Teaching and Learning Strategies for the Thinking Classroom

By Alan Crawford; Wendy Saul et al. | Go to book overview

THIRD CORE LESSON: COOPERATIVE
LEARNING
Cooperative learning has been used in schools around the world for several decades. The methods of cooperative learning have proved valuable for several reasons.Cooperative learning allows students to learn actively, even in large classes. Learning experts tell us that in order to learn, students must act and communicate. But in classes of 60 or more, the amount of time any one student can talk is very limited. Cooperative learning techniques allow every student in the class to participate for much of the time, but they organize the activity of many students at once so that the activity will be productive and not chaotic.Cooperative learning has academic and social benefits for students. Cooperative learning is not simply an expedient device to get students in large classes to participate in learning. Cooperative learning also has these benefits:
1. Higher order thinking. Students in cooperative learning groups are made to work with ideas and concepts. They are challenged to offer their own interpretations of topics and to solve problems.
2. Motivation and morale. Students who take part in cooperative learning feel more attached to the school and to the class. This may lead to better attendance and better retention rates.
3. Learning interpersonal skills. Students in cooperative learning groups learn to cooperate with others. Cooperation is increasingly recognized as an important life skill, both for productive work on the job, for happy family life, and for participation in a democratic society.
4. Promoting inter-personal and inter-group understanding. Students who work in cooperative groups are more likely to learn to get along with people of different sexes and from different social groups. They are also likely to develop stronger self-concepts.

This lesson follows the three-part format of anticipation, building knowledge, and consolidationthat was presented in the first section of this guidebook. The lesson will use Mix/Freeze/Pair (Kagan 1994), Reading with Text Coding (Vaughn 1986), and the Jigsaw (Slavin 1994).

The text for this lesson is called “Remembering Columbus,” but the procedures in the lesson are meant to be used with any informational text that you have. This lesson is done here with eighth graders, but the procedures can be used with grades below that or up through the secondary level.

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