Working Cooperatively?

 kids hugging I learned a lot about Kagan's coopertive learning while in college, and have based my students' learning on the idea that two (or more!) is much better than one. My students always sit in groups of 3 to 4 (groups bigger than 4 really don't work too well-it just makes for large groups, which don't always function as they should), therefore they have quick access to partner/group conversations. I am always asking them to discuss certain points, and it would otherwise be too time consuming to move into partners. I have found that this helps my students to develop conversational skills, social skills, as well as develop and expand concepts that might otherwise be difficult. I try to mix my groups so that one might be low, one in the middle, and one or two are high (ability wise). I also make sure that I have a group leader (this is a high student, and it might be a student who loves attention, control, and/or be in charge). I also have material managers, and group cleaners. This, of course, is for the general running of the group. Group activities require students to have additional, required tasks. I have found that most students love learning in this type of environment (please note I say  must; students with social issues, or other issues, might not prefer this setting. In those instances I have allowed those students some times to work alone if the student will work better). This is not only beneficial for my students, but is a huge help for me as well. Students know they must go to their group leader to ask questions (and if the group leader doesn't know, ask someone else in the group) before ever coming to me. How wonderful this has been! Most of the time (as we teachers well know) someone else knows the answer, and I absolutely cannot have a whole class of first graders constantly asking me questions when they can get to the answer without me. This helps them to become a bit more independent, and encourages positive interdependence among the groups. Honestly, I don't think I would enjoy teaching as much as I do if I didn't set up my classroom this way. It truly helps the students and me as well. This makes me wonder how the rest of you set up your classes. Are they paired? Grouped? Sit in singles? I would love to hear. happy teacher Not familiar with Kagan? Click the link to learn more.


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