My name is Molly Bennett and I am a recent graduate from SUNY Geneseo. I hold my Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education with Special Education and a concentration in Spanish. This is my second semester of my masters and I'm excited to learn more about curriculum development, as well as learn new ways to integrate technology into my classroom. I'm currently working as a preschool teacher and have enjoyed working with younger students. This job has reinforced the important of good classroom management and maintaining a positive attitude with my students! When I'm not working or sleeping, I like to run, cook, bake, and read.
Cooperative Learning in K-12 Classrooms
The topic that I picked for my mini course is Cooperative Learning in K-12 classrooms. For this mini course, learners will develop a deeper understanding of what cooperative learning is, and the role that it holds in classrooms ranging from kindergarten through high shcool. When done correctly, cooperative learning allows all students to take an active role in their learning and work together to solve problems. This course will focus on the different types of cooperative learning grouping, and the advantages of each, as well as ways to create an environment where cooperative learning will thrive.
The purpose of this course is to give teachers a guide on ways to create a cooperative learning environment in their classrooms, teach the benefits that cooperative learning has on students, and ways to avoid the potential downfalls that come with this learning environment. The course will help teachers to foster an understanding of what in means for a classroom to truly utilize cooperative learning that isn't just group work, and how to allow students to work together so that every student's voice is heard, and each are able to play a role in their learning.
By the end of this course educators will be able to answer or reflect on the following questions:
- What does it mean for a classroom to be a cooperative learning environment?
- What are the different types of cooperative learning and when are they most useful?
- How do students benefit from cooperative learning?
- What are some advantages and disadvantages to cooperative learning?
- What strategies can I use to effectively create a cooperative learning environment?
Link to access Minicourse: Cooperative Learning in the K-12 Classroom
Multiple studies have been done determining the effectiveness of cooperative learning within the classroom. Not only has utilizing cooperative learning in the classroom been linked to higher levels of student achievement, but researchers have also found there to be an increase in student's social skills (Lumpe, Haney, Czerniak, 1998). With evidence pointing so strongly towards why teachers should be utilizing cooperative learning strategies in the classroom, teachers still do not feel properly prepared to utilize these strategies. There seems to be a disconnect between teachers ideals and teachers abilities, and a lack of instruction has lead to this.
While many teachers report feeling improperly trained on methods to help them to incorporate their classroom, others report a lack of support coming from administration (Lumpe et al., 1998). When teachers are placed in an environment that doesn't welcome a newer learning style and materials aren't made available to them, they are less likely to try a new approach.
Another misconception that is tied into the concepts of lack of training and lack of support, is a sense of fear that many teachers feel. Without knowing about ways to effectively incorporate cooperative learning, many teachers shy away from it due to fear that they will loss control of their classroom by putting so much control in the hands of the students, and fear that teachers won't be able to cover their whole curriculum (Kagan, 2012).
While information is available to teachers which points to a long list of benefits to utilizing cooperative learning, without being trained on how and why these strategies work, there is resistance to utilizing it. Teachers must be trained in order to overcome the fear, and administrators and teachers must be on the same page in regards to what learning styles will be utilized within the district.
What is to be Learned
Educators, preservice teachers, and administrators will learn about the cooperative learning process and effectiveness of utilizing this learning style in a K-12 classroom. In addition, lessons will focus on what cooperative learning is and what it looks like in a K-12 classroom, the different types of cooperative learning groups and when they should be utilized, how students benefit from cooperative learning, and important strategies for both teachers and administrators. By creating an environment when everyone is aware of the types of cooperative learning and ways to eliminate it, it will allow for the fear to be overcome.
This course is going to help the learners to develop a deep understanding of what cooperative learning is, what it looks like, and what is important for successful implementation of cooperative learning. Specifically, we are going to have 5 units, each of which is going to build off of the previous one.
The first unit is going to serve as an introduction to cooperative learning and is going to have you think about your understandings of cooperative learning. This unit is going to focus on what the teacher should do before introducing cooperative learning, what the classroom environment should be set up like, what the teacher should do while the lesson is going on, and what students should be doing. Additionally, this unit will look at the differences between cooperative learning and group work, and why cooperative learning is more successful.
The second unit is going to focus on specific types of cooperative learning activities. We are going to watch videos so we can see cooperative learning in action, and start seeing what cooperative learning looks like. We will then focus on six cooperative learning activities and discuss why they are useful and important in the classroom. We will then return back to the classroom jobs and roles that can be assigned to students, and what these roles look like in the activities we discussed.
The third unit is going to focus on advantages and disadvantages to cooperative learning. We will go over the pros and cons, and then discuss how to avoid the downfalls to cooperative learning. This is going to provide you with ways to successfully implement cooperative learning. You will build your toolbox and figure out what you should do to avoid the common pitfalls to cooperative learning.
The next two units will allow you to practice cooperative learning and creating activities. Unit 4 has two learning activities. The first is going to provide you with a sample lesson where cooperative learning was utilized, but the teacher had a lot of issues with it. You are going to analyze this lesson, state what went wrong, and describe what you would have done differently. The second learning activity is going to ask you to critique a lesson where cooperative learning was not utilized, and state what cooperative learning activity you would have used for this lesson. You will rationalize why you chose the activity you did and why it would make the lesson successful.
The final unit is going to have a review section, and a section that is going to ask you to create your own cooperative learning lesson. This is going to require you to put together all the knowledge you have learned throughout this course and put it to the test. Your mini lesson is going to utilize a cooperative learning strategy, and you will state what you are going to do to make it successful.
Learners for this mini-course will include both teachers and administrators who are currently teaching in grades K-12, as well as preservice teachers who are on their way to achieving their certification in teaching. Those who participate in this course will learn why cooperative learning is such an effective learning style, and further, different ways to implement it to make a determination for what will work best in their classroom. For pre-service teachers, by learning about the effectiveness of cooperative learning and ways to implement it in their future classrooms, this learning style will become more readily available due to their prior training and learning regarding the effectiveness.
Analysis of the Leaner and Context
Learners in this mini course will be a variety of K-12 educators and preservice teachers who have a variety of knowledge pertaining to cooperative learning. Learners will have experiences with a variety of students in regards to their grades, demographics, and academic abilities. Because of this, learners will be welcomed to learning about a variety of cooperative learning styles and seeing their effectiveness when used with a variety of learners.
Context for Instruction
Participants in this mini course will complete the course online, in a setting of their choosing. Instruction will be delivered via the Wiki, which will utilize readings, videos, and other media resources. Throughout the course, learners will be asked to relate what they are learning to their students, in attempts to create a connection to the material. Learners will learn through reading prompts, reading articles, watching videos, and reflecting on questions. The reasons for this is so that learners will be able to go at their own pace and have all materials readily available to them. Students will be asked to engage with their learning and work through the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy to create a mini lesson in the end. The units leading up to the final summative assessment will take learners through different levels of Bloom's Taxonomy so they are prepared with all the information they need to create their own mini lesson using these strategies. Additionally, learners will be engaged in activities and assessed throughout the mini-course to ensure effective learning. The activities will be for the learners to keep track of their learning and ideas, and to create a platform where they can see how their ideas grow and change as the lesson goes on. The assessments will be mainly in the form of exit tickets, with a unit assessment at the end of each unit and a final assessment at the end of the final unit. The rationale for this is to keep students engage with their learning and keep them accountable for what they are doing. If the learners are struggling with the exit ticket or final assessment, they are encouraged to go back and re-do the lesson or re-read the articles and materials provided. If not, they may struggle when they are asked to create using the material they learned, if it has not been learned effectively.
Exploring Instructional Problems/Solutions
Participants in this mini course will work to overcome their misconceptions and fears that are frequently associated with cooperative learning styles through engaging in activities and viewing videos demonstrating effective cooperative learning groups. Additionally, the participants will be opened to opportunities to relate the material to their own students and determine strategies that would be effective for their classrooms. By providing learners with varied opportunities and engaging in a range of activities, learners will achieve a better sense of what it means to have a cooperative learning classroom, and how to do so effectively.
Goals of this Mini-Course
The main goal for this mini course is to provide teachers and administrators with the knowledge of what it means to have a cooperative learning environment and the effectiveness of this learning style. To achieve this goal, participants will first learn about what cooperative learning is. Secondly, they will learn about different cooperative learning strategies, and the the advantages and potential drawbacks associated with these. Third, participants will be taught strategies in order to help successfully utilize cooperative learning in their classroom.
There are going to be 5 main Performance Objectives for this course. Each objective is going to be the main goal of the unit. Within the unit, there will be 2-3 lessons which will guide you to achieve the main objective of the unit.
1. Following instruction on cooperative learning, students will state what components are necessary in a cooperative learning environment. Additional, students will receive instruction on cooperative learning and group work, students will state the differences between the two concepts, highlighting what it means to have a cooperative learning environment.
2. Given articles and media-based materials, students will be able to discuss what they see in a cooperative learning environment, and state the different types of cooperative learning that they see take place. Students will be able to describe six different cooperative learning activities and the main components of each to make them successful.
3. Given an outline and an article, learners will read about advantages and disadvantages of cooperative learning. After reading, learners will be able to analyze why certain issues arise during cooperative learning and engage in a discussion on ways to avoid these issues from occurring.
4. Following instruction on strategies to utilize cooperative learning, learners will reflect and critique two lessons: one which used cooperative learning strategies but had a lot of issues with it, and one that did not use cooperative learning but should have. Learners will state what they would have done differently in each, providing reasons why it would have made the lessons more successful.
5. Given a four units of instruction in cooperative learning and a lesson which reviewed the main points, learners will create their own mini lesson using a cooperative learning strategy, justifying why they chose the strategy they did and how they would make the lesson successful.
- Participants should have experience in K-12 setting; either as a student or teacher
- Participants should have an understanding of different learning environments
- Participants should have the skills to navigate an online space, including YouTube
Unit 1: Introduction to Cooperative Learning
In this unit learners will..
- Describe what they think a cooperative learning classroom looks like
- Identify different aspects of a cooperative learning environment
- Discuss the differences between cooperative learning and group work
Unit 2: Why Should I Use Cooperative Learning
In this unit learners will...
- Discuss what kinds of cooperative group work they see taking place
- Compare their knew ideas to what they previously believed a cooperative learning environment looked liked
- Classify the different types of cooperative learning that takes place
Unit 3: Advantages & Disadvantages to Cooperative Learning
In this unit learners will...
- Examine the advantages and disadvantages to cooperative learning
- Outline reasons why issues arise during cooperative learning
- Examine whys to avoid issues from arise and what steps to take during a lesson if issues arise
Unit 4: Practice Utilizing Cooperative Learning
In this unit learners will...
- Critique a lesson where cooperative learning was not utilized and
- Select a style of cooperative learning that would have enhanced the lesson
- Validate how the lesson would have been enhanced and potential drawbacks
Unit 5: Create A Cooperative Learning Mini-Lesson
In this unit learners will...
- Reflect on what they learners about cooperative learning and how their knowledge changed throughout the course
- Design their own mini-lesson utilizing cooperative learning
- Validate why this lesson would be successful and why they chose the strategy that they did
References and Resources
Kagan, S. (2012). Overcoming resistance to kagan structures for engagement. Kagan Online Magazine, Summer 2012.
Lumpe, A. T., Czerniak, C. M., & Haney, J. J. (1998). Science teachers beliefs and intensions regarding the use of cooperative learning.School and Science Mathematics, 98(3), 123-135.