Cooperative Learning Strategies, Pt. 1

Want to integrate more cooperative learning in your classroom? Here are 5 easy strategies to try.


Think-Pair-Share is a cooperative learning strategy that encourages active participation and collaboration among students. It provides students with time for individual reflection, peer discussion, and sharing their ideas with the whole class. The Think-Pair-Share strategy typically consists of three steps: thinking individually, discussing with a partner, and sharing with the whole class.

Here's how Think-Pair-Share works:

1. Think The teacher presents a question, problem, or prompt to the class. Each student takes a moment to think about their own response or solution to the question. This allows them to process the information and form their initial thoughts independently

2. Pair  After the individual thinking time, students are paired up with a classmate, preferably someone different from their usual partner. In their pairs, students share their thoughts, explanations, or solutions with each other. This step encourages students to articulate their ideas, listen to their partner's perspective, and engage in a discussion.

During the pairing stage, it can be helpful to provide specific guidelines or sentence stems to support effective communication and encourage students to elaborate on their ideas. For example, you might prompt them to explain their reasoning, provide examples, or ask clarifying questions.

3. Share After the pair discussion, the teacher invites students to share their thoughts or solutions with the whole class. This can be done in various ways, such as having a few pairs share their ideas, randomly selecting pairs to present, or using a think-pair-share protocol where every student has an opportunity to share.

During the sharing phase, students can take turns speaking, or the teacher can moderate the discussion and invite other students to ask questions or provide feedback on the shared ideas.

The Think-Pair-Share strategy allows students to reflect on their own thinking, engage in meaningful conversations with their peers, and actively participate in the class discussion. It promotes critical thinking, collaboration, and the development of communication skills.

Additionally, it provides a comfortable environment for students to express their ideas before sharing with the entire class, boosting their confidence and encouraging active engagement in the learning process.

Reciprocal Teaching

Reciprocal teaching is a cooperative learning strategy that promotes active engagement and comprehension in reading or other content areas. It involves a structured approach where students take turns leading discussions and assuming the role of the teacher.

Reciprocal teaching typically focuses on four main comprehension strategies: predicting, clarifying, questioning, and summarizing.

Here's how it works:

  1. Introduce comprehension strategies. Begin by explaining and modeling the four main comprehension strategies (predicting, clarifying, questioning, and summarizing) to the students. Provide examples and guide them through each strategy's purpose and how to apply it while reading.
  2. Assign roles. Divide the class into small groups, typically consisting of four students. Assign each student a specific role corresponding to one of the four comprehension strategies: Predictor, Clarifier, Questioner, and Summarizer. Rotate the roles after each reading passage or session.
  • The Predictor. This student anticipates what will happen next in the text based on prior knowledge, context clues, or foreshadowing. They make predictions and explain their reasoning to the group.
  • The Clarifier. This student focuses on identifying and clarifying confusing parts or unknown vocabulary in the text. They ask questions to address any comprehension gaps or seek clarification from the group.
  • The Questioner. This student generates thoughtful and relevant questions based on the text. These questions can range from literal to inferential and aim to deepen understanding and stimulate discussion.
  • The Summarizer. This student synthesizes the main ideas and key details of the text. They provide a concise summary to the group, highlighting the most important aspects of what was read.

3. Reading and discussion. Students take turns assuming their assigned roles as they read a passage or a section of a text. After each student reads, they engage in a discussion, with each student contributing based on their role.

  • The Predictor shares their predictions and evaluates if they were accurate.
  • The Clarifier asks questions to address any confusion or ambiguity encountered while reading.
  • The Questioner poses questions to promote deeper understanding or spark further discussion.
  • The Summarizer provides a concise summary of what was read, focusing on the main ideas and key details.

4. Rotate roles and continue reading. After each round of reading and discussion, rotate the roles so that each student has an opportunity to practice each strategy.

Teacher facilitation: As the teacher, you should monitor the groups, provide guidance, and facilitate discussions. Intervene when necessary to clarify misconceptions, provide additional support, or extend students' thinking.

Reciprocal teaching encourages students to actively engage with the text, collaborate with their peers, and develop their comprehension skills. It fosters critical thinking, improves reading comprehension, and enhances students' ability to monitor and regulate their own understanding of the text.


The Jigsaw strategy is a cooperative learning technique that promotes collaboration, active engagement, and collective knowledge construction among students. It involves dividing a larger task or topic into smaller sections or subtopics, with each student becoming an expert on one section. Students then regroup with peers who studied different sections to teach each other and complete the whole task or topic.

Here's how the Jigsaw strategy typically works:

1. Divide into expert groups. Divide the class into small groups, typically four to six students. Assign each group member a specific section or subtopic related to the larger task or topic. For example, if the topic is a historical event, each group might be assigned a different aspect, such as the causes, key figures, consequences, or different perspectives.

2. Expert group study. Students within their expert groups study and gather information about their assigned section or subtopic. They research, read, discuss, and become knowledgeable experts in their specific area. They can take notes, create visual aids, or prepare presentations to share their expertise.

3. Regroup with mixed experts. Form new groups, commonly called the "jigsaw groups," by selecting one student from each expert group to form a diverse group of experts. Each student in the jigsaw group is responsible for sharing their expertise with their new group members.

4. Teach and share. In the jigsaw groups, students take turns presenting and teaching their section to their group members. They explain the key points, share information, answer questions, and provide any visual aids or notes they prepared. The other group members actively listen, take notes, and ask clarifying questions.

5. Collaborative task completion. Once each student has shared their expertise, the jigsaw group collaboratively works on a task or project that requires integrating the information from all the sections. This task could be a discussion, a group presentation, a written report, a debate, or any activity that requires the collective knowledge of the group.

6. Reflect and debrief. After completing the collaborative task, the class comes together for a debriefing session. Students reflect on their learning experience, discuss the connections between the different sections, and share their insights and new understandings of the topic as a whole.

The Jigsaw strategy encourages active engagement, cooperative learning, and the development of teamwork skills. It fosters individual accountability as each student becomes an expert responsible for their section and promotes the sharing of knowledge and perspectives within the jigsaw groups.

By working collaboratively on the final task, students consolidate their learning, deepen their understanding of the topic, and appreciate the interrelatedness of different aspects within a broader concept or subject.


The Fishbowl strategy is a cooperative grouping strategy that promotes active listening, discussion, and reflection among students. It involves setting up a small group of students in the center (the "fishbowl") while the rest of the class forms an outer circle around them.

The students in the fishbowl engage in a focused discussion or activity while the students in the outer circle observe and take notes.

Here's how the Fishbowl strategy typically works:

  1. Preparation. Select a topic, question, or statement that will be the focus of the fishbowl discussion. It could be a controversial issue, a literary passage, a problem-solving scenario, or any other subject relevant to your lesson.
  2. Create the fishbowl. Arrange chairs in a circle or semi-circle in the center of the classroom. This is the designated space for the students who will actively participate in the discussion.
  3. Assign roles. Determine how many students will be in the fishbowl and select them based on predetermined criteria, such as their prior knowledge, perspectives, or ability to contribute to the discussion. You may also assign specific roles to students within the fishbowl, such as a facilitator, a note-taker, or a timekeeper.
  4. Set discussion guidelines. Before starting the fishbowl activity, establish clear guidelines for the participants. Emphasize active listening, respect for differing opinions, and the need to support arguments with evidence. Encourage students in the outer circle to take notes during the discussion.
  5. Conduct the fishbowl discussion. The students in the fishbowl take their positions and begin the discussion. They share their ideas, opinions, and responses to the topic or question while following the established guidelines. The rest of the students in the outer circle observe and listen attentively.
  6. Rotation. After a specific period of time or when a significant point is reached in the discussion, the teacher can pause and invite a few students from the outer circle to join the fishbowl and replace some of the current participants. This rotation allows different students to have an opportunity to actively engage in the discussion.
  7. Debrief and reflection. After the fishbowl discussion, facilitate a debriefing session where students from both the fishbowl and the outer circle can share their observations, insights, and questions. Encourage students to discuss what they learned, how their understanding evolved, and any new perspectives they gained.

The Fishbowl strategy promotes active listening skills, critical thinking, and respectful communication. It allows students in the fishbowl to develop their speaking and argumentation skills while providing an opportunity for those in the outer circle to practice their note-taking and reflective skills.

By actively observing the fishbowl discussion, students in the outer circle can also learn from their peers' ideas and perspectives.

4 Corners

The Four Corners strategy is an interactive and engaging classroom activity that encourages students to express their opinions, engage in discussion, and explore different perspectives on a given topic. It involves dividing the classroom into four distinct corners, each representing a specific viewpoint or response option related to a statement or question.

Here's how the Four Corners strategy typically works:

  1. Pose a statement or question. The teacher presents a statement, question, or prompt that has multiple possible responses or viewpoints. This could be a debatable topic, an ethical dilemma, a historical event, or any subject that allows for different perspectives.
  2. Designate the four corners. Assign a different response or viewpoint to each of the four corners of the classroom. For example, you can label the corners as "Strongly Agree," "Agree," "Disagree," and "Strongly Disagree." Alternatively, you can use labels that represent different options, opinions, or choices related to the statement or question.
  3. Students choose their corner. Students move to the corner that represents their opinion, response, or viewpoint on the given statement or question. They should choose the corner that aligns with their beliefs or the option they feel most strongly about.
  4. Engage and discuss. Once students are in their designated corners, they engage in discussion with their peers who share the same viewpoint. They can share their reasons, provide evidence or examples to support their position, and listen to their classmates' perspectives. This discussion helps them develop their arguments and consider alternative viewpoints.
  5. Rotate and discuss across corners. After a designated amount of time or when the discussion in the corners has reached a point of depth, the teacher can ask students to rotate to a different corner. This rotation allows students to engage with peers who hold different opinions or viewpoints. They can then engage in new discussions, challenge their own beliefs, and gain a deeper understanding of different perspectives.
  6. Share insights and reflections. After students have had the opportunity to discuss in multiple corners, the teacher can facilitate a whole-class discussion where students share their insights, reflections, and any changes in their perspectives as a result of engaging with different viewpoints.

The Four Corners strategy encourages critical thinking, active participation, and respectful dialogue among students. It allows them to explore diverse perspectives, develop their communication skills, and consider multiple viewpoints on a given topic.

Additionally, this strategy promotes the ability to evaluate arguments, build empathy, and engage in constructive discussions.