Setting Up Collaborative Teams

In my last post, I looked at how I set my students up in the Google environment. In this post, I want to look at how I assigned students to teams.

The easiest way to assign students to teams is to simply assign them randomly and wait for the fallout. Left on their own, students have a tendency to socialize, not work toward a common goal. A group without a leader is likely to flounder aimlessly until the very last minute. A group without any technology skills will often implode. To be effective, the groups need to be an appropriate mixture. I needed Batman AND Robin (and maybe Batgirl). They had complimentary skills…experience and youthful enthusiasm….brains and support. Teams that have these types of complimentary skills, are most likely to succeed.

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Google…The Ultimate Bat Tool?


Batman’s utility belt first appeared in 1939. In this comic Batman used a choking gas capsule as part of his arsenal. Since then, the utility belt has expanded to include more and more incredible tools. Batarangs, grapple guns, glue globules and freeze grenades all appeared just in time to save Batman’s bacon.

In a similar manner, tools from Google have appeared and improved to help save my bacon. Until a few months ago, Google Sheets, Docs, and Slides were an afterthought to Microsoft Office. Office offered everything I could possibly want. However, it was often difficult for my students to have those same tools due to cost constraints. In a single class, I might have students using three or four different versions of Microsoft Office. As an instructor, it was difficult to create documentation for those versions…and there were the versions for Apple products to contend with. A simpler solution was to use a free product like Google Sheets or Docs. I could create one handout on a topic…like creating a graph in Sheets…and know that every student would be using the exact same version of Sheets.

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Holy Smokes Batman! What Is That?

That Robin, is project-based learning…”a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.” (Edutopia) Extreme exposure has been known to drive teachers mad.

“Robin and Batman” by ABC Television – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

And there it was the solution to all of my problems…project-based learning. Engage students in a significant activity based on a interesting question (WOP!). Give them scaffolding resources to keep them on track (POW!). Have them complete a realistic assessment to demonstrate their learning (KAPOW!). It was a terrific plan and for a while kept Gotham content and happy(KA-CHING!).

But as everyone knows, Gotham City is filled with an array of nefarious characters ready to defeat the peaceful city. Sometimes powerful measures must be taken to defeat the likes of Riddler, Joker, Catwoman, Egghead, and Penguin.

“Batman villians 1966” by Greenway Productions – eBay

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