Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cooperative Learning

This week I decided to focus my post towards a subject that is loved by many and avoided by others.  That is the subject of "Cooperative Learning."  This week I read an article, written by a student, that basically described how much she disliked cooperative learning  and how she felt that it put her grade at a disadvantage.  Her mother is a well known, awesome blogger and I happened on her story through the blog.  If you have not read it yet, you may want to check it out at Minds in Bloom
After reading the post, as well as the many comments that followed, I found myself reviewing my methods for implementing  cooperative learning within my classroom.  
One of my blogging heros, Laura Candler commented on the post and stated that " cooperative learning can be disastrous or wonderful depending on how it's implemented." 
Could it be that some teachers are using the "throw and go" method where they throw the project out there and then go sit down at their desk?   I feel that this lack of methodology can be a cop out from a teachers perspective at the expense of the learner.

 Read about it:

Roger T. and David W. Johnson (brothers, working together, cooperatively,  at the University of Minnesota) stated in their article, Cooperative Learning, Two heads learn better than one, that
There is a difference between "having students work in a group" and structuring students to work cooperatively. A group of students sitting at the same table doing their own work, but free to talk with each other as they work, is not structured to be a cooperative group as there is no positive interdependence.
They go on to say that.........
There needs to be an accepted common goal on which the group will be rewarded for their efforts. In the same way, a group of students who have been assigned to do a report where only one student cares, does all the work and the others go along for a free ride, is not a cooperative group. A cooperative group has a sense of individual accountability that means that all students need to know the material or spell well for the group to be successful. Putting students into groups does not necessarily gain positive interdependence and/or individual accountability; it has to be structured and managed by the teacher or professor.
 Hello, I am a Facilitator!!!!!!!
I looked up the synonyms for facilitate and this is what I found:

aid, ease, expedite, forward, further, grease the wheels, hand-carry, help, make easy, open doors, promote, run interference for, simplify, smooth, speed, speed up, walk through

Every single one of these words describe the necessary function of the teacher during a Cooperative Learning project or activity...........don't you agree?
Ok, one more thing.  I found a short video clip that shows a great idea for allowing everyone to share verbal input during a discussion.  It is called Thumbs Up! Signals to encourage active listening!

Have a terrific weekend everyone!  Blog-On!

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