Cooperative Learning Notes – Day 2

Here are my notes from today at a great Cooperative Learning workshop. I always learn so much.

“I shall never think that I have arrived
lest I begin not to think

For things left dormant begin to rot
and o'er time begin to stink.”

Vicki Davis — That is me!

Here are the great notes — taken directly from the Google Doc. In some places I go from notetaking to editorializing – I hope you can tell the change in tone.

MaryFriend Sheperd Day 2

Talked about how I presented the notes from yesterday and how things have changed. We talked about how Chrissy New Zealand left a comment yesterday on Mary Friend's class and how we streamed it live.

Lecture should not be the dominant mode of instruction although it can be used. (Clarification from yesterday.)

She has us think pair share what we did yesterday (I love think pair share — use it all the time.) — here are the highlights:

1- The principal of overchoice and teaching students to make a choice. (Have things where they won't always agree with the teacher.)
2 – Give one copy to the material
3 – Jigsaw (from Suzanne)
4 – Using pictures to teach — Washington — the power of that. (We literally all know our presidents from these drawings from the book yesterday from about a 20 minute lesson.)
**Idea — sketch the graphics onto a sheet — use paint pens and paint them onto the screen. Paint it on there– paint pen the colors.** So,the process of making the large visual the kids will learn the president. (Look at the book from yesterday, Ready Set Remember by Jerry Lucas — every single elementary school library must have it — it will teach presidents and States and Capitals like nothing you've ever seen! Wow!– The Jerry Lucas books are unbelievable.)

Great to tie curriculum together — teachers cooperate — novel from a period and history from a period.

Another strategy called the 3 2 1 — It is our ticket out the door:
3 – Three strategies I would like to try right away.
2 – Two Ideas I have for collaboratively designing a lesson/unti using today's strategies.
1 – One strategy I want to find more about.

Assessment of cooperative Learning

Evaluation and assessment as you teach.
Evaluation — the ongoing process – the informal observation watching students work — formative evaluation and summative assessments.
Problem with assessing groups — (we're spending a whole amount of the time discussing how to do this — the one thing is getting students to contribute equally — the key are wikis and things like Google Docs. That is the beauty of them. They allow a group – project done together but individual assessment of contribution — who added the video – who added the podcast — who edited the text. Who put in a comma and took it out and went through the motions?)

There is a time to not put the strong moderate and low students together — you want to shift groups — if you always put strong, moderate, low –what is the incentive for the low performer?

When you turn in group work — you don't know who did what on the product. In cooperative learning — each student has a part of the project that they are responsible for. You're not sitting at your desk grading papers — you're a part of these projects. Your job is to be interacting with your students and put on foot miles while they are working with them.

Dominant student — if you continue to dominate the others and do the work of the other students — you will get a zero for group participation. If you give 25% of the grade for group participation. You cannot control and dominate — you have to help everyone rise to a standard — rise to a level of performance — we have to learn how to work together. Your part may be an ace — but it will be Johnny's part of the project. All 4 of you will edit, revise, grow, and work the product. All participants must be an equal part. The whole work should be representative of the work of everyone.

6 areas to choose to evaluate cooperative learning:

  1. Teacher assess group
  2. Teacher assess product
  3. Student Assess Self (See See Teacher assess self rubric )
  4. Student Assess Group
  5. Group Assess Group
  6. Teacher Assess Student

You won't use them all and there are a lot of rubrics available on the Internet for these.

Rubric generators:




If kids aren't sharing and have problems with dominance then you see that you need team building activities. Team building helps with dominance. If you have A students are having problems with sharing and working with others — she says to give a 50 or a 0 or a shock b/c they don't participate well in a group. (of course you can decide later to ignore it she says.) You need to work with the students. (I prefer to do it with coaching and warning and helping so the contribution level is up.)

The minute you give constructive feedback – they won't listen to the good things you say — so say good things first. Always — so they will hear it!

Team Assessing Team:

Topic of study:

As a team, decide which answer best suits the way your team worked together and complete the remaining sentences:
1- We finished our task on time and we did a good job! Yes No
2 – We encouraged each other and we cooperated with each other. YES NO
3 – We used quiet voices in our communications. YES NO
4 – We each shared our ideas, then listen and valued each other ideas. YES NO
5 – We did best at
6 – Next time we could improve at

Give this ahead of time to your groups for group self assessment. Tell them what you're working on.

Team Assess Team

Project Topic of Title
Briefly describe your contribution to the cooperative project.
If you were to do this project over, what would you do differently to improve your work?
How could your team work together more effectively next time?
teacher Comments
All team members sign to show their agreement with the above descirption.
Final Grade (what they think they should get — you still give them a grade from the teacher — but look at this.)

Laura Candler – Teaching Resources –

You shouldn't do all 6 strategies at the same time. You can use a rubric or a more text form like this. You can use % (80% on product and 20% on teamwork) — or you can use a rubric. Multiple ways to assess this. You decide how you will assess. Odds are you'll always have Teacher Assess Product — but we traditionally haven't assessed the other five items on the list.

You may choose to assess the individual in the group, the group, the student self assessment. These are your choices.

Think about adding the other five to what you're doing.

What is the best way to inform the students in writing as to what you're doing?
Let them know ahead of time — hand them the rubric up front. Let them know up front. Teamwork.

Before a project starts — let students have input on rubric — brainstorm and list 15 things you'll need to do on this project — then have the teacher note it. Then pick 5 items to assess andthen that is how they assess — that is the evaluation — with ownership you have success — great idea.

Group Evaluation
1 – We all contributed
not well ————————————————very well
2 – we used quiet voices:
never seldom fairly often always

3. We stayed on task
same criterail
4. Something we could do better next time.
This time sharing, next time something else.

Social Skills Checklist

Sharing listening Stays on Task Quiet Voices
4 members

Sharing Listening Stays on Task Quiet Voices
Member 1
Member 2
Member 3
Member 4

Grading Using Percentages ** THIS IS A GREAT EXAMPLE

Summary of the assessment:

Brain drain /10
Sloppy Copy /40
Good Copy /10
Social Skills / 40

Total / 100

The project is here:

We practiced setting up STAD Long Term Cooperative Groups (Student Groups – Achievement Divisions) Based on the students averages. This is great for skills. To help the students — work together.
The purpose is to help students on the lower end improve.

Cooperative Learning
Addresses Academic Learning
Addresses Social Skills
Instructional Strategy

What incentive do your students who are the strong students have to work with the students in this group. (I would reward everyone based on the improvement of everyone in the group.)

You can average all of the grades in the group and if it comes up to an 80 average — give everyone a 5 point bonus. Work in these groups — check on the average — this is a great idea! If everyone in the class makes a __ or above then we will all get a 5 point bonus on the test. If 3 people who have never made a 100 — their groups get an extra 5 points. This gives incentives and motivations to work together. She likes to have at least 3 in a group — not being tutored — it becomes a negative — 3-4 works al ot better. Also can say if anyone gets a 5% increase in their average this week — you get a bonus this week — then the best students want the lowest students. Give them 10-15 minutes a week to work together.

We are looking at the strategys — Vygotsky — people can learn one level of thinking beyond where they are — they can understand several levels above where they are — expose all students to the next level. Everyone exposed to different levels of thinking and more have strategies for solving the problem. There is a math strategy on this — 4 problems a day. Teachers call — talk about how they solved the problems – 15-20 minutes to debrief the students. Very successful on teaching these skills in the research. Numbered heads.

I am going to use STAD Log term groups to encourage blog postings — I will have them in 3-4 person groups and give the groups 10-15 minutes a week. If all members of the group have done all 4 blog postings in a four week period — each of them will get 5 points on their blog posting average. I am also going to do it on another problem area — the assigned book on CD labs and assignments where they comoplete the assignments. I will give the groups 15 minutes — that way all kinds are incented to help the others have everything in. This will help me greatly.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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audrey October 10, 2007 - 11:13 am

I agree with the idea that it’s not always the best solution to put heterogeneous groups together. In part for the weaker student… when the weak student knows that someone else is better at something, he or she will naturally defer. It also stunts leadership among less ready students. It is also problematic for the better student, especially in classes where there is a wide range of levels. I teach students who range from 2nd grade readers to post high school.. the old adage that you learn something better when you teach it is not very relevant for a student who’s own learning time is being used to remediate another child who is 3 years or more below.

I like to find new ways of creating cooperative groups. One way is to pick a top kid for each group and then have them draft pick their teams… the top kid wants the best workers, so the groups tend toward the greatest heterogeneity.

The other one I use for non heterogeneous is to let them self choose. The hard workers generally pick other hard workers and the slackers pick slackers.. It’s amazing how like picks like. I choose five kids in a group with five groups (give or take) Then I have them each pick a day that they will be responsible for (in this case for blogging, but you use playing cards or anything to do the same) Then they have their self chosen group and their monday group (and so on) That way, I can allow top kids to sometimes actually work with each other without losing the benefits of heterogeneity. They move into heterogeneous and homogeneous easily.

profv October 11, 2007 - 12:41 pm

What I remember most in learning to read (the turning point for me) was the time when I was chosen to work as a tutor for younger children (I was in 5th grade tutoring a first grader). After years in remedial reading, this did two things for me. First, I was able to work with someone who was also struggling with learning to read–and I had the ability to do so. Secondly, I had to figure out how I read to help the other student, thus creating mega-cognitive skills.

I find in group work the “lazy” student is much more difficult to address and getting the students with greater ability to listen to those without (and realize that the ones with lesser abilities do have something to contribute) is the problem and an important skill to develop for future work. The fact is that the trend in higher ed and the workplace demands students will the ability to work in groups. The “group” sinks or swims, not the individual in a workplace context. Therefore, students with higher abilities need to learn how to listen to those they do not perceive as having those abilities. These skills are valuable and should be included in the activity learning objectives (and graded).

In middle school, my son was always the take charge person that would do all the work, whether others in the group wanted it or not. He is very extrinsically, grade oriented (not due to pressure from his parents I should say, but because he has a very competitive personality). What did he learn from group projects? That sometimes the “dumb” kids had good ideas, that he was not infallible, that it is important to be able to communicate and even instruct others in what needs to be done, and that in the process of instruction, he had a better understanding of the material.

Where did he learn this? When he was doing group work with his team members at our house. I wish I could say that his teachers worked on these skills. But they didn’t. I think one of the problems with group projects set up as cooperative learning is that teachers don’t develop and reinforce the skills needed because they assume it is a natural skill. Imagine if we assessed geometry skills in students without teaching it because everyone played with blocks as a child! Just like anything else we teach, we need to build on skills, especially communication skills, negotiation skills, problem solving skills, and social skills.

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