write at least 3, but many words 10-15 reviews. 

Show your kids picture of you shopping the Scholastic Warehouse Sale
 Go through the catalog each month and pick 5 books you would recommend. Staple on to catelog sheet and send home.  

Read Alouds are KEY to any classroom instruction. They are just as important as teaching multiplication. Students are able to hear fluent reading, see how to make connections, get lost in the reading, and learn about new books. This year I am going to start off by reading Class Dismissed
 Class Dismissed is about a fifth grade class that becomes teacher less. The teacher has had enough of their silly, but funny escapades. The 5th graders must figure out how to run a classroom. While reading it last year, it made laugh out loud. There is plenty of figurative language and rich description. The reason I want to read this book first, is build a positive reading relationship with my class. This book is not serious, but will allow the students to enjoy and learn at the same time.

7. Silent Reading Time

8. Picture Books For Days
 I am a fifth grade teacher and use picture books to help open, guide, and inspire my lessons. One Cool Friend is great to teach students how to correctly use quotations while writing. I introduced my lesson with this book. The book sat nicely on my document camera so I was easily able to show my students each quotation mark and explain the purpose.

By the way, do you follow me on instagram? I put many picture recommendations on my weekly feed and instagram stories. During the year, its my jam! Ramona Recommends Instagram

Are you teaching opinion writing? Check out I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufmann Orloff. Does a great job teaching the opinion writing style (opinion, reason, backup). The kids think it is hilarious and can relate well to new siblings joining the family.

The United States of America- is a great book for students to use when learning about the United States.
 Read a picture book a day JUST FOR FUN! Not everything you do in your classroom needs a standard behind it. Reading picture books just for fun can build a strong classroom community. 
Want to know more books to help build a strong classroom community?

Back to Top