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Collaboration in the Classroom

Collaboration in the Classroom

Cooperative learning methods generally work well for most students. According to Robert Slavin, an internationally renowned expert in cooperative learning two elements must be present if cooperative learning is to be effective: groups goals and individually accountability. “That is, groups must be workign to achieve some goal or earn rewards or recognition, and the success of the group must depend on the individual learning of every group member. (Slavin, 1990)” Sometimes a concern may be expressed that cooperative learning may hold back high achievers. In fact, sometimes there may be a student that expresses a desire not to participate. Students must feel psychologically safe in their classrooms in order to be able to feel good about participating. This will come from the atmosphere and culture that the teacher creates in the classroom. Cooperative learning done right should help students have positive feelings about themselves and each other. And if the teacher does a really great job at creating a positive culture of collaboration in the classroom students will also enjoy school, and want to well in school.scores, and teams that meet certain criteria may earn certificates or other rewards. In a related method called Teams-Games-Tournaments (TGT), students play games with members of other teams to add points to their team scores. and Composition (CIRC)  Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) (Stevens & Slavin, 1995a) is a comprehensive program for teaching reading and writing in the upper elementary grades. Students work in four-member cooperative learning teams. They engage in a series of activities with one another, including reading to one another, making predictions about how narrative stories will come out, summarizing stories to one another, writing responses to stories, and practicing spelling, decoding, and vocabulary. They also work together to master main ideas and other comprehension skills. During language arts periods, students engage in writing drafts, revising and editing one another’s work, and preparing for publication of team books. Three studies of the CIRC program have found positive effects on students’ reading skills, including improved scores on standardized reading and language tests (Stevens et al., 1987; Stevens & Slavin, 1991, 1995a).

The following table is from www.innovativelearning.com and helps give a brief description of Slavin’s “Practical Guide to Cooperative Learning”:

Student Teams-Achievement Divisions (STAD)A cooperative learning method for mixed-ability groupings involving team recognition and group responsibility for individual learning.

Student Teams-Achievement Divisions (STAD)  In Student Teams-Achievement Divisions (STAD) (Slavin, 1994a), students are assigned to four-member learning teams that are mixed in performance level, gender, and ethnicity. The teacher presents a lesson, and then students work within their teams to make sure that all team members have mastered the lesson. Finally, all students take individual quizzes on the material, at which time they may not help one another.

            Students’ quiz scores are compared to their own past averages, and points are awarded on the basis of the degree to which students meet or exceed their own earlier performance. These points are then summed to form team scores, and teams that meet certain criteria may earn certificates or other rewards. In a related method called Teams-Games-Tournaments (TGT), students play games with members of other teams to add points to their team scores.

STAD and TGT have been used in a wide variety of subjects, from mathematics to language arts to social studies, and have been used from second grade through college. The STAD method is most appropriate for teaching well-defined objectives with single right answers, such as mathematical computations and applications, language usage and mechanics, geography and map skills, and science facts and concepts. However, it can easily be adapted for use with less well-defined objectives by incorporating more open-ended assessments, such as essays or performances.

 Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC)A comprehensive program for teaching reading and writing in the upper elementary grades; students work in four-member cooperative learning teams.  Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC)  Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) (Stevens & Slavin, 1995a) is a comprehensive program for teaching reading and writing in the upper elementary grades. Students work in four-member cooperative learning teams. They engage in a series of activities with one another, including reading to one another, making predictions about how narrative stories will come out, summarizing stories to one another, writing responses to stories, and practicing spelling, decoding, and vocabulary. They also work together to master main ideas and other comprehension skills. During language arts periods, students engage in writing drafts, revising and editing one another’s work, and preparing for publication of team books. Three studies of the CIRC program have found positive effects on students’ reading skills, including improved scores on standardized reading and language tests (Stevens et al., 1987; Stevens & Slavin, 1991, 1995a).
JigsawA cooperative learning model in which students are assigned to six-member teams to work on academic material that has been broken down into sections for each member. Jigsaw  In Jigsaw (Aronson, Blaney, Stephen, Sikes, & Snapp, 1978), students are assigned to six member teams to work on academic material that has been broken down into sections. For example, a biography might be divided into early life, first accomplishments, major setbacks, later life, and impact on history. Each team member reads his or her section. Next members of different teams who have studied the same sections meet in expert groups to discuss their sections. Then the students return to their teams and take turns teaching their teammates about their sections. Since the only way students can learn sections other than their own is to listen carefully to their teammates, they are motivated to support and show interest in one another’s work. In a modification of this approach called Jigsaw II (Slavin, 1994a), students work in four- or five-member teams, as in STAD. Instead of each student being assigned a unique section, all students read a common text, such as a book chapter, a short story, or a biography. However, each student receives a topic on which to become an expert. Students with the same topics meet in expert groups to discuss them, after which they return to their teams to teach what they have learned to their teammates. The students take individual quizzes, which result in team scores, as in STAD.
 Learning TogetherA cooperative learning model in which students in four- or five-member heterogeneous groups work together on assignments  Learning Together  Learning Together, a model of cooperative learning developed by David Johnson and Roger Johnson (1999), involves students working in four- or five-member heterogeneous groups on assignments. The groups hand in a single completed assignment and receive praise and rewards based on the group product. This method emphasizes team-building activities before students begin working together and regular discussions within groups about how well they are working together.
 Group InvestigationA cooperative learning model in which students work in small groups using cooperative inquiry, group discussion, and cooperative planning and projects, and then make presentations to the whole class on their findings.  Group Investigation  Group Investigation (Sharan & Sharan, 1992) is a general classroom organization  plan in which students work in small groups using cooperative inquiry, group discussion, and cooperative planning and projects. In this method, students form their own two- to six-member groups. After choosing subtopics from a unit that the entire class is studying, the groups break their subtopics into individual tasks and carry out the activities that are necessary to prepare group reports. Each group then makes a presentation or display to communicate its findings to the entire class.
Cooperative ScriptingA study method in which students work in pairs and take turns orally summarizing sections of material to be learned. Cooperative Scripting Many students find it helpful to get together with classmates to discuss material they have read or heard in class. A formalization of this age-old practice has been researched by Dansereau (1985) and his colleagues. In it, students work in pairs and take turns summarizing sections of the material for one another. While one student summarizes, the other listens and corrects any errors or omissions. Then the two students switch roles, continuing in this manner until they have covered all the material to be learned. A series of studies of this cooperative scripting method has consistently found that students who study this way learn and retain far more than students who summarize on their own or who simply read the material (Newbern, Dansereau, Patterson, & Wallace, 1994). It is interesting that while both participants in the cooperative pairs gain from the activity, the larger gains are seen in the sections that students teach to their partners rather than in those for which they serve as listeners (Spurlin, Dansereau, Larson, & Brooks, 1984). More recent studies of various forms of peer tutoring find similar results (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1997; King, 1997, 1998).

 

Slavin’s techniques are immediately applicable in the classroom and they are extensively research based and tested. But today’s classroom is likely to have digital devices which also make it easy to collaborate. Google Education and Microsoft in Education offer a plethera of tools and applications for students to work both independently and collaboartively in today’s 21st Century classrooms. Potential is endless when teachers empower their students with the digital tools they need to help them prepare to be Career and College ready.  Other tools such as Edmodo, Schoology, Classflow, and Weebly are just a few sites that modernize the classroom and transform students learning opportunities. These tools help teachers differentiate instruction, provide classroom modifications, and reach beyond the face to face traditional classoom. Creating flexibility and adaptability in the classroon transfer to the life and career expectations of the 21st Century workplace.

 

 

 

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