Greta Sandler
a girl and a boy in a classroom sitting at desks looking down at their school laptops

Fostering collaboration in the classroom is vital in preparing our students for life. Working in groups can be challenging, which is why implementing an agility framework can become a powerful tool. Developing an agile mindset will empower students to take ownership of their learning while developing social-emotional and critical thinking skills.
You can use this framework with any group project, whether students create a campaign to raise awareness of an important social issue, engage in digital storytelling, research about the industrial revolution or build a bot.

Let's take a look at the steps to implement an agile framework in the classroom:

1. Grouping students

 There are several techniques for doing this. However, grouping based on abilities is a perfect fit for this framework. It requires students to be fully aware of their skills and personality traits, paving the way for many social-emotional learning opportunities. Can We Talk Edu also shares another interesting way of grouping students based on their personalities.

2. Team agreements

Before the groups engage in the project, it’s essential to start building trusting relationships among team members by establishing team agreements. Each team should create its Definition of Fun (DoF). By DoF, the teams in your classroom are simply agreeing on what their needs are in order to enjoy learning and working together. Examples might be sharing creative ideas or respecting each other. This promotes safer learning environments and helps develop stronger teams. 

Students also need to agree on their Definition of Done (DoD), an agreement on how each team member knows their work will be complete and ready to submit. It might  be when a clean copy of a report has been uploaded or after a sharing the final product.

Before starting their project, they need to decide on their final product, so analyzing the Stories or learning objectives, and Celebration Criteria, or criteria required to meet the learning objective, is also part of this step. The learners are responsible for their learning process and meeting the Celebration Criteria. All this valuable information will be registered in a shared document, called Flap.

3. Sprint (learning progress)

Once the team agreements are ready, the students start planning how to achieve the learning goals. They create a to-do list based on the tasks they need to complete, always keeping the Stories and Celebration Criteria in mind. As they start working on the different tasks, they move the items from the to-do list to the “busy” or “done” spaces in the Flap.

 

4. Sprint review (reflection time)

Teachers should meet with each group several times during the learning process. They reflect on any impediments or challenges they have faced and share what they have been doing well and what they are proud of. They reflect on the positive and negative aspects and devise strategies to continue working together to achieve their goal. There should be several sprint reviews along the process. Each team’s feedback is crucial; it will continue to guide them toward the learning objectives. The learners also record these reflections in the Flap.

5. Retrospective

It’s a good idea to share final products with the class or an authentic audience. After the showcase, teams should reflect on their performance as teams, and each member also should do a personal reflection. Peer feedback is also a good idea. Using a class protocol like TAG can foster empathy and engage students in meaningful discussions.

As students become more comfortable with the process, they will develop content skills and abilities they need for life. It may take some time to see this running smoothly, but once it does, you will see how it positively impacts your classroom.

If you are interested in digging deeper into the topic, there are some inspiring people to connect with, including Willy Widjands, the founder of EduScrum; the shared framework is an adapted version of his. Also, Jessica Cavallaro from The Agile Mind, Hannah Siddiquee from Agile in Education USA and John Miller from Agile Classrooms are thought leaders and are eager to share their knowledge.

Adventures in Authentic Learning

Greta Sandler is an English teacher and critical thinking instructor. She is an ISTE Community Leader and a Google Certified Trainer. She is passionate about providing voice and choice for her students and empowering them to take ownership of their learning.