Top Tools and Activities for Collaborative Learning in 2022

This blog post is sponsored by Lumio, but it also features a bunch of other great tools.
At this point in the school year and the second school year in a pandemic situation, we’re all familiar with the nuts and bolts of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or any other platform your school uses for online live instruction. The challenge is no longer how to use these tools, but rather how to use them in conjunction with other collaborative learning tools so that our students do not suffer from machine distortion (a term that I recently learned from Casey Germadnik). To this end, here some of my tools favorite that can be used for collaborative online or in person to learn, or both.


Social Studies

The task of a classic social studies class is to have students create timelines. There are two tools that recommend students more than any other tool to use to collaboratively create timelines. Those are Timeline JS and Canva. Canva is more aesthetically pleasing than Timeline JS, but Timeline JS offers more flexibility in terms of embedding content. A timeline is created using Timeline JS in a Google Sheets template that students can collaborate on. Canva offers timeline templates that students can share. An overview of how to use Timeline JS can be found here. A demo of creating timelines in Canva can be viewed here.

The creation of maps and / or marking other important classical social studies were done on paper and can be made now in a collaborative digital environment. One way to make this collaborative activity in the use of graphics as Google explained before the beginning of the last school year. Another option is to use Lumio to import a picture of the map and then make students work together to call it. Here’s a good example of the use of Lumio for this purpose. By the way, if you like this example, you can save a copy of it and use it with your students. Here are a few instructions on how to make copies of Lumio activities.


Language Arts
I have told this story dozens of times over the years and will tell it again. I got my first teaching job as a mid-year substitute for the ninth grade in language arts. In the classroom, which inherited, I found a group of comic books with a note saying, “These books may help with the reluctant readers.” They definitely did! Since then, the comics were used as materials to read and used creativity comic writing activity in language arts and in social studies classes.

There are many tools for creating comics individually, but few of them support collaborative creation of comics. Two options for creating collaborative storyboards are Google Slides as shown here, Canva as shown here, and Lumio as found in these templates. And if you want your students to map their stories before they start creating the storyboards, you can have them use one of Lumio’s graphic organizer templates.

Mathematics
When I think of math education tools I think of two things, dysmus and hypothetical manipulation. Desmos, for those unfamiliar with it, is a free online graphic calculator. But it is much more than that. In addition to machine tools calculator, Desmos provides activities for distribution to students and tools for students to share their thinking and work with you and with each other. In addition, the integration of Desmos now in Lumio where you can create activities for students to complete individually or cooperatively. Below is a selection of Desmos’ activities integrated into Lumio.

In the past two years I have answered more questions about creating virtual math manipulations than I have in the first twelve years of writing this blog. In most cases, I’ve suggested using Google’s Jamboard to create virtual manipulators because you can allow students to use them individually or collaboratively depending on the sharing settings you choose. This fall, I started referring some people to Lumio because it provides fifteen virtual manipulative models that are perfect for elementary school math lessons. Like Jamboard, you can use the default means of manipulation Lumio individually or collectively according to the settings you choose.

Science
If you are teaching the separation of science in junior high or high school, you should be familiar emulates produced by PhET Colorado, Boulder University. PhET offers more than 150 simulator to teach concepts in physics, chemistry, biology and earth sciences. You can use many of these simulations Kinsatat stand-alone or used as part of a larger activity in which students work notes and share them. Take a look through these activities PhET to find an activity that meets your needs. It was merged PhET also in Lumio where you can use simulations to create collaborative learning experiences for students. The following is a selection of integrated learning activities with PhET available in Lumio.

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The value of any collaborative learning tool lies in how it is used by you and your students. The value of cooperation is learning from each other as well as from the teacher. When using collaborative learning tools, remember to give students time “to roam” a little bit during the creation of ideas and exchange. During that time, many students will begin to feel connected to their classmates and have little connection to the device.

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