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Cooperative Groups in Action
What do cooperative lesson plans look like?



What do cooperative lesson plans look like?

There are things common to successful cooperative lessons at any age level. Let's look at what they are.

If you are guided by specific standards for your area or state, you will want to identify one standard you plan to address in each lesson through group learning.

Once you identify an external goal or guiding statement, you are ready to create lessons. We will use examples from a series of lessons for a unit on the Inuit people for grades 6 - 8.

image We'll start with a five-phase process to guide lesson-plan creation. It will help ensure that students collaborate and remain actively involved.

The five phases for the teacher are:

1.. Ask a question.
2.. Identify specific lesson goals.
3.. Create a rubric (possibly with students) to guide learning.
4.. Assign an assessment task.
5.. Reflect to adjust.

The question is devised by examining the standard or curricular objective you wish to reach or convey. A good question will engage students and encourage discussion and idea sharing. The lesson goals are often expressed as tasks that the learner will do or learn to do. The rubric guides the student in a structured way through the lesson and the task. The assessment task is simply the project, product, or test you will use to measure students' progress. Finally, reflection allows both students and teachers to learn about improving lessons and work by considering problems encountered and resolved. (A more complete description of this process can be found in the "Exploration" section.)

A few additional essentials will help ensure that your groups find success in their work together:

  • Set specific time frames for each phase of the unit and projects to be completed and discuss how these project pieces can be displayed and discussed in student-led conferences.

  • Consider how the small groups represent the full spectrum of students' interests and abilities on this topic. Discuss who brings what unique abilities to the table and guide students in choosing roles that use their strengths and develop their weaker areas.

  • Prepare sample collaborative activities.

  • Consider how extracurricular activities might be used to help develop your project. Activities that could involve your students outside class include debates, school newspaper, math or photography clubs, sports teams, band, student government, or special interest clubs, drama, and cheerleading groups.

  • Suggest a list of criteria for effective assessment of projects. Student groups can generate their own list of criteria for assessment of their group project. List assessment criteria that:

    • demonstrate the uniqueness of each child;
    • provide interesting and challenging experiences;
    • cover the mandated curriculum;
    • emphasize what students can do;
    • provide culture-fair testing;
    • provide intelligence-fair testing;
    • emphasize process as well as product;
    • describe the student's progress to parents;
    • and engage students in a continual process of reflection, mediated learning, and revision.

  • Discuss methods of making assessment a part of both students' and teachers' learning.

  • Consider how students might contribute as part of a negotiated assessment team.

Grade Level: 6 - 8 Grades: 5 - 8
Lessons for Small-Group Work for a Unit on Inuit Peoples by Ellen Weber Water in Your Community: Drought!
A Cooperative-Learning Project Using Technology by Pamela Livingston





Workshop: Cooperative and Collaborative Learning
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