Cooperative Learning Structures
When facilitating Cooperative Learning Groups the teacher must remember:
Create and share specific guidelines/rules for the cooperative learning activity. Post these somewhere in the classroom and go through them with the class before the activity. Review as needed.
The teacher takes on the role of facilitator during cooperative learning activities. This means the teacher is constantly walking around the room listening to the group conversations, offering specific concepts, and intervening as necessary to be sure the correct concepts are part of the activity.
Place students in home-base groups. Give each person in the home-base group a role, topic, letter, or number. Have students with the same roles, topics, letters, or numbers create expert groups. For example, have the home-base groups assign each member one letter: A, B, C, or D or a chapter, section, etc. Have all students assigned a letter A form an expert group and have all students assigned a letter B form an expert group and so forth. Have expert group members work together to become experts on their topics. When the expert groups have completed their work, have experts return to their home-base groups and take turns teaching the material for which they were responsible.
Have each student in turn write one statement or question related to the topic as the group passes a pencil and paper around. Share statements one at a time.
Think, Pair, Share
Partner students. Students first think about something (this could be vocabulary, chapter sections, current events, etc.) and then discuss their thoughts with their partners. This allows for the students to first reflect and formulate personal thoughts before verbalizing them to someone else. It ensures that each person is responsible for thinking about the topic, so the discussion does not focus on only one person's ideas or thoughts. A time limit can be set for discussions so both students have a chance to share.
This cooperative structure focuses on equal participation among group members. The students take turns speaking so one person does not dominate the discussion. Each person in a group receives a predetermined number of "chips" (coins, game pieces, cards, etc.). As a discussion unfolds, each person who speaks places a chip in the center of the group. Once a person's chips are gone, that person may not talk again until all members of the group have used all of their chips.
Stay and Stray
Students learn concepts from peer experts. In this structure, one person from a group stays at the group's home base to teach visitors the information developed by the home team. The rest of the team strays to the home bases of other groups to learn new information, switching roles periodically so everyone gets a chance to stray. After visiting other home bases, group members return to their home bases and share what they've learned.
Team members divide up into partners. First step: Partner 1 interviews partner 2 on a particular topic by asking questions. Second step: Partner 2 interviews partner 1 by asking questions about the same topic. Third step: Partners share responses with all team members.
Round Robin Brainstorming
Divide the class into small groups (4-6) with one person appointed as the recorder. A question is posed with many answers and students are given time to think about answers. After the "think time", members of the team share responses with one another round robin style. The recorder writes down the answers of the group members. The person next to the recorder starts and each person in the group in order gives an answer until time is called.
Three Minute Review
Teachers stop at any time during a lecture or discussion and give teams 3 minutes to review what has been said, ask questions, or answer questions.
Numbered Heads Together
Divide the class into teams of 4. Give each member of the team a number: 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. The teacher calls out a number (2) and each number 2 person in every group gives an answer.
Circle of Friends or Wagon Wheel
Arrange students into 2 circles-an "inner" circle and an "outer" circle-one inside the other, with the participants in the inner circle facing the people in the outer circle. Have each person in the inner circle discuss a concept, tell a story, etc. Have the person in the outer circle who is facing the speaking participant listen carefully and offer suggestions or answers. After approximately 5 minutes, have the inner circle rotate three places to the right. Repeat 1 or 2 more times. Then, as a large group, share what was learned.