Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cooperative Learning: Ideas


For some teachers, it might be best to begin cooperative learning with partner work and move from there. In general, cooperative learning works best when students are placed into groups of four where they can see one another. Although tables work well, moving desks so that they can face one another is a valid option. The following are some of the most common cooperative learning activities.

  1. Jigsaw - Each student from the group goes to another group to do a reading or an activity. In the process, that person becomes an expert on the subject and then reports back to the main group to explain the information. This process works best when students recieve a graphic organizer that they can share with classmates.
  2. Brainstorm - Cooperative learning works well when every member has a chance to add to the discussion. For this reason, a brainstorm works well. Each student has a chance to participate. A brainstorm also works well when coupled with the Pair-Share concept. In addition, Brainstorm works well when it goes beyond the traditional idea of "how many" and into higher-order thinking. For example, students work well when they are told to brainstorm at least five pros and five cons of the United Nations.
  3. Three-step Interview - In a group of four, each pair interviews the other pair. Afterward, the second person interviews the first. Finally, each member shares information from their interview to the entire group.
  4. Pair-Share - The most common of cooperative learning activities, students begin by working or thinking silently. Afterward, they pair up and share information. It could be a discussion question, a brainstorm or a story. From there, the pair shares with the small group or the larger group.
  5. Technology - Using shared Wikis, Google Documents or Blogs, students can engage in cooperative learning activities with the added aide of technology. Again, it is important to assign roles and offer ideas for organization (for example, a team editor, group leader, visual person, etc. ). This works especially well when students use Problem-Based Learning activities and must see the issues from multiple perspectives.

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