Cooperative Learning Strategies, Pt. 2

Looking for more ways to incorporate cooperative learning in your classroom? Here are five more techniques to try.

To see Part 1 of this series, click here. 

Round Robin

The Round Robin strategy is a cooperative learning technique that ensures active participation and equal opportunities for all students to contribute to a discussion or share their ideas.

It involves organizing students in a circle or a semi-circle and providing each student with an opportunity to take turns contributing their thoughts, answers, or responses.

Here's how the Round Robin strategy typically works:

1. Arrange the seating. Set up the classroom with chairs arranged in a circle or a semi-circle to facilitate the discussion. Make sure every student has a clear view of the others in the group.

2. Pose a question or prompt. The teacher presents a question, statement, or prompt related to the topic of discussion. It could be a thought-provoking question, a problem-solving scenario, a review question, or any other prompt that encourages students to share their thoughts and ideas.

3. Start the round robin. The teacher designates a starting point, usually by selecting a student or by going in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction around the circle. The chosen student has the floor and the opportunity to share their response to the question or prompt.

4. Pass or share. After the first student shares their response, they have the option to pass or choose another student to share their thoughts next. If they pass, the teacher can select the next student in the circle, ensuring that every student gets a turn to contribute. If the student chooses another student, they can indicate who they would like to speak next, and that student will have the opportunity to share.

5. Follow the round. The discussion continues, with each student taking turns sharing their thoughts, ideas, or responses to the question or prompt. The teacher can keep track of the order to ensure that every student has an opportunity to contribute before repeating the cycle.

6. Encourage active listening. While students are not speaking, they should actively listen to their peers and demonstrate respectful and engaged listening behaviors. This includes making eye contact, nodding in agreement, and being attentive to what others are saying.

7. Facilitate further discussion. Once every student has had a chance to contribute, the teacher can encourage further discussion, allow students to respond to each other's ideas, or summarize the key points shared during the Round Robin.

The Round Robin strategy ensures that all students have an equal opportunity to participate and share their ideas. It promotes active listening, respectful communication, and equal distribution of speaking turns.

Additionally, it encourages students to think critically, articulate their thoughts, and engage in collaborative discussions.

Gallery Walk

The Gallery Walk strategy is an engaging and interactive activity that allows students to explore and analyze a variety of visual displays or written materials placed around the classroom.

It encourages active learning, collaboration, and reflection.

Here's how the Gallery Walk strategy typically works:

1. Prepare the displays. Prior to the activity, prepare different displays or materials related to the topic or concept you want students to explore. These can include charts, posters, photographs, artwork, written excerpts, or any other visual or written representation of information or ideas.

2. Distribute displays. Place each display or material in a different location around the classroom. Ensure that they are spaced out to allow students to move freely between them. You can assign a unique number or letter to each display to make it easier for students to refer to them during discussions or reflections.

3. Introduce the activity. Explain the purpose and expectations of the Gallery Walk to the students. Let them know that they will be exploring the displays and engaging in meaningful discussions about the content presented.

4. Provide guidelines or questions. Give students specific guidelines or questions to focus their exploration and discussions. These guidelines or questions should encourage students to analyze, interpret, or reflect on the content of each display.

For example, you can ask them to identify key ideas, make connections, or ask thought-provoking questions related to the displays.

5. Begin the Gallery Walk. Students move around the classroom individually or in small groups, visiting each display in any order they choose. They spend time closely examining the displays, reading the information, observing the visuals, and considering the questions or guidelines provided.

6. Engage in discussions. As students explore the displays, encourage them to engage in discussions with their peers. They can share their observations, insights, and responses to the questions or guidelines provided. They can discuss their interpretations, ask each other questions, and build upon each other's ideas.

7. Rotate through displays. After a set amount of time, announce a signal or instruction for students to rotate to the next display. This allows them to explore all the displays over the course of the activity.

8. Reflection and summary. Conclude the Gallery Walk by gathering students together and facilitating a whole-class discussion or reflection. Students can share their overall impressions, highlight interesting findings, discuss common themes or connections, and reflect on their learning experiences during the activity.

The Gallery Walk strategy promotes active exploration, critical thinking, and collaborative discussion among students. It allows them to engage with visual and written materials in a hands-on manner, encouraging deeper understanding and knowledge construction.

Additionally, the activity provides an opportunity for students to practice their communication skills, engage in respectful conversations, and reflect on their learning processes.

Numbered Heads Together

The Numbered Heads Together strategy is a cooperative learning technique that promotes active participation, collaboration, and accountability among students. It involves assigning numbers to students within a group and using those numbers to randomly select individuals to contribute or answer questions.

Here's how the Numbered Heads Together strategy typically works:

1. Form groups. Divide the class into small groups, typically consisting of four to six students. Each group works together as a team throughout the activity.

2. Assign numbers. Assign a unique number to each student within the group. For example, in a group of four, assign the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 to the students.

3. Pose questions or tasks. The teacher presents a question, problem, or task to the class. This could be a multiple-choice question, a problem-solving scenario, a review question, or any other prompt that requires student responses.

4. Think and discuss. Give students time to think individually about the question or task and discuss their ideas within their group. This allows them to formulate their responses and collaborate with their peers.

5. Randomly select a number. Use a random method, such as pulling a numbered chip from a container or using a random number generator, to select a number. This number corresponds to a student within each group who will be called upon to contribute or answer the question.

6. Students respond and discuss. Once a number is called, the selected student within each group has the opportunity to provide their response or answer to the question. They can explain their reasoning or share their solution with the rest of their group.

7. Team discussion and consensus. After the selected student has shared their response, the entire group engages in a discussion to clarify or confirm their answer. They collaborate to reach a consensus or refine their thinking, supporting their reasoning with evidence or examples.

8. Repeat the process. Continue posing questions or tasks, randomly selecting numbers, and allowing students to respond and discuss within their groups. This ensures that all students have an opportunity to actively participate and contribute to the activity.

The Numbered Heads Together strategy encourages active engagement, collaboration, and critical thinking among students. It provides a structured framework that ensures every student's participation and holds them accountable for their learning.

Additionally, the strategy promotes communication skills, the exchange of ideas, and the development of teamwork within small groups.

Think-Aloud Pair Problem Solving

This is a cooperative learning technique that encourages students to think critically, communicate their thought processes, and collaborate to solve problems. It involves pairing students together and having one student solve a problem or complete a task while verbally explaining their thought process, while the other student actively listens and engages in the problem-solving process.

Here's how the Think Aloud Paired Problem Solving strategy typically works:

1. Pair students. Pair up students, ideally with partners who have complementary strengths or abilities. It's beneficial to mix students with varying levels of expertise or skill in the subject matter.

2. Present the problem or task. Introduce a problem or task to the pairs of students. This can be a math problem, a logical puzzle, a writing prompt, or any activity that requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

3. Think aloud. Instruct one student in each pair to be the problem solver. They take the lead in solving the problem or completing the task while verbalizing their thought process aloud. This includes explaining their reasoning, considering different approaches, making decisions, and discussing potential solutions or strategies.

4. Active listening and collaboration. The other student in the pair becomes the active listener and collaborator. They attentively listen to their partner's thought process, ask clarifying questions, provide suggestions, and engage in a dialogue to deepen their understanding of the problem and contribute to the problem-solving process.

5. Rotate roles. After a reasonable amount of time or when the problem solver feels they have made sufficient progress, rotate the roles. The student who was actively listening becomes the problem solver, and the problem solver takes on the active listening role. This allows each student to experience both problem-solving and active listening.

6. Reflect and discuss. Once both students have had an opportunity to be the problem solver and active listener, have the pairs reflect on their experience. Encourage them to discuss the challenges they encountered, strategies they used, and what they learned from their partner's thought process.

7. Whole-class sharing. Conclude the activity by inviting pairs to share their experiences and insights with the whole class. This can include discussing effective problem-solving strategies, highlighting different approaches taken by pairs, or presenting any interesting discoveries made during the activity.

The Think Aloud Paired Problem Solving strategy promotes critical thinking, metacognitive skills, communication, and collaboration. It allows students to verbalize their thinking, listen to alternative perspectives, and develop a deeper understanding of problem-solving strategies.

Additionally, the strategy fosters a supportive learning environment where students can learn from and contribute to each other's problem-solving processes.

Peer Tutoring

Peer tutoring is a cooperative learning strategy where students assume the role of both tutor and tutee, providing support and guidance to their peers in a specific subject or skill. It involves pairing students together, with one student acting as the tutor and the other as the tutee. 

Here's how the peer tutoring strategy typically works:

1. Assess student needs. Identify the specific needs or areas where students require support or additional help. This could be in a particular subject, a specific skill, or a concept that students find challenging.

2. Pair students. Pair students together, matching a student who has a stronger understanding of the subject or skill with a student who would benefit from additional support. You can pair students based on their strengths and weaknesses, or use assessments to determine appropriate pairings.

3. Training and guidelines. Provide clear guidelines and expectations to both the tutor and tutee. Train tutors on effective tutoring techniques, active listening, providing explanations, and being patient and supportive. Emphasize the importance of creating a positive and respectful learning environment.

4. Tutoring sessions. Allocate dedicated time for tutoring sessions. These sessions can take place during regular class time, during study hall periods, or in a separate tutoring session outside of class. The tutor and tutee work together on specific tasks, assignments, or concepts.

5. Structured tutoring activities. Provide the tutor with structured activities or materials to guide the tutoring session. This could include practice problems, study guides, worksheets, or specific tasks aligned with the learning goals. The tutor guides the tutee through the activities, offering explanations, clarifications, and step-by-step instructions

6. Monitor and support. As the teacher, closely monitor the tutoring sessions to ensure the tutor is providing appropriate support and guidance. Offer assistance or clarification when needed, and provide feedback and guidance to both the tutor and tutee.

7. Reflect and assess. After the tutoring sessions, encourage both the tutor and tutee to reflect on their experience. Have them discuss what went well, challenges they encountered, and strategies they found effective. Assess the progress of the tutee to determine if additional support or adjustments to the tutoring arrangement are needed.

Peer tutoring promotes several benefits, including academic growth, improved understanding of concepts, increased self-confidence, and the development of communication and leadership skills for the tutor.

Additionally, it fosters a supportive and collaborative classroom environment, where students learn from and support each other's learning processes.