Teachers can create a class community such as everyone knowing two things about everyone else in the class without having a learning community where students continually work together to better each other. Likewise, teachers can have students work together (Student A does this/ student B does that….) without really collaborating (interacting and changing the individual or group’s ideas) .
I would propose using formative assessment to build a class learning community. When students continually help each other by peer-reviewing and offering new ideas to others, they have a learning community. For example, in pairs, the students have peer-reviewed each other’s brainstormed evidence for an English essay and the teacher has given the original authors time to make appropriate changes. Then they continue being formative by creating groups of three to four. In turn, each author reads his/her thesis and his/her brainstormed evidence; the group has the responsibility of adding three to four new pieces of evidence to the original list. After they help the first person, they rotate through the group. Each group has a single purpose: to help each author to have three to four new pieces of evidence. Those groups are truly learning communities
What learning communities do you have in your class?
My new book, Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.
My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.