The Benefits of Cooperative Group Work
Jan 16, 2010 Lesson Planning 7822 Views
Here are five reasons why you must use cooperative group work in your lessons together with some creative ways of grouping your students:
1. There is less incentive for pupils to disrupt the lesson to get your attention because attention is being received naturally - from the other members of the group.
2. Positive peer relationships are developed as a result of pupils helping each other to reach a common goal.
3. Lower achieving pupils gain confidence and motivation by working collaboratively with higher achieving students. The high ability students also benefit through the process of guiding and supporting their fellow group members - their understanding of the material is reinforced.
4. It saves the teacher time. Once students get used to the cooperative learning framework they effectively teach themselves. The teacher is free from constant requests for attention and can give quality support when it is required rather than when it is demanded.
5. Social skills such as self-expression, decision-making, responsibility, accountability, sharing, listening, and conflict management are naturally practiced and developed. This has a knock-on effect of reducing the occurrence of behaviour problems brought about due to a lack of these skills.
There are many ways to group students when you're preparing a group activity. Different types of groupings have different benefit sand challenges, so the type you choose depends on various factors. In some cases it might be suitable to allow pupils to pick their own groups but generally it will be up to the teacher to decide which groupings work best for the class and for particular projects.
This is one of the quickest ways to form groups and is best suited to either 'fun' sessions where the mix of individuals is not so important, or new groups of individuals you don't yet know particularly well. Like friendship groups (where students are simply told to get together in a group with their friends), pupils see this as a 'fair' way to be grouped as it is based on chance rather than a deliberate choice made by the teacher. As you get to know your students you will naturally find that grouping some individuals together is not appropriate, and you will gradually move away from 'random groupings' to more planned and organised methods such as diverse cooperative groups where students' abilities and genders are taken into consideration.
Ideas for forming 'Random Groups'
1. Pull the names out of a hat
2. Chocolate bars/candy
This method is very popular with students and is a good one to use on a special occasion, or when you are trying to get a difficult group on side.
Buy a range of chocolate bars or small packets of sweets/candy. You need the same number of sweet types as groups you want to form (so no 'hundreds and thousands'!). The best to use are the 'fun size' chocolate bars - you get around fifteen to twenty of one type in a bag. Six groups of five would require therefore six different types of candy and five of each type.
Stick one chocolate bar/packet of candy under each seat (using tape) and when you want the students to form their groups ask them to check their seat to find their gift. They then arrange themselves in groups of the same candy type.
To make sure groups don't get mixed up put a large picture of each candy type on the wall in different places around the room. All the 'Mars' bars meet under the 'Mars' picture, all the 'pastilles' meet under the 'pastille' picture etc.
Oops, nearly forgot. Remember to check for food allergies on the SEN register before running this one (unless combining with a first aid class).
3. Comic strips:
Here's a slightly more creative method... Each participant takes a turn at picking a single comic frame out of a large container. After the entire group has each chosen one, the participants begin to search for others with the same comic strip sequence. (Each sequence will relate to a different cartoon character -Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx etc.) After the participants have found everyone in their group, they must arrange themselves so that the sequence of frames is in chronological order to form the comic strip correctly and then sit down together.
I hope you like those and found them useful. If you want more ideas like this they can be found in our lesson improvement program: