Cooperative learning is a type of classroom environment in which small teams work together to learn a particular subject or activity. This type of learning stresses positive interdependence, face-to-face interaction, individual and group accountability, interpersonal and small-group skills and group processing. Incorporating these social activities into the classroom may not only improve the social skills of students, but it may help students of lesser ability to learn from those who do not require as much instruction.
A popular method of cooperative learning is to split your classroom into groups and give them questions to work out within the group. This works best when different students are required to respond each time you receive an answer from a group. It also works well if the groups are evenly matched. This activity can work in whichever subject you choose. Make sure to keep the students on task so they do not turn the activity into a conversation session.
When encountering difficult physics, math or chemistry problems, teachers tend to work the problems out on the board so the students can learn by watching. To give them a chance to learn by doing, have the students split into groups, giving each group the opportunity to work on a difficult problem on the board together. This will help to alleviate the fear that can occur when one student is asked to come to the board alone. Make sure the entire group is participating.
Jigsaw Group Project
This activity involves having each member of the group tackle a different part of one big group project. For example, if writing about a particular country, one participant can write about the economy while another writes about the geography. After each student has done his piece, the group comes back together to write a group report. Check in with the group frequently as there are both students who tend to slack off and students who tend to overachieve, throwing off the balance of the groups.
When a group has the opportunity to role play, it gives them to chance to be entertaining in front of their classmates and to learn the material in a different extremely active way. Have your students create a short play based on the subject you are studying. For example, you might have them act out the trial of Socrates using some related sources. The group would be divided into the prosecution and defense and would give their version of how it happened. When each member of the group participates in the creation of the mini-play, it truly makes them feel like they've all contributed to something that they get to share with their classmates.
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