Friday, August 31, 2012

Powerful Uses of Cooperative Learning in ANY Classroom With ANY Student

As Common Core standards begin to surface in classrooms across the country, students will be faced with more demanding assignments covering much more technical readings.  Project based learning (PBL) will be a focus in many classrooms at all grade levels.  

How will PBL be handled in the classroom?  PBL will employ many of the approaches of cooperative learning.  In PBL, cooperative learning groups will be very focused on accomplishing an assigned task.  ELLs will be in all mainstream classes so teachers will need to make sure that support is built into groups with these students. What face could this support take?  Visual notes, students with same personality types working as a team, some bilingual academically successful student team members, charts and posters in every corner of the room for the ELLs to reference as needed in completing their tasks within the group, regular monitoring/facilitating of the teacher to support as needed, video clips, graphic organizers, mind maps, etc. 

How long should PBL segments last?  Typically, no more that 10-12 minutes on average.  When students know that there is a time limit, they tend to stay focused longer.  This determination is evident in how the group, as a team, makes decisions based on feedback from each member of the group.  Further, since students know that each one is accountable for being able to share with the class what their group accomplished, every student works on being able to share their group's results.

UNC COOPERATIVE LEARNING  Here is an excellent description of cooperative learning activities.  With accessible language all around the ELL, s/he will be able to actively participate in an PBL activity successfully.

BEST PRACTICES  This site offers some suggestions to prepare ELLs to do well in cooperative group activities.  The videos are very effective.


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