Collaboration. Conversation. Building off of others. These are all things that are essential for a classroom to be as productive as possible. All of these actions involve working along with somebody else. That is the most effective way to learn.
All of these things are elements of cooperative learning. However, cooperative learning involves a lot more that just those three elements. It requires meaningful input from each individual in a classroom, no one should just be sitting around. It involves growth of ideas and concepts through conversation. Most of all cooperative learning involves working together so each person can get there, to the final goal.
Cooperative learning. Cooperative, “involving mutual assistance in working toward a common goal.” The key in this definition is mutual which means that there is reciprocation in the work, one person is not doing everything by themselves. Each person in a team needs to contribute equally in some way shape or form to truly cooperative with each other. Learning, “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.” This definition is a little more self explanatory. But if we combine those definitions then we get something like…
Cooperative Learning– the acquisition of knowledge involving mutual assistance in working towards a common goal
Now that we have a definition lets get some examples of cooperative learning in the classroom.
Now what makes this a great example of cooperative learning. Well let’s make a list
- Students are working together towards one common goal (organizing the cards correctly)
- They are being put out of their comfort zone to complete a task
- Discussion is a necessary part of this activity
- Each student has a different job throughout the process
- The teacher has spelled out exactly what to do
- Everyone in the classroom contributes to the end goal
This to me is a great example of cooperative learning. One can see all that it takes to truly succeed at cooperative learning. Not only does it involve the students but it involves the teacher. Discussion causes students to be invested in the topic, it also opens up conversation and each student is able to showcase their knowledge and hopefully help others learn.
Cooperative learning is essential in the classroom and in life. We work our best when we are able to talk things out and receive input from others. Working in teams allows people to give their own input and help others learn by exposing them to new information, new ideas, and new perspectives on a specific situation. Cooperative learning is a strategy that can be helpful in any lesson, any subject, any school, anywhere. Cooperative learning is universal because it is effective. It is important that we as teachers know what cooperative learning is and are able to effectively include it in our classrooms. Hopefully this post gave a good outline to what cooperative learning, and now the next step is to effectively incorporate it in our classrooms as much as possible.
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