Monday, February 15, 2010

Cooperative Learning

So last Thursday was a day many teachers love, and loathe...a half day.  This day's agenda included students in the morning, and a presenter in the afternoon.  Quite unusually we had no idea who the presenter was, or what we would be I had thought the worst, I was pleasantly surprised!  The agenda for the session was Cooperative Learning and I was worried that none of the content would apply to my students.  I listened intently as we learned about structures for - think, pair, share; RoundRobin & RoundTable; and numbered.... While all these structures would be very useful in general education classroom, I cannot see a way to use them effectively with students with more significant cognitive disabilities.

As the session continued I was very impressed by our speaker and the way she used us to demonstrate how to work cooperatively (as compared to listening to a lecture for 2 hours about 21st Century Skills, but I'm not getting into that one!).  She then started talking about some techniques for 2 students to use - one called Match Mine, the other Same/Different.

Same/Different is a structure where students look at sets of pictures and are asked to find similarities and differences between the sets of pictures.  A divider is placed up between the students so they cannot see each others boards so are forced to use language to identify the similarities and differences.  I can imagine a BINGO type board with lets say 9 squares, 6 of them have mammals.  Now we have 2 of these boards, some of the mammals would be the same, some different, and in different places.  The task of the students is to determine what animals are on the board & where they are located...the opportunity for language development is spectacular!  I can especially see using this with AAC users to help them increase their understanding of their devices. One of these sets of boards might look like this:

Match Mine is a similar concept: 2 students, a divider, and one student tells the other how to match what they have.  I can see this during a math lesson on time, or maybe have a student give a amount of coins and have the other student create the same.  Again this would be a great way to use language for students!

I hope I have some time to try these this week and if I do I'm sure I'll be sharing here!


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