Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Back to School and Creating Classrooms that Support Group Learning


   Cooperative Learning Styles seem to be all the buzz. But, they are not new concepts. Did you know that Cooperative Learning Styles were first studied more than thirty years ago? But, just recently researchers began to study certain kinds of cooperative learning styles, Cooperative Learning and Group Investigation Models (Joyce, Weil & Calhoun, 2009).


  What is Cooperative Learning?
  
   We all know that most jobs in the workforce have people working together. So, Cooperative Learning teaches your students real world skills, an ability to get along with others and an understanding of different types of people and their beliefs. In Cooperative Learning, instructors teach students to successfully interact with each other (Joyce, et al., 2009). Studies have shown that Cooperative Learning increases an individual’s motivation to learn. Just like teachers, most kids like to talk about their work and yet, also interact socially.



Principles that Guide Cooperative Learning
   There are principles that guide cooperative learning groups. The children learn to collect and investigate data and then to reflect on their assumptions. In Cooperative Learning, the kids typically work in pairs or in groups of three. The groups can then alternate with different assignments.

   A Cooperative Learning group...

(1) inspires the team to bond
(2) encourages group members to learn from each other
(3) creates both cognitive and social activities
(4) fosters relationships
(5) develops an ability to be constructive in groups
(6) enhances self-esteem
(7) implements training in learning with others
(Joyce, et al., 2009)

Trained to Work Together Effectively
   Your kiddos can't go it all alone. Students need to be trained to work effectively in small groups. So, how does a teacher help the kids to achieve all of this?

1. The teacher assigns all a task to do. One student can be listening or making sure the facts are correct. Another contributor can be a spokesperson or a specialist in an aspect of the task, and another can take notes.

2. Students need to know the teacher’s sign to stop work. The sign can be a way of clapping, music, a timer, or other ways of capturing their attention. Then, the class waits to listen for directions.

3. The small groups can be involved in a competition against the other teams.

4. The teacher may decide to have all the groups work cooperatively.

Group Investigation Model
   In the Group Investigation Model, students learn by questioning problems (Joyce, et al., 2009). This focus on questioning can actually alter learner’s values. Students become both the contributors and the onlookers. There is little classroom structure, but the instructor mediates activities. The teacher also gives suggestions and evaluates students’ progress. The goal is for each student to gain  a sense of personal significance in a nurturing environment (Joyce, et al., 2009).

                                                   In a Group Investigation Model...

1. First, the teacher challenges the students with a problem.
         Let's say the problem is global warming.
2. The instructor brings in varying viewpoints of the students into the conversation.
         "The world has not changed much in temperature over time."
        "No, actually, the sea water is rising in the Artic!"


3. The students then analyze the problem for themselves in a group.
       The first group finds information on the Internet that the temperature has climbed 0.7 degrees Celsius in the past century according to a NASA article.
       The second group reports that Glen Beck stated in a journal that experts were warning of an ice age before they were even warning about global warming. In 1970, people were warned by scientists that the world would end in 15 to 30 years.


4. Lastly, the team gives an account of their findings and reflects on their solution or beliefs again.

   In the end, students might changes their ideas or keep the same viewpoint. But, the children should learn to respect other's thought and ideas as they should someday in the workplace.


References
Earth Observatory.(n.d). How is today’s warming different from the past? Retrieved from http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page3.php

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2009). Models of teaching (8th ed). Pearson Education, Inc.

Ritz. E.(2015). Glenn beck ruthlessly mocks ‘ridiculous’ climate change predictions in honor of earth day. Retrieved from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/04/22/glenn-beck-ruthlessly-mocks-ridiculous-climate-change-predictions-in-honor-of-earth-day/


Imagery supplied by Thinkstock.com

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