Encouraging youth to learn collaboration skills

When youth connect with each other and work together, they are learning valuable life skills such as decision-making, problem-solving, character building and good communication.

When youth are taught to connect with others, they are learning to become leaders. Whether they learn by working with the younger kids in their local 4-H club or connecting globally, youth can work on their life skills such as decision-making, problem-solving, building character and good communication. Creating collaboration among youth is another way to help youth become successful adults.

Student collaborating can take many forms, according to “3 Great Ways to Encourage Student Collaboration” by Emily Major of Common Sense Education. It can be peer-to-peer, where youth learn from each other by sharing their likes, dislikes, goals, decisions, or working together on projects, etc. Also, connecting globally, youth can learn so much more with the different types of technology available.

Major states that when kids are pushed to explain, listen and provide feedback, they practice higher-level skills such as evaluation and constructive critique.

The following are some examples of connections teachers, volunteers and others can use to help youth collaborate.

  • ePals is a free website for grades 4-7. This site connects with peers in other countries and provides the opportunity to collaborate on projects. Kids will practice safe communication skills and teamwork and learn about other cultures.
  • Wikispaces is a free website for grades 7-12. This gives kids a chance to learn basic fundamentals of web creation. Students can post ideas or give feedback. They can get creative with widgets, images and hyperlinks.
  • Piazza is a free website for grades 10-12. Youth are challenged to not only ask questions, but explain what they know to their peers. This model of peer-to-peer teaching and editing is a great way to build engagement and collaboration in any classroom setting.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development programs offer many ways to help youth build life skills. For more information regarding 4-H or youth development, visit the MSU Extension website or your local MSU Extension office.

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