Literacy and Collaboration

The Maine Department of Education provides these learning experiences at no cost. We encourage the use of learning journals or notebooks, analog or digital, to record responses to prompts and suggested activities. The form and format of your journal may take various forms and could include analog, digital, or any other form that is comfortable to you.

Literacy and Collaboration

Collaboration is an essential competency for learning and for work. Knowing how to engage with others is considered by some to be a type of literacy. Collaboration is a critical element of project-based learning and requires more than simply being in a group. Literacy skills support the development of meaningful collaboration that leads to successful relationships in the classroom, the school, and the wider community. Think about it: it is now possible to collaborate with someone in another state, another country, and on another continent. Developing global connections through collaboration is a natural pathway in the interdisciplinary, project-based learning journey.

This learning module is organized in three parts as an introduction to literacy and collaboration.

  • Collaborative annotation explores various methods of working together in one space.
  • Productive talk provides strategies to support collaborating through discussion with measurable outcomes.
  • Feedback as a continuous process during collaboration and talk.
Collaborative Annotation

Some of us enjoy annotating a text – highlighting important ideas, writing notes in the margin, drawing connections between parts. Digital annotation can be similar and very different. Digital annotation methods let us record our ideas on a text even as others are annotating the same text. Collaborative annotation lets us create documents in a virtual environment. Collaborative annotation requires thoughtful interaction with others, even when the other is not present. Annotation provides a method of reviewing a shared document and is especially helpful when multiple people are responsible for developing the document. Comments must be meaningful; highlights should demonstrate a specific reason for calling out the text such as an excellent example that supports a position.

There are many different types of collaborative annotation. See the Edutopia: Social Annotation in the Digital Age article to further understand collaborative annotation and various tools. This video from EdTech with Adam compares different platforms for collaborative annotations. Watch this vide to learn more about those that you already have to or something you may want to try. Then record in your learning journal:

  • Tools you use and might want to use differently
  • Tools you may want to try
  • Ideas about what to annotate collaboratively
Productive Talk 

Listening is difficult to assess and has historically relied on taking notes or scoring a presentation. New literacies value listening as much speaking, especially when teaching and assessing collaborative conversations.  Collaboration as a competency relies on talk that moves the process or results in action steps. Productive talk in the classroom includes measurable products that reflect the learning goals for the collaboration. Productive talk is sometimes referred to as dialogic. Explore these protocols for productive talk.

Literacy and collaboration naturally develop simultaneously. Project-Based Learning is not done in a solitary environment, but as part of a community and relationship building pedagogy. Developing the literacy skills necessary to support effective PBL is essential to the success of any project.