Collaborative Learning Ideas for Effective Classroom Practice
Building a Classroom CommunityResearch has shown that students learn best in a classroom where they feel free to express their ideas, they feel needed, and they feel comfortable with their peers. Here are some tips on how to create this kind of a learning atmosphere:
--Learn students' names and help them to learn each others' names.--Use an icebreaker on the first day in order to help students get to know each other.--Welcome questions and continually thank students for asking them. If students seem hesitant to ask questions, try using the "Think-Pair-Share" activity (see Collaborative Activities) or leave a little more wait time after asking if there are any questions.--Use group activities to help students feel more comfortable with each other.--Arrive early to class in order to chat with students and stay a couple of minutes after class to answer any individual questions they might have.--Welcome diversity and model tolerance in the classroom. --Create lessons that allow students to be active learners with their own contributions, not just empty receptacles that need to be filled.--Ask for feedback on your teaching and do it often with various methods.
Collaborative Learning:Definition & TraitsCollaborative learning is the act of giving the responsibility of the learning to the students.Collaborative Learning -- the instructional use of small groups wherein students work together to maximize their own and each others learningCommon Elements:shared learning goals -- desired future state in which the students demonstrate as a group and individually a mastery of the subject studiedgoal structure -- specifies the ways in which students will interact with each other and the teacher during the instructional session
Not all group learning is collaborative learning.Groups arguing over divisive conflicts and power strugglesA member sits quietly, too shy to participateOne member does the work, while the other members talk about sportsNo one does the work because the one who normally works the hardest doesnt want to be a suckerA more talented member may come up with all the answers, dictate to the group, or work separately, ignoring other group members
Effective Cooperationdoes not occur by chance.can not be based on the assumption that all students possess good social and learning skills. occurs when the essential components required for each cooperative activity are ensured.
Learning Together:Essential Components
Positive InterdependenceStudents have two responsibilities:learn the assigned materialensure that all members of the group learn the materialEach student should see his or her contribution as essential for group success.each student makes unique contributionInterdependence occurs when students cannot succeed unless all their group members also succeed.Structuring interdependence: common goal, joint rewards, divided resources, complimentary roles
Individual AccountabilityTeacher must assess (directly or indirectly) how much effort each member is contributing to the groups work.Teacher must provide feedback to groups and individual students.Teacher must help groups avoid redundant efforts by members.Teacher must ensure that every member is responsible for the final outcome.
Group ProcessingAt the end of the process, students reflect to determine which member actions were helpful and which were harmful.Students then make decisions about which actions to continue, change, or delete.Such processing allows groups to:focus on maintaining good working relationships.learn and improve cooperative skills.provide feedback on member participation.think at a metacognitive level as well as cognitive level.celebrate success of the group.
Social SkillsStudents must get to know and trust one another.Students must communicate accurately and unambiguously.Students must accept and support each other.Students must resolve conflicts constructively.
Face-to-Face InteractionSuccessful interaction occurs as a result of positive interdependence.To maximize opportunity for success:keep groups small (2 - 6 students)keep groups flexible (heterogeneous within, homogeneous without)assist students with guidelines for interaction:acceptance, support, trust, respectexchange of informationmotivation
Whats the difference?Collaborative Group Traditional GroupPositive interdependence No interdependenceIndividual accountability No individual accountabilityHeterogeneous membership Homogeneous membershipShared leadership One leaderResponsible to each other Responsibly only for selfTask & maintenance emphasized Only task emphasizedSocial skills directly taught Skills assumed or ignoredTeacher observes & intervenes Teacher ignores groupsGroup processing occurs No group processingMutual assistance Competitive
Cooperative Learning ActivitiesTHINK-PAIR-SHARE: (1) The instructor poses a question, preferable one demanding analysis, evaluation, or synthesis, and gives students about a minute to think through an appropriate response. This "think-time" can be spent writing, also. (2) Students then turn to a partner and share their responses. (3) During the third step, student responses can be shared within a four-person learning team, within a larger group, or with an entire class during a follow-up discussion. The caliber of discussion is enhanced by this technique, and all students have an opportunity to learn by reflection and by verbalization. THREE-STEP INTERVIEW: Common as an ice-breaker or a team-building exercise, this structure can also be used also to share information such as hypotheses or reactions to a film or article. (1) Students form dyads; one student interviews the other. (2) Students switch roles. (3) The dyad links with a second dyad. This four-member learning team then discusses the information or insights gleaned from the initial paired interviews. SIMPLE JIGSAW: The teacher divides an assignment or topic into four parts with all students from each LEARNING TEAM volunteering to become "experts" on one of the parts. EXPERT TEAMS then work together to master their fourth of the material and also to discover the best way to help others learn it. All experts then reassemble in their home LEARNING TEAMS where they teach the other group members. NUMBERED HEADS TOGETHER: Members of learning teams, usually composed of four individuals, count off: 1, 2, 3, or 4. The instructor poses a question, usually factual in nature, but requiring some higher order thinking skills. Students discuss the question, making certain that every group member knows the agreed upon answer. The instructor calls a specific number and the team members originally designated that number during the count off respond as group spokespersons. Because no one knows which number the teacher will call, all team members have a vested interest in understanding the appropriate response.
Why Use Collaborative LearningWorks well with inquiry and constructivist approaches.Supports multiculturalism efforts.Promotes social development.Assists with classroom discipline.Provides for more than one teacher.
Resourceswww.teachervision.fen.com www.kaganonline.comwww.clcrc.comhttp://teaching.berkeley.edu/bgd/collaborative.htmlIs Ability Grouping the Way to Go---Or Should It Go Away? (A July, 1997, Education World story on this issue.) Logic, emotion, and research often clash in the longstanding debate over the advantages and disadvantages of ability grouping (tracking). Should it be left up to the courts to decide whether such grouping is fair or not? The Tracking and Ability Grouping Debate Delineates the essential points of the debate, with sections such as What Is Tracking?, The History of Tracking, The Research, Principles for Future Policy, and Impact of Grouping on Achievement.