What amazes me in all of this is how this directly ties in to a bigger picture - that learning collaboratively is not just something to be looked at for my students and the peers that could support them - that if we took the strategy that would make it work for my students and applied them to all students in the classroom it would benefit all of them.
I really enjoyed this video hat speaks to learning in collaboration. There are some direct comments on learning not happening later in the video.
It doesn't have to be this huge. If students partner up with one of my students during math activities that involve manipulatives and have my student move the manipulatives around while they explain the process then my student is able to work on material management, communication, direction following, counting, sorting and the other student is able to work on verbalizing the process that he/she is going through. If a student works on a vocabulary activity with my students - taking complicated words and simplifying them and then finding pictures for my student it seems that student would have to have a pretty good grasp on the vocabulary they are supposed to be learning. If a student works on a writing project with one of my students and has my student contribute to the writing assignment by using their communication system it seems the other student would need to have a pretty good understanding of what they are writing and would gain some skills in questioning techniques and incorporating the ideas in to their writing (perhaps their writing would actually be more challenging).
Its an area that I am just beginning to explore but there seems to be so many opportunities for more robust learning for all by using these types of strategies - and a lot of added social benefits as well as it doesn't leave a student sitting on the side of the room with a learning assistant.