Working Together, Working To Get There

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. here is a link to my twitter account that I will be posting these blogs and other science teaching related information!


  1. Tom,

    I liked your blog post this week. I liked how you broke down “cooperative learning” to get the true meaning behind it. After watching your video, your explanation was right on the dot! I liked how you mentioned how the students had to get out of their comfort zone and had to discuss with their peers. Like you said, they have to work together to figure out the right answer. I would have liked you to mention some of the different types of cooperative learning and also talk about the difference between teams and groups. What is the difference? Overall, great post!


  2. Tom,
    One thing I really enjoyed about your post was the list of what makes for good cooperative learning. It was simply laid out, and was very easy to follow. One thing I would have really liked to see was the different methods of cooperative learning. It would have given the reader a few more ideas on how to actually implement cooperative learning into the classroom. Another thing I would have liked to see was some real world examples of how this idea of cooperation is beneficial. You did a great job of putting it into words, but making these words more concrete in the form of examples would have been refreshing.

  3. Tom-
    I was particularly drawn in by your original picture of a runner crossing a finish line. This imagery, though simple, really brought to life the idea of students achieving a goal together, especially if you think of it in terms of a relay race. This brings out the concept of interdependence, where each member of the relay team must run their part or else the other runners stand no chance. Your examples throughout this post were creative and able to be replicated in science classrooms, and I plan on utilizing some of them in my own class! All in all, great work!

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