The Social Domain And The 21st Century Classroom

I just finished reading another chapter in Stuart Shanker‘s Calm, Alert, and Learning in preparation for tomorrow’s Book Club Meeting. While there were many interesting points in the chapter on “The Social Domain,” the part that really resonated with me is the link between this domain and 21st century learning. When we discuss skills for the 21st century, there is definitely a strong push for “collaboration,” and Shanker addresses this in Chapter 4.

Even for Learning Skills on our Report Card, we assess “collaboration,” but what does this really look like in the classroom?

  • How does our classroom design encourage or negate collaboration?
  • How do we support students that struggle with collaboration?
  • Can all students benefit from collaboration?
  • If students collaborate regularly in the classroom, will they be more socially self-regulated (regardless of what other needs they may have)? Why or why not?
  • How do social interactions and collaboration vary in different grades? How do we ensure that these areas are focused on in all grades?

With our focus on inquiry this year, students seem to be collaborating more. As they collaborate more, they become more aware of their peers and their needs: they’ve learned how to listen better to each other, respond more appropriately to each other, and support each other more (both in and outside of the classroom). Is it possible that the inquiry approach — and the impact that this teaching/learning style has on the classroom — makes students more socially self-regulated? Is this true for all students? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts as I continue to consider this possibility!


4 thoughts on “The Social Domain And The 21st Century Classroom

  1. Lots to think about. I think if we start this yearly enough (I teach kindergarten) students will learn to take the “other’s perspective.” Something that can be quite challenging, but necessary in collaborating.

    • Thanks for the comment, Faige! This is a great point. I wonder if we also need learners of all ages to discuss the process of collaboration: making them aware of not just what they’re doing but why they’re doing it. Would this make it easier for more students to see different perspectives? I’m not sure, but thinking that it might …


  2. Great post Aviva, lots of good questions to think about. When thinking about collaboration one of the things I noticed this year was the challenge for some of my students to self-regulate during collaboration with peers which was an ongoing learning process for both the students and myself. I think that classroom design has a HUGE impact on collaboration and that inquiry based learning will/may lead to students being more self regulated. I’m a little undecided on the social self-regulation because of the social comfort levels of each individual in differing social environments. I will be pondering this one for a while.

    • Thanks Sharron! I think that classroom design and inquiry play important roles for sure. Have you read Stuart Shanker’s book? It’s a fantastic read and makes one think a lot about the many parts of self-regulation!


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