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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Student Use of the Norms of Collaboration

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


March 02, 2015

While the norms of collaboration are well known for their positive effects in adult groups such as PLCs, have you applied them to student groups yet? They are equally valuable when put in to classroom settings. Thanks to Jo Lockwood for recording this interchange in Katie Decker’s 10th grade English class at Central High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming:


Students were getting ready to participate in a Socratic Seminar from their reading of Antigone (Sophocles) and were using the Norms of Collaboration to guide them through the seminar.

Here were the teacher’s directions:

Take a look at the Norms of Collaboration and answer these questions:

What is on the thing you will pay attention to in yourself?

What is one thing the group can focus on?

Be prepared to share out.

Some student responses:

“I’m saying that we should listen to others and pause.”

“I am thinking I should pause and listen and not interrupt. And then, for the group, I chose providing data that backs up our opinions. I mean maybe some of us will have more evidence to support what we are thinking. I think that is something that we need to focus on, to make sure you have evidence to back it up.”

“I said my personal goal was paraphrasing so that someone knows that I am listening. I think for the group we should put ideas on the table to keep the conversation going.”

“I am going to work on pausing and allowing others to speak because I sometimes don’t let others get into the conversation. Then for the group we should have positive intentions because when we put ideas down maybe someone might feel like they are wrong.”

These thoughts were heard on the notion of leadership during the seminar:

“Maybe you were not fit to be a ruler if you are ruling with fear. Aren’t you supposed to rule from connection?

Aren’t you weak in the end if you rule with fear?”

Frances Gipson, principal at El Sereno Middle School in Los Angeles, CA, has shared the Panther Norms of Collaboration that are used with every student and classroom. She has tied them explicitly to Common Core and International Baccalaureate.

Pausing – Do I think about leaving space in between sharing? Do I think about my ideas before I contribute? Do I listen to others?

Paraphrasing- Have I listened and responded with “short language” that sounds like what my fellow jaguars said and felt? Do I try to organize the thinking of my group and respond with “short language” that reflects our group talk?

Posing Questions- Am I an IB inquirer? Do I help my fellow jaguars think about their ideas and invite more thinking?

Putting Ideas on the Table- Do I share my ideas so that we can all think together? Do I relate ideas to one another with language like, “a related thought is” or “another consideration might be…?”

Providing Data- Do I respond with evidence? Do in interpret and analyze what is said? Do I use expertise from text?

6. Paying Attention to Self and Others- Do I think about what I am saying and what others are doing? Do I pay attention to how my team engages in dialogue and discussion?

7. Presuming Positive Intentions – Do I follow the jaguar principle of being positive? Do use a positive voice?

Thanks to these two schools for sharing this wonderful student application. If you have applications you would like to see shared, please send them to Carolee Hayes at

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