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Prompting Students to Reflect During Portfolio Presentations

Ajala, 6th grade student at the Odyssey School in Denver, shows evidence of her growth and achievement on the habits of collaboration and leadership, using data to defend her claims about working productively on a team. Cyndi Gueswel who recorded this video, prompts Ajala toward deeper reflection. 


- I’m Ajala, I’m in 6th grade, and my target is collaboration. Collaboration and leadership, and the target is I can attribute a common goal through my words and actions. And the specific target is I can coordinate my actions and efforts with the actions and efforts of my research team to ensure quality data collection. A strategy that I used was sharing ideas to group members, and this helped me with collaboration because we had to share all of the data that we collected with each other to get, so that we all had a common understanding. For example, we had to share. We all studied different abiotic factors, and we had to share the different details about the abiotic factors, the different information, so that everybody knew what it was, and we took notes so that we can make our conclusions about how the seven abiotic factors affect the water quality of the South Platte River. And my second strategy was staying involved through active participation. This helped me with collaboration because it helped my group get work together with an equal amount of participation so that everybody was on the same page and everybody knew what we were doing. We worked on this. We had collaboration critiques, and we would explain to each other how we thought we were doing with our collaboration. If we were doing good, if we were maybe not doing so good with our collaboration. If we were collaborating well and enough, and I think this helped my group get an equal amount of participation done through our final project, and helped us all know what we were doing.

- [Interviewer] So, can you say a little bit more about, I can clearly tell you’re talking about science, can you say a little bit more about what you were doing in your expedition, and why it was important for you to collaborate?

- Well, we were trying to see how the seven abiotic factors were affecting the water quality of the South Platte River, and so it was really important for us to collaborate on this project because we all had different tasks to do, so in order to get the final product we had to explain to each other how we did our tasks, what data we collected from doing these tasks, and I think that collaborating was definitely the main piece that was the main habit that we were working on throughout this, and it was really important to have collaboration with that.

- [Interviewer] Why was it important to collaborate? Could you have done this academic work on science without collaborating?

- No. Maybe if it was an independent project, but if it was an independent project, that would take a very long time, because we all were assigned different abiotic factors to our groups and it was really good to share that information with each other and work with each other to really analyze that information. Put it in our conclusion.

- [Interviewer] OK. How did you get better at collaboration and leadership through this project?

- I think that the collaboration and critiques were definitely helpful. They were helpful to see how everybody was participating, and I think that it better helped us to use better strategies for collaborating, for sharing our information with each other.

- [Interviewer] And can you talk a little bit about how you improved specifically? Like something that you weren’t as good at related to collaboration at the early stages of this project, and then through the collaboration critiques, what you ended up being better at.

- Well, I remember at the beginning, and still a little bit towards the end, I really liked the leadership piece, except sometimes it may not have been completely collaboration with that leadership. It was more like me doing most of the work because I didn’t want anyone else to mess it up. I think that looking through the criteria for this and kind of getting feedback from my group definitely helped to get everybody into the work and get everybody working on it, which also was helpful for staying involved through active participation, and again those collaboration critiques definitely helped with that.

- [Interviewer] So after you got some feedback, did your peers tell you that you were taking too much leadership and actually not collaborating enough and letting them carry the weight?

- Yeah. I remember a lot of the feedback I got was talking over other people and not sharing the air, so I definitely tried to work on that, and I think it definitely improved. It was better, and I know that a lot of the good feedback was contributing to the conversation, so it kind of connected and it helped me to work on that.

- [Interviewer] Great, okay. So, a really important connection that we’re looking for here is what does being good at collaboration and leadership have to do with your academic achievement in science? Does it matter?

- It does matter. I also think that it’s not really just in science. I think that it’s important to collaborate even if you’re not, especially in a group project, because I think that it’s important to share information and to work together to find information so that you can find something to make out of that. So it’s really important, especially with science, a lot of science is experimenting or analyzing things, and that’s good for collaboration. It’s good to work together on those types of things.

- [Interviewer] Why is it good? What does it do for you as a learner?

- I think that it really helps with, it’s a good skill to have. Definitely going on to further projects, I think that it’s good to have this skill. I think it’s helpful because it’s helping you with getting a common understanding with someone, and I think that collaborating is an important thing to do when you’re working on any sort of project, especially with another person.

- [Interviewer] How did you end up doing on this particular project in terms of your academic achievement?

- I did pretty good. We had final conclusions, which was like our, which is pretty much the final thing for the abiotic factors, and I met the criteria for that. And I think that collaborating was a main piece in that.

- [Interviewer] Say more about that. Why do you think collaborating was a main piece, or a main contributor to your meeting all of the criteria?

- Because it had to have an overall conclusion, and in order to get that overall conclusion, we had to have all of the data, and so we had to share that data with one another, and we had to make sure that everybody understood what that data was in order to really get a belief on that.

- [Interviewer] Oh, that makes perfect sense to me. Yeah, so you could not have done this on your own. There’s just no way, because you didn’t have the data. And do you feel like you ended up with a deep understanding thanks to your fellow peers who shared their data and information with you?

- Yeah, I think that, really also, the way that we were collaborating, the making sure that we were all communicating well helped everybody get a good understanding of each abiotic factor. Sharing ideas, which was one of my strategies, it definitely helped everybody have a common understanding, and everybody have a good understanding so that the work was good.

- [Interviewer] Great, yeah. That all makes sense to me, so here’s your last question. You said earlier it doesn’t apply just in science. You talked about collaboration and leadership being important beyond science. So, have you already experienced in other classes ways that collaboration and leadership as a habit has helped you in another class? Do you think you could talk about the transfer of your habit to a different class or content area?

- So just like academic classes?

- [Interviewer] Mm-hmm.

- Yeah, I think that, you know in every class we have peer critique, and that’s good too. It’s good with communication, which is a good part of collaboration, and you’re collaborating to make sure that everybody has good work.

- [Interviewer] Yeah.

- And collaborating really just with group projects in general it doesn’t have to be in science. Science is a lot about experimenting, which is more like teamwork, but I think that with any other topic, if you’re working on a project with multiple people, it’s important to collaborate. And...

- [Interviewer] Great, okay, thank you very much. You did a great job.

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