5. Skills Considerations

When collaborative groups are developed students should practice the specific skills needed to work in a collaborative group. Health skills like accessing information, decision making, goal setting, communication (assertive communication, negotiation), self management, and advocacy are all key skills that students should be taught and practiced through effective collaborative teams. Below you will find a simple framework and a flow chart for teams to use as they get started on their collaborative work. 

Word document for student handout represented below 


Teaching Progression

Teaching Considerations/Examples

Makes and follows agreements


Students in the group need to be able to develop agreements that everyone can use during the process.  These might include:

    • Makes agreements about how the team works
    • Rules for discussions
    • Rules for making group decisions or develop consensus
    • Rules for how to resolve conflicts
    • Appropriately takes action when agreements are broken
    • Attempts to resolve issues without adult help

Agreements need to be general and written in the positive.  Practice needs to happen in being able to stand up to team members that are breaking the agreements.  They also need to understand that before they go to a teacher, they need to make sure they have tried to solve the problem first.

Organizes work


  • When a group is collaborating, they need to be organized and have accountability for their work.  This area includes:
  • Assign roles for with a task list for each member
  • Set a schedule in order to meet deadlines
  • Work is divided fairly and evenly between members
  • Materials are organized
  • Members use their time wisely


The students need set concrete roles, check in dates, and places to keep materials.  The group will have more success if the teacher controls the “chunking” of the activity in order to create the whole product. 

Personal Responsibility


    • Is prepared and ready to work
    • Uses technology to complete work
    • Completes tasks on time and without being reminded
    • Uses feedback from others to improve work

One of the areas that is the most difficult for middle school is the ability to give feedback so that it is not perceived as being mean or a put down.  A suggestion would be to teach the students to give a positive first, then give the idea for improvement.  Time also needs to be spent on how to give the feedback and accept criticism.

Work as a whole team


As a team, members need to use the talents of each member.  If any ideas or products are developed individually, they are brought back to the group for feedback.

    • Uses special talents of each member
    • Creates products with the help of all members
    • Work done separately is brought to the group for critique and revision

Even though students will gravitate towards roles they feel comfortable with, it is okay for them to try different jobs that they might not feel they can accomplish.  Teachers can also make sure projects for collaboration have a menu of possible products.

Respects others



Respecting others allows the group to focus on the final product.

    • Treats teammates politely
    • Listens to other points of view
    • Respects others perspectives
    • Disagrees appropriately
    • Compromises

Time needs to be spent teaching students polite ways to disagree. They also need to be made aware of the fact that they are working together for a common goal--not becoming best friends.

Helps the team


Successful collaboration also involves help from all members.

    • Following rules and asking questions
    • Providing feedback to others in the group
    • Helping others who need it
    • Solves problems and manages conflicts
    • Contributes effectively to discussions
    • Helps others that need it

This is important for the teacher to monitor this throughout the collaboration activity.  One other issue is that if a student is having difficulty doing their part, the student needs to make sure they are helping, rather than taking over and doing the whole project.


Collaboration Flowchart Organizer



Assign Roles:






Set and establish agreements for the group.



Identify the task or final product.



How to make decisions

Team member accountability

Asking for help


Final Product:

Recognize successes

Discuss challenges



Step 1:  Assign Roles:  Take a look at the roles and decide who is going to responsible in your group.




Person Responsible


This person will lead the group.  They do not do all of the work, but they make sure everything runs smoothly by being organized.  They can also delegate jobs to other members.



The recorder takes notes and keeps track of everything the group is doing.  They are responsible for keeping track of papers and information for the group.


Time Keeper

The timekeeper makes sure the group stays on task.  They will watch the clock and remind the group when it is time to move on to the next task.



This person is in charge of organizing the presentation if it is needed.  They make sure the product has an acceptable quality.



The speaker is the one who will be in charge if any of the presentation is done orally.  They will be the person that asks for help and helps gather materials.



Step 2:  Set and establish norms/agreements for the group.

The facilitator will lead the group into coming up with 3-5 rules the group will use during the collaborative experience.



Why is this agreement needed?













Step 3:  Identify the task or final product:


The recorder will write down a description of the task or final product.







Step 4:  Group operations


The facilitator will lead a discussion on the following topics.  The recorder will record the results.


Group operations

Results of the discussion

How will the group make decisions?



What are the expectations of the team members?







Who, how and when do we ask for help?



How do we solve problems in the group?



Step 5:  Final product:  Successes and reflection


1.      Is the final product meet the requirements and is the quality acceptable? Explain.

2.     How did we support or show our appreciation to our other group members?

3.     Did everyone contribute equally?  Explain.

4.     If there were any problems in the group, how were they solved?  Explain.

5.     What did you learn about collaboration?

6.     How can we celebrate our successes?

7.     What would you do differently next time?