What is Cooperative Learning?
Cooperative learning is an instructional strategy that simultaneously addresses academic and social skill learning by students. It is a well-researched instructional strategy and has been reported to be highly successful in the classroom. For a more in depth explanation of this strategy, follow this link to the self-guided tutorial.
What is its purpose?
There is an ever increasing need for interdependence in all levels of our society. Providing students with the tools to effectively work in a collaborative environment should be a priority. Cooperative Learning is one way of providing students with a well defined framework from which to learn from each other. Students work towards fulfilling academic and social skill goals that are clearly stated. It is a team approach where the success of the group depends upon everyone pulling his or her weight.
How can I do it?
Five Basic Elements of Cooperative Learning
1. Positive Interdependence
2. Face-To-Face Interaction
3. Individual Accountability
4. Social Skills
5. Group Processing
The basic elements of cooperative learning can be considered essential to all interactive methods. Student groups are small, usually consisting of two to six members. Grouping is heterogeneous with respect to student characteristics. Group members share the various roles and are interdependent in achieving the group learning goal. While the academic task is of primary importance, students also learn the importance of maintaining group health and harmony, and respecting individual views.
(Taken from http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/DE/PD/instr/strats/coop/index.html )
Additional ideas for incorporating cooperative in your classroom instruction include:
- Three-minute review : Teachers stop any time during a lecture or discussion and give teams three minutes to review what has been said, ask clarifying questions or answer questions.
- Numbered Heads Together : A team of four is established. Each member is given numbers of 1, 2, 3, 4. Questions are asked of the group. Groups work together to answer the question so that all can verbally answer the question. Teacher calls out a number (two) and each two is asked to give the answer.
- Team Pair Solo : Students do problems first as a team, then with a partner, and finally on their own. It is designed to motivate students to tackle and succeed at problems which initially are beyond their ability. It is based on a simple notion of mediated learning. Students can do more things with help (mediation) than they can do alone. By allowing them to work on problems they could not do alone, first as a team and then with a partner, they progress to a point they can do alone that which at first they could do only with help.
- Value Line or Vote With Your Feet : Students place themselves on a pretend line---1 meaning that they agree strongly or understand something completely and 10 meaning they don't agree or understand.
- Think-Pair-Share: This method allows for individual reflection prior to responding.Teachers pose a question requiring abstract thought. Students think and jot down a response. Pairs are formed and they talk about their responses with a partner. As a class, they then share responses.
- Think- Pair - Square: Similar to the Think- Pair- Share structure, Think- Pair - Square asks students, once they have completed their assigned pair task, to join with another pair to compare their conclusions. The instructions to the newly formed "squares" may be to reach a consensus within their groups or to explain their conclusions to the other pair who has joined them.
- Mix-Freeze-Pair: Similar to Think-Pair-Share, but students are up and moving about the class. Ask students to MIX and then FREEZE. Ask a question, and have students PAIR with a partner to discuss it. Then call on a few kids to share their ideas with the class.
- Partners (Kagan) - The class is divided into teams of four. Partners move to one side of the room. Half of each team is given an assignment to master to be able to teach the other half. Partners work to learn and can consult with other partners working on the same material. Teams go back together with each set of partners teaching the other set. Partners quiz and tutor teammates. Team reviews how well they learned and taught and how they might improve the process.