Middle Years February 2018

Happy to collaborate

You may have heard your middle schooler talk about group assignments—perhaps a paper she’s writing with a partner or a slide presentation she’s creating with classmates. Learning to collaborate will help her succeed in these projects and teach her an important skill for the future. Share these strategies.

Look for themes
Collaborating is about using everyone’s thoughts and opinions to find a solution. First, group members need to brainstorm and keep track of suggestions. Then, they can look for ways to combine their ideas. For example, they might realize most of their concepts fit into three main categories and work together to divide their paper into three parts.

Learn to compromise
Help your tween use language that encourages others to participate and shows she is considering their recommendations. For instance, she could ask, “What’s your reaction to this?” Or she can paraphrase someone’s comments with “It sounds like you’re saying…” To disagree politely, she might reply, “I see what you’re saying. I also see it another way.”

Figure out roles
Another key to collaboration is using everyone’s strengths. Say your middle grader’s group is making a slide show. One person might use her organizational skills to schedule meetings and decide how to arrange the slides. Another can use technology know-how to create the slides and add special effects.

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