Social Skills

2- Social ATL Clusters social

 ATL skills can be learned and taught, improved with practice and developed incrementally.

What are ATL skills?

ATL skills can be powerful tools for exploring significant content. This dual focus (content and process, knowledge and skills) promotes student engagement, deep understanding, transfer of skills and academic success.

In the Social skills category we can clearly see that the skill we must target is collaboration. As human beings, we are social beings and therefore we cannot exist in isolation. While we can be very resourceful and be able to accomplish a lot on our own, different people posses different ideas and, therefore, are able to make things happen in a different way. Thus, solutions and projects can only be greater if we collaborate.

The skills each of us possesses can complement what each of us lack. We need  to be good observers to see the potential in our friends and ourselves, to see how by working together we can achieve something that we would not be able to achieve on our own.

 How do these skills help in my learning?

 In the present, collaboration is a key skill to possess, especially because people do not necessary need to be face to face in order to collaborate. This means that we also need to have adaptability skills, to understand how people learn and work, and to find a way to make our strengths become allies of our friends’ potential.

We cannot deny that collaboration is everywhere: when we discuss a topic in class; when we are trying to negotiate with our friends, when we comment on a video on Youtube, when we write a review on tripadvisor. Everything we do in a space where others also operate becomes a collaborative effort, and a lot of the knowledge and information in the world is a product of collaboration, for example Wikipedia. This is how having strong collaboration skills will help you.

Look at the video below. Hopefully you will develop more insights.

Organizing effective collaboration and cooperation routines

Working in groups is a great opportunity to work on our social skills. When group activities are introduced in class, there is a list of behaviors that are expected from all learners. Working in groups does not solely mean asking and answering questions, but also listening attentively, supporting peers, and making sure everyone in the team has equal opportunities to contribute. Likewise, it is the whole team’s responsibility to make sure quality ideas are being generated, that the most meaningful and impactful ones are being recorded, and that everyone has a role to play.

Teachers may or may not assign specific duties to you when conducting group work. So, when it’s up to you to decide, here is a list of roles you may consider. You should choose the roles depending on the project you will be working on, the number of members in your team, and the time that has been allocated. While there is a possibility for some individuals to play various roles, you have to keep in mind that having multiple duties will diminish the quality of the attention paid to each one.

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With ideas taken from:

Here” you will find a few ideas on the sentences you will have to employ depending on the role you play. Note: not all the roles in the table above are included.

When speaking, you should …..

  • sustain a main idea
  • be original with interesting, thought- provoking ideas.
  • have quality in your comments.
  • include textual references when needed– the more specific the quotation, with reference to page and paragraph numbers, the better.
  • make reference to other works.
  • maintain the accuracy of your comments.
  • question for greater understanding.

When listening, you should …..

  • listen to other students and not be “checked out”.
  • see how the comments fit…follow the flow of the discussion.
  • be able to reference previous comments.
  • listen for greater understanding.
  • wait patiently for the speaker to finish before sharing ideas.

When participating in conversation, you should …..

  • be consistent in participation.
  • show leadership—help others to enter the discussion.
  • show empathy.
  • have the ability to learn and adjust to the dynamics of the group.
  • incorporate politeness and respect for all members of the group.
  • maintain eye contact and call others by their names.
  • show patience with the process. (It takes some time to develop a group dynamic where everyone feels at ease.)
  • demonstrate preparedness— If there was a task assigned prior to working in groups (e.g. reading and making books and articles are marked, preparing questions)
  • be willing to state own ideas even if different from those of other students or the teacher.
** Simplified from:

Below you will find a series of sentence starters that will support you when participating in group discussions. Pay attention to the words in blue- they indicate the intention of the sentence starter.


  • “I agree with ____ because____.”
  • “I like what ______ said because_____.”
  • “I agree with ______because ___; then on the other hand_____.”


  • “I disagree with _____ because ______.”
  • “I’m not sure I agree with that because______ .”
  • “I can see that ________; however, I disagree with (or can’t see) ________.”


  • “Could you please repeat that for me?”
  • Paraphrase what you heard and ask, “Could you explain a bit more, please?”
  • “I’m not sure I understood you when you said________. Could you say more about that?”
  • “Is there evidence for the position?”
  • “How does that support our work/mission at ___?”


  • “I hear_____.”
  • “I believe____.”
  • “I discovered _____.”
  • “I learned that ____.”


  • “I don’t’ understand______.”
  • “I am confused about_______.”
  • “Can you explain that another way?”
  • “I have a question about ___________.”


  • “I was thinking about what _____ said, and I was wondering what if_____.”
  • “This makes me think______.”
  • “I want to know more about _________.”
  • “Now I am wondering______.”
  • “Can you tell me more about ____________.”


  • “I want to go back to what _______ said.”
  • “I like ___________.”
  • “I noticed that __________.”
**** Question starters translated and adapted from: Guía para el aprendizaje colaborativo. ITESM 2010

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