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Putting these ideas into practice

Teachers who understand these basic elements of Co-operative Learning can create their own methods for interaction. A large number of methods are available in texts and on the internet to support teachers who are keen to use Co-operative Learning. Two simple examples are included below.

Think, Pair and Share

This is a delightfully simple method which can be undertaken quickly.  It involves nothing elaborate like movement or special equipment.  Basically, the teacher asks a question or sets a small task. For example, she might ask the students to recall three points from the previous lesson. Students think for approximately 30 seconds and then share and agree the best answer. Either of the pair will be asked to answer thus ensuring that both take responsibility for answering.  Learning partners will often work together for a space of time and there will be an ongoing social skill such as ‘listening to one another’ or speaking in a quiet voice or disagreeing respectfully and this will be debriefed from time to time.

Think, pair and share  is often used by teachers at the start of a lesson and the great advantage of it is that all students are involved in thinking and answering.  It is much more engaging than the traditional method of simply asking for a show of hands in response to a question.

Jigsaw

This is a slightly more complex and very powerful method of working with material.

The jigsaw involves setting up expert groups who then take turns to teach the other members of the group.  Here is how it works: The teacher gives each member of the group a different portion of material. Group members then team up with other students, from another group, who have the same material. They then digest the material and become ‘expert’ before returning to teach the other members of their group. The teacher also sets a final task requiring either that the whole group, or the individual members, demonstrate their understanding of the material.

 
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