Collaborative Classroom | Trafalgar Castle School

Collaborative Classroom

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Girls don’t come in one-size-fits-all. Learning shouldn’t either.

At the Castle, students in Grade 4 through 6 learn through our Collaborative Classroom model, where teachers work together to deliver high quality and meaningful curriculum that challenges every student to achieve their full potential. The Collaborative Classroom model allows students to work in both larger and smaller group settings, supported by expert instruction that is geared to meet each student’s unique needs. Expert feedback and an individualized focus allow each girl to be supported and challenged, helping her to achieve her personal best while igniting her love of learning. Students collaborate and learn in a variety of ways, including multi-grade groupings, as a whole class and in smaller teams. This unique restructuring of the traditional classroom model is based on evidence that shows how inquiry-based collaborative approaches to teaching help students more effectively learn important 21st-century skills such as teamwork, problem-solving and innovative thinking.

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

Planning can be done in many ways, but the most powerful is when teachers work together to develop plans, develop common understandings of what is worth teaching, collaborate on understanding their beliefs of challenge and progress, and work together to evaluate the impact of their planning on student outcomes.”

– John A.C. Hattie, Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning


Where 3 + 3 = Success For All Learners

Combine three skilled teachers with three excited classes and you’ve got the chance to create collaborative learning experiences that meet the needs of all learners.  Throw in the support of two dedicated Directors and a skilled Program & Instructional Coach, and suddenly each girl can thrive.  An integrated program focusing on real-world problems combined with research-based best practice in teaching ignites each girl’s love of learning.

How do we collaborate?

  • Whole class
  • Small group
  • Individual work
  • Multi-grade
  • Single grade
  • Cross curricular

Why do we collaborate?

Evidence shows that inquiry-based, collaborative approaches benefit students in learning important twenty-first-century skills, such as the ability to work in teams, solve complex problems, and apply knowledge from one lesson to others. The research suggests that inquiry-based lessons and meaningful group work can be challenging to implement. They require changes in curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices -- changes that are often new for teachers and students.

Inquiry-based instruction can help teachers deepen their repertoire for connecting with their peers and students in new and meaningful ways. That's powerful teaching and learning -- for students and teachers alike.

(Excerpt from "Teaching for Meaningful Learning: A Review of Research on Inquiry-Based and Cooperative Learning" by Linda Darling Hammond and Bridget Barron)

The Takeaway: Research Findings

A growing body of research has shown the following:

  • Students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems, and when they take part in projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration.
  • Active-learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.
  • Students are most successful when they are taught how to learn as well as what to learn.

(Adapted from Powerful Learning: What We Know About Teaching for Understanding by Linda Darling-Hammond et al.)

The Collaborative Classroom Team

Mr. Heyes Lower School Homeroom
Ms. Heyes Lower School Homeroom
Ms. Senior Lower School Homeroom
Ms. Tracey Lower School Homeroom
Ms. Garcia Director of Wellness & Student Support
Ms. Kuchirka Head of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum

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