co operative learning by r9O6R257




   Training Day 2005
Co-operative Learning is a thoroughly researched and highly effective method
of teaching that is now well over 25 years old. There are many parallel strands
of research and innovation that have seen the development of many
variations on the theme. However there are certain essential ingredients
which are common to all of the various approaches.

The two main purposes for co-operative learning are the same irrespective of
the style or approached used: improved academic attainment and increased
interpersonal skills.

We would like to gratefully acknowledge the research and work of Don
Brown and Charlotte Thompson but also wish to thank them most of all
for their inspiration and infectious enthusiasm.

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The research findings of William Glasser, on how people learn, will help us to
understand the fundamental strengths of Co-operative Learning. He suggests
that we remember:

                          10% of what we read
                          20% of what we hear
                           30% of what we see
                       50% of what we hear and see
                   70% of what we discuss with others
                  80% of what we experience personally
                     90% of what we teach to others.

Children traditionally spend much of their time in lessons reading, hearing and
seeing. We obviously need to change the balance. The concept of
Co-operative Learning places a much greater emphasis on the more efficient
ways of learning, as demonstrated by William Glasser.

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The basic elements of Co-operative Learning described below are taken from
‘Circles of Learning' (Co-operation in the Classroom (Revised Education), by
R. T. Johnson and D. W. Johnson. They will be used as they basis for this
programme and will be referred to in each of the structures described.

Collectively they will be known by the acronym PIGSF.

Positive Interdependence

Students must feel that they need each other in order to complete the group's
task that they "sink or swim" together. Some ways to create this feeling are
through establishing mutual goals (students must learn the material and make
certain group members learn the material), joint rewards (if all group members
achieve above a certain percentage on the test, each will receive bonus
points), shared materials and information (one paper for each group or each
member receives only part of the information needed to do the assignment)
and assigned roles (summariser, encourager of participation, elaborator).

Face-to-Face Interaction

No magic exists in positive interdependence in and of itself. Beneficial
educational outcomes are due to the interaction patterns and verbal
exchanges that take place among students in carefully structured co-operative
learning groups. Oral summarising, giving and receiving explanations, and
elaborating (relating what is being learned to previous learning) are important
types of verbal interchanges.

Individual Accountability

Co-operative learning groups are not successful until every member has
learned the material or has helped with and understood the assignment. Thus
it is important to frequently stress and assess individual learning so that group
members can appropriately support and help each other. Some ways of
structuring individual accountability are by giving each group member an
individual exam or by randomly selecting one member to give an answer for
the entire group.

Interpersonal and Small Group Skills

Students do not come to school with the social skills they need to collaborate
effectively with others. So teachers need to teach the appropriate
communication, leadership trust decision- making and conflict management
skills to students and provide the motivation to use these skills in order for
groups to function effectively.

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Group Processing

Processing means giving students time and procedures to analyse how well
their groups are functioning and how well they are using the necessary skills.
The processing helps all group members achieve while maintaining effective
working relationships among members. Feedback from the teacher and/or
student observers on how well they observed the groups working may help
processing effectiveness.

Taken from Johnson, R. T. and Johnson, D. W. (1986) ‘Circles of Learning'
Co-operation in the Classroom (Rev. Ed.), Edina, MN: Interaction Books

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             Basic Principles of
            Co-operative Learning
    1. Face to Face Heterogeneous Learning Teams
    (Interactive Learning)
   Learning becomes an active rather than a passive process
   Learning teams promote oral summarisation and elaboration of the
    materials being learned
   Team members learn to value individual differences
   Reviewing materials for other team members clarifies and cements
    concepts for the reviewer.

    2. Positive Interdependence
    (We sink or swim together)
   There are many ways to create a ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ attitude:
    Common goals, group rewards, shared resources, complementary and
    interconnected roles, division of labour within the task, shared name,
    symbols and group identity, shared space etc.

    3. Individual Accountability
    (No hitchhiking/freeloading)
   Team members have two tasks:
     To be sure they have contributed their fair share to completing the task
       and learning the material; and
     To encourage all team members to contribute their fair share and to
       help them learn the material.
     Team members may be individually tested or serve as spokesperson
       for their group.

    4. Explicit Training in Interpersonal Skills
    (We are not born co-operative)
    Team members learn both:
     Task orientated skills for working together effectively (how to co-
       ordinate efforts collaboratively; how to communicate well)
     Group maintenance skills for working together positively. ( how to
       relate well and encourage others)

    5. Reflection
    (How to monitor and process the group’s experience)
   Team members identify what they have experienced and learned (both the
    academic content and their group interaction), they analyse how they
    learned it and generalise their learning to new situations.
   Team members set goals for both their team and themselves on how to
    improve their team performance in the future.

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                 A Co-operative Learning Classroom
       The teacher must establish the will and the skill to co-operate.
                             (Kagan, 1994)

   A safe environment where risks can be taken without fear of ridicule (i.e.
   Diversity is celebrated – everyone is valued;
   Conflict resolution strategies are in place.

Strategies and methods that help to create a ‘needs-fulfilling’ classroom:

   Build relationships and a sense of belonging;
   Encourage students to support each other in their learning;
   Empower students and foster self-responsibility;
   Provide fun and enjoyable learning experiences.

1. Building relationships and a Sense of Belonging
The first step is to ensure that everyone knows each other. Strategies to
facilitate this are as follows:

          Name games – students sit in a circle and say their name in turn.
           The aim of the game is to see how quickly they can get around the
           circle. Repeat and time. Go round the other way with everyone
           saying the name of the person on their right, then the person on
           their left.
          Form a horseshoe – in order of the initial of their first names.
           Once everyone lined up, they can say who they are and one thing
           about themselves, e.g. favourite hobby, food, TV programme, etc.
           The teacher can note similarities and differences and model valuing
          Human Treasure Hunt - the teacher devises a sheet of 10
           questions and gives one to each pupil, the pupils then have to find
           someone who can answer each category, e.g. was born in a place
           other than Hull. The pupil signs the other’s question, but can only
           sign the paper once and before signing must tell the other a little
           about the answer. (This works well with older pupils.)
          Line-ups – line up according to some dimension e.g. height,
           number of pets owned, distance to school, etc. It can work well to
           time this to see if they can beat their own ‘record’.
          Sharing similarities – teacher asks the pupils to find someone who
           shares something, e.g. wearing the same colour socks, same
           number of brothers and sisters, etc.
          Just like me! - Students sit in a circle and the teacher, or a pupil
           says ‘I went to the beach in the holidays’ Everyone who did the
           same says ‘Just like me’ and stands up. A variation is to have
           everyone with something the same, e.g. who likes tuna sandwiches,

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           to stand up and change places. If there is one chair short (it starts
           with someone standing) then there is always someone left who has
           to say something.
          Make a class logo, song, rap, cheer, etc. – many of the team
           building activities, also apply to class building.

2. Encouraging pupils to support each other’s learning
Teachers must give the message that what is valued most is not only pupils
achieving their own goals, but also supporting others to achieve theirs and
being helped by them in turn. Teachers can start by establishing shared
goals beginning with paired work and moving to team work when they are
ready. Emphasise the importance of face to face interaction (i.e. knees to
knees and face to face) to facilitate good listening and response. Strategies
to help paired work are:

          Timed talking (see Structures) – this is a method for pairs to work
           together to tell everything they know or can remember about a
           particular topic. Pairs listen to each other, taking turns to tell
           everything. They may not repeat what a partner has said but they
           may elaborate. They must try and speak continuously for the time
           allotted. The time is usually one minute or may be shorter. The
           procedure is as follows:
           (i)     Establish topic. Label one partner A and one B.
           (ii)    On signal partner A shares what they know for 35 seconds
                   and partner B listens carefully.
           (iii)   Partner B shares thoughts for 15 seconds and A listens.
           (iv)    Partner A then adds anything further for 10 seconds (this
                   step can be omitted).

          Think/pair/share (see Structures) – this introduces to peer
           interaction, the notion of ‘wait time’ which has been demonstrated
           to be a powerful factor in improving student responses to teachers’
           questions. The following steps should be followed:
           (i)     Teacher asks a question (preferably open-ended);
           (ii)    Pupils are given think time;
           (iii)   Pupils then turn to a partner to share ideas and challenge
                   each other;
           (iv)    The pair shares ideas with the class or another pair.
           The use of physical signs may encourage participation, e.g. index
           finger to hear to show thinking, turn to partner to share, holding up
           hands together to show ready to share. Ask no more than two or
           three pairs to share. If it is a yes/no response the rest of the class
           can use a thumbs up/down signal to show agreement.

3. Empower pupils by fostering responsibility
One of the goals of co-operative learning is to develop pupils who are
independent and lifelong learners. In order to do this, it is important to set up
a classroom where pupils feel they take part in shared decision making on a
range of classroom issues. This does not mean that teachers hand over
control to the class, but that some aspects are shared, e.g.

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      (i)     Pupils have an input on the arrangement of furniture in the
      (ii)    They could have a say on how their work is displayed, or have a
              part of the classroom designated to them, e.g. a class
      (iii)   Setting up class rules and expectations. This provides a good
              opportunity to link rights with responsibilities, i.e. pupils have the
              right to be safe, therefore they have the responsibility not to
              harm others, students have the right to learn, therefore they
              have the responsibility not to prevent the learning of others, etc.
      (iv)    Regular class meetings form an ideal vehicle for class decision
              making which can also foster the sense of belonging and

4. Fostering Enjoyment in Learning
Human beings enjoy interaction with others. Co-operative learning fosters
this interaction and as a result pupils enjoy it. The activities have an
academic purpose, but are often enjoyable and pupils will have fun

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                Teaching Co-operative Learning Skills
By creating a safe and supportive learning environment, the teacher will have
built the ‘will’ to work together. However, this is not sufficient, unless the skills
of group work are also taught.

A guiding principle in teaching group and interactive skills is to teach them in
the context in which they will be used. Teamwork skills can be divided into
task skills and working relationship skills. These incorporate the following:

Task Skills
 generating, contributing and elaborating on ideas
 staying on task
 managing time successfully
 following directions
 planning and reviewing progress

Working relationship skills
 acknowledging contributions
 checking for agreement
 disagreeing in an agreeable way
 being encouraging
 showing appreciation.

Stages in teaching the skills:

1. Establish the need for the skill
   - brainstorm the skills needed
   - discuss factors that helped
   - discuss factors that hindered
   - teacher poses ‘What if…’ scenarios (e.g. what if everyone left the
      group when they felt like it?)
   - teacher chooses the skill and gives the rationale

2. Defining the skill
   - Use a T chart (draw a large T on the board or large paper with either
      side of the T marked ‘sounds like’ and ‘looks like’, with the class draw
      up a list of what the skills sounds like and looks like. A double T chart
      can be used which also includes ‘feels like’. This can then form a
      poster in the classroom for constant reference while the skill is
      practised and refined.

3. Guided Practice
   - Provide opportunities for pupils to practice with corrective feedback.
      Encouraging feedback helps pupils persist and in the early stages
      feedback is needed more often.
   - The teacher monitors, observes, intervenes, coaches, reinforces and
      encourages. A major task is to observe the level of group skills,
      identify areas of need and provide coaching where necessary.

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   -   Group reflection is essential element in developing group skills.
       Groups reflect on how well they practised the skill and how they could
       become more effective in using it. This reflection may be at some
       point during the lesson rather than at the end and thus avoid it being
       left out.

4. Generalised application of the skill
   Once the skill has been established, the teacher provides opportunities for
   using the skill in a range of contexts. The group reflection sheet could
   include a section where pupils identify other situations where the skill
   could be used.

Specific Teamwork Skills

1. Listening –often described as active listening. This requires five elements
   to be in place:
   (i)    looking at the speaker
   (ii)   sitting still
   (iii)  being quiet
   (iv)   hands on lap or folded
   (v)    concentration

   Pictures, denoting these elements can form a constant reminder.
   Teachers can then request ‘active listening’ rather than asking pupils to be

2. Volume of voices – noise level needs to be kept to a certain level in a co-
   operative learning classroom. Pupils need to agree on an appropriate
   noise level for certain activities (e.g. ‘20cm voices’). The teacher can
   demonstrate in appropriate noise levels, for example by whispering
   instructions to the back of the room and shouting to someone nearby. A
   noise monitor can be appointed who is given a number of red cards and
   when noise from a particular table gets too high, a red card is placed on
   that table. The teacher can also provide an agreed signal to show noise
   level to high, but the aim is for groups to self-monitor the noise level and
   take responsibility for improving in the future.

3. Management Signals – establishing certain agreed signals helps provide a
   positive atmosphere, for example a zero noise signal, active listening
   signal or a 1-2-3 move signal.

4. Helping and encouraging each other – have a particular focus and look for
   pupils that are doing so and share with the class.

5. Everyone participating – teacher to monitor groups for full participation.
   Use of strategies such as think/pair/share and numbered heads will
   encourage full participation.

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6. Completing tasks – teacher to monitor that firstly children are on task and
   understand the task, secondly they are working within the given time-scale
   and thirdly that they are ready to report back to the class.

7. Conflict resolution – a regular class time or meeting to discuss problems
   and solutions. This may be incorporated with circle time. Pupils to be
   taught a range of conflict stoppers as well as a method for resolving

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                               Active Listening

We often ask children to listen or to watch but what they actually do is see
and hear. Thinking and reflection must be involved if children are to learn. Use
the term “Active”. Listening is not passive but something you need to be
actively involved with. Discuss body language, expectations of what should be
seen and heard in the classroom if children are listening. This will establish a
baseline for all other activities within the overall strategy.

Listening is an active process that has three basic steps.

   1. Hearing. Hearing just means listening enough to catch what the
      speaker is saying. For example, say you were listening to a report on
      zebras, and the speaker mentioned that no two are alike. If you can
      repeat the fact, then you have heard what has been said.

   2. Understanding. The next part of listening happens when you take what
      you have heard and understand it in your own way. Let's go back to
      that report on zebras. When you hear that no two are alike, think about
      what that might mean. You might think, "Maybe this means that the
      pattern of stripes is different for each zebra."

   3. Judging. After you are sure you understand what the speaker has said,
      think about whether it makes sense. Do you believe what you have
      heard? You might think, "How could the stripes to be different for every
      zebra? But then again, the fingerprints are different for every person. I
      think this seems believable."

Tips for being a good listener

   1. Give your full attention on the person who is speaking. Don't look out
      the window or at what else is going on in the room.

   2. Make sure your mind is focused, too. It can be easy to let your mind
      wander if you think you know what the person is going to say next, but
      you might be wrong! If you feel your mind wandering, change the
      position of your body and try to concentrate on the speaker's words.

   3. Let the speaker finish before you begin to talk. Speakers appreciate
      having the chance to say everything they would like to say without
      being interrupted. When you interrupt, it looks like you aren't listening,
      even if you really are.

   4. Let yourself finish listening before you begin to speak! You can't really
      listen if you are busy thinking about what you want say next.

   5. Listen for main ideas. The main ideas are the most important points the
      speaker wants to get across. They may be mentioned at the start or
      end of a talk, and repeated a number of times. Pay special attention to
      statements that begin with phrases such as "My point is..." or "The

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      thing to remember is..."

   6. Ask questions. If you are not sure you understand what the speaker
      has said, just ask. It is a good idea to repeat in your own words what
      the speaker said so that you can be sure your understanding is correct.
      For example, you might say, "When you said that no two zebras are
      alike, did you mean that the stripes are different on each one?"

   7. Give feedback. Sit up straight and look directly at the speaker. Now
      and then, nod to show that you understand. At appropriate points you
      may also smile, frown, laugh, or be silent. These are all ways to let the
      speaker know that you are really listening. Remember, you listen with
      your face as well as your ears!

Thinking fast
   Remember: time is on your side! Thoughts move about four times as fast
   as speech. With practice, while you are listening you will also be able to
   think about what you are hearing, really understand it, and give feedback
   to the speaker.

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                            THINK, PAIR, SHARE

Think, Pair, Share is a structure first developed by Professor Frank Lyman at
the University of Maryland in 1981 and adopted by many writers in the field of
co-operative learning since then. It introduces into the peer interaction
element of co-operative learning the idea of ‘wait or think’ time, which has
been demonstrated to be a powerful factor in improving student responses to

It is a simple strategy, effective from early childhood through all subsequent
phases of education to tertiary and beyond. It is a very versatile structure,
which has been adapted and used, in an endless number of ways. This is one
of the foundation stones for the development of the ‘co-operative classroom.’


Processing information, communication, developing thinking.


Sharing information, listening, asking questions, summarising others’ ideas,


1. Teacher poses a problem or asks an open-ended question to which there
   may be a variety of answers.
2. Teacher gives the students ‘think time’ and directs them to think about the
3. Following the ‘think time’ students turn to face their Learning Partner and
   work together, sharing ideas, discussing, clarifying and challenging.
4. The pair then share their ideas with another pair, or with the whole class. It
   is important that students need to be able to share their partner’s ideas as
   well as their own.


Positive interdependence
The students are able to learn from each other

Individual accountability
Students are accountable to each other for sharing ideas. The student may
also be required to share their partner’s ideas to another pair or whole group.

Equal participation
Each student within the group has an equal opportunity to share. It is possible
that one student may try to dominate. The teacher can check this does not

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Simultaneous interaction
High degrees of interaction. At any one moment all of the students will be
actively engaged in purposeful speaking and listening. Compare this with the
usual practice of teacher questioning where only one or two students would
be actively engaged.


   Before a lesson or topic to orient the class (previous knowledge etc).
   During teacher modelling or explanation.
   Any time, to check understanding of material.
   At the end of a teacher explanation, demonstration etc, to enable students
    to cognitively process the material.
   To break up a long period of sustained activity.
   Whenever it is helpful to share ideas.
   For clarification of instructions, rules of a game, homework etc.
   For the beginning of a plenary session.


Think, Pair, Share can be used in all curriculum areas and is limited only by
the creativity of the teacher. This structure along with Numbered Heads
Together is an excellent substitute for the normally competitive structures in a
question and answer session.


This is an essential structure to introduce early in the process of establishing
the ‘co-operative classroom.’ It ensures a high level of engagement (it is hard
to be left out of a pair!) and is more secure than a large group.

Think, Pair, Share has many advantages over the traditional questioning
structure. The ‘Think Time’ incorporates the important concept of ‘wait time’. It
allows all children to develop answers. Longer and more elaborate answers
can be given. Answers will have reasons and justifications because they have
been thought about and discussed. Students are more willing to take risks
and suggest ideas because they have already ‘tested’ them with their partner.

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                     NUMBERED HEADS TOGETHER

The structure of Numbered Heads Together is derived from the work of
Spencer Kagan. There are a number of variations on the method, some very
simple and others with a greater degree of complexity. This structure can be
used in conjunction with ‘Think, Pair, Share’ early in the development of the
Co-operative Classroom.


Processing information, communication, developing thinking, review of
material, checking prior knowledge.


Sharing information, listening, asking questions, summarising others’ ideas,
talking quietly.


1. Number off the students in each group, up to four. If one group is smaller
   than the others have no. 3 answer for no. 4 as well. The teacher can give
   numbers or students can give numbers themselves.
2. Teacher asks the students a question or sets a problem to solve. It must
   be stressed that everyone in the group must be able to participate and
   answer the question.
        Ensure enough ‘wait time is given for the group to do the task.
        There is an expectation that everyone in the group will be able to
        answer the question following the discussion.
Kagen suggest the teacher phrases questions beginning with; “put your heads
together and…” or “Make sure you can all…” There are many other ways of
ensuring the teacher cues the students into the collaborative activity.
3. The students work together. They quite literally “put their heads together”
   in order to solve the problem and also ensure that everyone in the group
   can answer the question.
4. The teacher now asks for an answer by calling a number. (this might be at
   random or can initially be decided by the teacher in order to ensure the
   process is successful) The students with the number called then take it in
   turns to answer. If there are not enough students ready to respond the
   teacher may judge that a little more time is needed or extra support given.

5. When the teacher is satisfied answers can be taken, there are a number of
 Select one student.
 Select one but ask others to elaborate, comment etc.
 Ask different students to give a particular part of the answer
These are all sequential responses. The teacher can also use what Kagen
describes as simultaneous answers:
 All students showing their work.
 Students using whiteboards to show their group work.

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Positive interdependence
The students are able to learn from each other. They must also work together
to ensure there is one product to their learning. They must check that
everyone can understand and answer the question.

Individual accountability
High. Students are accountable to each other for sharing ideas. The student
may also be required to share their partner’s ideas to another pair or whole
group. Every student must be able to give the group response to the question.

Equal participation
Each student within the group has an equal opportunity to share. It is possible
that one student may try to dominate. The teacher can check this does not

Simultaneous interaction
High degrees of interaction. At any one moment all of the students will be
actively engaged in purposeful speaking and listening.


   To involve whole class in the consideration of a question or problem.
   To increase individual accountability.
   To increase group teaching so that all members of the group are coached.
   To increase team spirit and satisfaction.
   To give support to all students in consideration of challenging questions or

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Numbered Heads Together is suitable for any curriculum area and can be
used as an extension or in combination with the ‘Think, Pair, Share’ structure.


‘Numbered Heads Together’ is an excellent structure for combining Learning
Partnerships into groups or teams of four. It can be used early in the
development of the ‘co-operative classroom’ and as with ‘Think, Pair, Share’
offers a high degree of engagement but slightly higher order interpersonal and
small group skills are needed.

The important concept of ‘wait time’ is incorporated and allows all children to
develop answers. Answers will have reasons and justifications because they
have been thought about and discussed. Students are more willing to take
risks and suggest ideas because they have already ‘tested’ them within their
group. This structure can also be combined successfully with ‘Check and

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                            CHECK AND COACH

Check and Coach is a strategy devised by Don Brown when working with a
group of teachers trying to master the details of some complex learning
material. This structure is an excellent way to have students work together to
recall and elaborate on prior learning, share information and encourage each
other’s learning.

This structure allows small teams to work together to process new material, to
transform the new material into some new format in order to encode it. Finally,
it allows individuals to test out the mastery of that material in a
non- threatening way using their Learning Partner as the coach.


Processing and review of complex material.


Sharing ideas, checking for understanding, coaching, encouraging, praising
appropriately, helping without telling.


1. Small teams (normally 2 Learning Partnerships) work to encode and
   process new material. They make a graphic representation, poster, visual
   display or some other group product that requires active involvement with
   the material. Whatever the product it must contain the major concepts,
   main ideas and sufficient detail of the original work. This will often be one
   or more pieces of text.
2. The team checks that everyone can understand and explain their work
3. The team prepares a list of questions relevant to the material. Each
   member has a copy of these questions.
4. Individual team members pair with members of another team.
5. On member of the pair is nominated no. 1 and the other no. 2.
6. Partner no. 1 asks the first question on their list. Partner no.2 answers the
   question. The answer is checked and the questioner supplies additional
   information to supplement incomplete answers and ‘coaches’ their partner
   to the correct answer.
7. Roles are reversed and the process is continued until all questions have
   been asked and answered.


Positive Interdependence
High. The group works together to produce one product for their learning.
They must check that everyone can understand and explain and together they
produce a list of questions about their work that everyone can answer. When
the pairs get together for coaching and checking they work together to ensure
that they both can answer the questions.

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Individual accountability
High. Every student must be able to explain the group’s work. They must be
able to answer the questios the group devises. They are accountable for
checking the understanding of another student and coach them if necessary.
They must therefore be in command of the material.

Equal participation
Every student must participate in the group activity in order to understand the
material and be able to take part in the check and coach element of the
structure. Every student has the opportunity to coach and be coached.

Simultaneous Interaction
High. Particularly so in the check and coach stage where at any on time one
student is recalling material and the other is listening and coaching.


 For reviewing and reteaching newly learned material.
 Any situation where the teacher wants to check the students have learned
  the material. This structure allows the teacher to deligate this task to peers.


Groups make a summary of a play, a book, text extract or character sketches
just studied. Students can check and coach each other’s knowledge of what
has been learned.

Groups make a graphic representation of the causes of a major event.
Students then check and coach each other on the topic.
Groups make a visual display of the major features of another culture or a
compare and contrast matrix of two cultures. Students then check and coach
each other’s understanding.

Groups make a summary of the process and outcomes of an experiment.
They check and coach each other on the details.

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                               THE DOUGHNUT

The doughnut is a simple activity that can enable students to have a
structured conversation with several people in a short space of time. It can
develop the idea of movement within the classroom for a specific purpose. It
is a forerunner to the more complex activities involving Home Groups, experts,
envoying etc. and is particularly suitable for younger students. Sometimes
known as Inside-Outside Circle this activity can be used as a development of
‘circle time’.


Sharing information and ideas, developing ideas, class building,


Talking quietly, moving for a purpose, sharing information, listening,
summarising other’s ideas, paraphrasing, asking questions, help others.


1. Students stand in two concentric circles facing each other.
1. Facing their partner they take it in turns to share information and ideas or
   ask each other questions.
2. At a given signal from the teacher the outside circle moves a given number
   of places clockwise.
3. Students now give feedback on what was said between themselves and
   their previous partner.
4. These steps can be repeated if desired.


Positive Interdependence
Students work in pairs and depend on each other to share ideas, ask
questions and remember what has been said.

Individual accountability
Each person must share information and ideas, they will need to ask
questions and be able to repeat or summarise what has been said

Equal participation
High. All students are involved at all times.

Simultaneous Interaction
All students will be actively engaged in purposeful speaking and listening.

                                       - -                                    22

 Very useful class building activity at the beginning of the year and at other
  times as students can share personal information, likes/dislikes, what they
  have done, favourite TV programmes etc.
 Can be used as a development of circle time with younger students. All
  children can share and talk about what they have done rather than just a
 For mastery or review of material covered during a lesson or module of
 For introducing and focussing upon a new module or area of work.
 Sharing information on a topic. They can question each other and
  paraphrase what they have learned from a previous partner.
 Can be used for forming groups either purely random or with some ability
  grouping, i.e. more able children on the inside of the circle. Pairs can then
  be joined together to make new groups of four.


Can be used across the curriculum for all age groups. Young children can all
participate in speaking and listening activities when sharing their news. (An
excellent development of ‘circle time’).
Older students can learn interview techniques by interviewing each other
across a range of subjects.
A fun way of testing each other using mastery questions in many subjects,
particularly maths, science etc.


This is a very adaptable structure that can be appropriately used with students
of all ages. The skills developed using the Doughnut can be developed upon
with older students undertaking more complex group activities.

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                                 RALLY TABLE

Rally Table is one of the co-operative structures described by Spencer Kagan
in his ‘structures’ approach to co-operative learning. The structure is a
versatile and adaptable one which can be used to bring two pairs together to
make a larger group of four. There is a high degree of interaction between
students at all times.


Sharing information, developing ideas, helping simple recall


Sharing information, listening, working independently, talking quietly.


1. In this structure teams of four first work as pairs. The teacher sets an open-
ended task or asks a problem for which there may be a number of solutions.
There are then two ways in which this structure can be introduced;
 Members of the pairs pass a piece of paper to and fro, taking it in turns to
    write ideas or answers to a problem.
 Members of the pairs write their own lists initially.
2. When time is called the partners who have worked individually look at their
    ideas and draw up a final list. They could take it in turns to read their own
    list while the other partner ticks agreements and adds new items. When
    roles are reversed they will have a common list.
3. When the pair has agreement it is time to share ideas with the other pair in
    the group. This is done in a similar way with one member of each pair
    reading their list while the other again ticks agreement or jots down new
    ideas. The process is reversed and a common list is produced.
4. Once the pairs have shared their answers, they may work as a team, as
    pairs or individuals to construct their final product.


Positive Interdependence
High. The group works together to produce one product for their learning.

Individual accountability
Students share ideas with each other and every student makes a contribution.
Can begin with, or lead to, individual work.

Equal participation
High. All students are involved at all times within this structure.

                                        - -                                   24

   To ascertain prior knowledge at the beginning of a lesson.
   To aid simple recall at any time.
   To identify important elements within an area of work.
   Use as a method of brainstorming ideas.
   At the beginning of a plenary session.
   To develop group support for complex ideas and checking.
   As a form of group re-teaching.


Rally table is a very versatile structure that can be used in any curriculum
area. It is a simple way of bringing two pairs together to create a larger group
with a common aim and purpose. Establishing prior knowledge of a subject at
the beginning of a lesson is always useful as is having a definite starting point
for a plenary

Group response after a Rally Table activity could be oral (see Numbered
Heads Together), a graphic representation, bullet points, Venn diagrams
(my thoughts, your thoughts, shared thoughts) or any other form of written or
pictorial response.


Rally table is an excellent way to bring students together into a group to share
information, develop ideas and encourage individuals to work independently
and with confidence. The flexibility of approach is suited to students who
initially have problems working independently or conversely, have problems
working within a group.

See also Round Robin and Variations.

                                       - -                                     25
                      ROUND ROBIN AND VARIATIONS

The Round Robin and its variations are an extremely simple and useful way of
building up the notion that everyone’s contribution is valid and valuable. The
structure is easy to set up and can provide a quick way of moving from
working in a pair to working within in a group of four. It is similar in concept to
Rally Table but begins with a group of four students working together. There
is a high degree of interaction and the final product is a group effort.


Sharing information and ideas, simple recall, developing ideas, looking at prior


Talking quietly, listening, sharing information, working independently.


1. The teacher asks a multi answer question such as:
 name all possible pairs of numbers that add up to 15
 name all of the characters in a book
 what do you know about…

2. Students take it in turns to answer. This can be done orally or written on a
single piece of paper being passed around the group. If a student does not
have an answer or idea it is legitimate to ‘pass’. Everyone is participating and
there is no ‘down time’. The activity should only last for a short period of time
to ensure pace and continued attention.

3. Feedback given to class using strategies like Numbered Heads. There
could be a scribe in each group adding to the list to create a composite list or
this could be done on a flip chart, board or interactive whiteboard.


Positive interdependence
The lists produced are group lists with everyone contributing to their formation.

Individual accountability
Everyone is required to contribute to the group effort. Roles of scribe and
reporter can be incorporated

Equal participation
High. All students are involved at all times.

                                        - -                                     26

   To ascertain prior knowledge at the beginning of a lesson.
   To aid simple recall at any time.
   To identify important elements within an area of work.
   Use as a method of brainstorming ideas.
   At the beginning of a plenary session.
   To develop group support for complex ideas and checking.
   As a form of group re-teaching.


As with Rally Table, this is a very simple and versatile structure that can be
used in any curriculum area. It is a simple forerunner to Rally Table and can
be used with students who have not yet developed some of the skills needed
for constructive conversation.

It is a quick and simple way for students to share ideas and can stimulate
conversation as students may need to explain what they have written.
For a quick sharing of ideas at the beginning of a session or plenary this is a
very useful structure.

See also Rally Table.

                                       - -                                    27
                                    The Grid

This structure is also known as the Walk Around Survey or Interview. It can be
adapted to a variety of uses in a number of different curriculum areas. It is
suitable for older pupils and other learners.


Class building, reviewing learning at the end of a unit of work, checking prior
knowledge before a lesson or unit of work, sharing ideas.


Listening, sharing ideas, talking quietly, asking questions, summarising
other’s ideas.


Prepare a four by three grid for students. This can be copied from a model on
   the whiteboard.
Label the rows as desired. This will depend on the purpose or lesson.
   For example:
   At the beginning of a course or module you might use:
    What I want to find out…
    Something I know about…
    Something that interests me about…

   If you are using it at the end of a lesson or module you might use;
    What I learned…
    What I did not understand…
    What I found interesting…

                         My column            Other people        Other people
What I learned…
What I did not
What I found

Remember! How you label the grid depends on what you are trying to achieve.
                        This is just an example.

Give time for each student to fill in their own first column with their thoughts
   and ideas.
Tell the students how much time they will have to complete the activity.

                                        - -                                        28
Students move around the room surveying other people. They may only write
    down one idea from each person into the appropriate cell. The person will
    then sign their name in the appropriate cell.
Tell students when they are half way through the allotted time.
At the end of the time students will return back to their groups. Ideas can then
    be shared with the group or with the class as a whole using numbered
    heads or other response techniques.


Positive interdependence
High. Students need to help each other by giving and recording answers if
they are to complete the grid.

Individual accountability
The first part of the task, column one, must be filled in by the student with
discussion. They then have to ensure they interview at least two other people.

Equal participation
All students need to be involved and have the opportunity to participate

Simultaneous interaction
Very high. Everyone is involved and interacting at the same time.


 At the beginning of a module of work or a lesson. This will help focus
  student thinking on the topic.
 At the end of a lesson or module to assist recall and review the content
  material previously covered.
 As a class building, getting to know you activity.


If the Grid is used as a class building activity the rows would be labelled with
such things as favourite pop group, football team, T.V. programme etc. This
structure can be used in any subject to review learned material or to focus
students onto new learning.


The teacher can use this structure to identify gaps in learning for individuals or
groups using labels such as “Something I did not understand” or “Something I
couldn’t do”. Students could be used as the first point of contact helping
partners or others with aspects of learning.

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                    Establishing Effective Teams

                                                May be
                           Assignment                             Random
                             method                           Teacher selected
                                                              Student selected

             determines                         determines
 Purpose                   Type Of                                Size
                                                             May be
           May be

Informal                                                         Pairs
Formal/generic                     determines
Base                                                          Four and no

                                                Can last
                                                  for        Less than 2 mins.
                                                             A lesson
                                                             A project
                                                             A day
                                                             A term

                     assist group members to:
      - get acquainted
      - recognise and value diversity
      - develop a group identity
      - include and support everyone
      - be able to complete the task successfully
      - enjoy themselves and have fun

                             - -                                            30
                                The Use of Roles

When children first begin to work together in pairs or groups they may be
unsure about what they have to do. Giving them a specific function or role
within the group or pair will help them to take on responsibility for their own
actions. The assignment of roles can help to:

  foster positive interdependence, everyone must play their part if the
   group is to succeed
  help develop teamwork, teachers can introduce skills and functions
   needed in a group through the use of assigned roles for specific tasks
  assigning roles moves responsibility into the group and away from the

There are many roles that can be assigned to children depending upon the
task to be undertaken.

At its simplest, being a gofer, a scribe or a reporter, for a pair or a group,
might be the starting point, as it devolves responsibility at a simple level.

The type of role a teacher chooses to assign will be dependent upon the age,
skill level of the children and the task to be undertaken.

Roles can be introduced one at a time so that children can become
accustomed to they way they operate and the teacher can judge the
effectiveness of each one. Children can be observed and chosen to act as
good role models. The first roles will be ‘maintenance’ roles, designed to
facilitate the smooth functioning of the group.

Roles should be taught in the same way as other co-operative skill. Explicit
modelling and the use of T-charts would be very beneficial. The use of role
cards can be given to identify the children and act as cue cards. The
allocation of roles can be teacher directed or at random depending once again
on skill levels.

                                        - -                                       31
                 Hierarchy of Skills Development

          Sit properly. Take turns. Listen to the teacher/peers.
          Know that to listen they put all equipment down and face the speaker,
          Active Listening.
Stage 1
          Make contributions to discussions.
          Work with a Learning Partner in a range of discussions.
          Understand the meaning of purposeful, paired talk.
          Collaborate in pairs. Understand the concept of A/B talk and feedback.
          Know and use response strategies of: Think, Pair, Share.
Stage 2   Collaborate in 2s and 4s to share findings. Round Robin, Doughnut
          Know what a review or plenary is.
           Develop simple roles within groups
          Respond to each other and adults.
          Discuss in pairs and 2s to 4s. Round Robin, Rally Table, Snowballing
          Listen and evaluate rather than waiting to talk.
Stage 3
          Read own texts to peers and adults.
          Group reflection
          Use of roles within groups.
          Paired Talk, A/B, Discussion in 2s and 4s.
          Collaborate as pairs to: Plan/do/review work.
          Follow and give instructions.
Stage 4
          Paired response to text. Check and Coach
          Collaborative discussion and presentation of work to own groups.
          Develop Graphic representations, Use of roles within groups.
          Paired Talk, A/B
          Discussion in 2s and 4s. Round Robin, Rally Table, Snowballing
          Regular use of 2 stay and 2 stray (envoying), use of roles within
Stage 5
          Introduce Hotseating, Numbered Heads
          Be able to organise discussions to include all parties within the group.
          Take part in group presentation to the class.
          Group Reflection, Develop Graphic representations
          Collaborate as a group to: Plan/do/review work.
          Take turns to lead discussions within a group.
          Well developed use of roles
Stage 6   Regular use of ‘experts’ and presenting to other groups. 2 stay and 2
          stray (envoying) Use of Home and Jigsaw groups
          Share tasks for extended periods.

          Recognise and use social dynamics (groupings) and learning styles.
          Present work and ideas confidently as reviews or plenaries.
          Develop presentations using appropriate ICT.
Stage 7
          Be able to organise discussions to include all parties within the group.
          Use of Home and Jigsaw groups. Well developed use of roles
          Be able to summarise discussions and present to the group.

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