As Wong and Wong state, Cooperative learning is not so much learning to cooperate as it is cooperating to learn (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p. 140). This statement resonates with me so much due to an experience I had with my students today. I implemented a new strategy to help my students become stronger readers. During this strategy we high-light all the dialog and divide up groups that read their part as it arises. All but one of my groups was willing to work together. One group would not read in unison no matter what. There was too much competition to be heard rather than focusing on developing their skills like the other groups were. The groups that cooperated with each other were reading with expression better than ever before.
Cooperating with others is definitely a skill that needs to be taught. Many of us have experience taking personality tests, which turns out what type of learner or team player you are. Well our students are in the same boat. We need to get to know our students in order to strategically place them in cooperative groups. We also need to prepare them to appropriately interact with one another. One way I would to this is have my students develop a classroom web that defines what collaborating means to them. I would then give them sentence starters and have them practice how to agree and disagree in a proper manner.
Cooperative grouping allows social learning to take place. We know as educators that once we teach something our understanding of the concept is that much stronger. Well this is also true for our students. Cooperative groups are common in my classroom, but this week I have been introduced to so many new ways to incorporate technology. Social sites like Facebook are not an option for younger children, but we are able to use sites like Gaggle that allow us to regulate who our students interact with. Due to the lack of computer access, I find it hard to utilize social sites as often as I would like to. Although, the Voicethread.com is amazing! My students absolutely loved participating in this week’s project. Voice Thread was so user friendly, quick, and effective for my students to use. Once my students saw how this site worked they started sharing ideas left and right about other ways we can use it. We are going to start by choosing a student’s writing, uploading it, and allowing students to make comments about what they like or would like to see improved.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works. Denver, Co.: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.