By Michael Michels
Teachers learn a variety of different skills and strategies throughout their college education. Once employed, teachers hone their skills by finding out what really works in the classroom for them. Many teachers also further their education by attending graduate school or other professional development workshops and seminars. In so doing, teachers keep abreast of the most effective teaching strategies. The most recent trend among teachers of all kinds is Cooperative Learning. Cooperative Learning can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. Cooperative Learning in its true meaning is probably occurring a fraction of the time that a teacher thinks it is in their classroom.
Cooperative Learning in its true form has groups of students working together to achieve a common goal or task. The problem is we usually end up with group work. Group work is drastically different from Cooperative Learning. When group work is occurring, students are usually bored, unmotivated and not actually cooperating much at all. One student may do all the work and give the answers to the other members of his/her group. Other times, each student may do a few questions each and then give the answers to everyone else in their group. The bottom line is, group work does not allow all students to gain as much as they can from the lesson. It is an unstructured learning experience where some students did a lot of the work and others did very little or none. Because of the lack of structure many students also feel left out.
In true Cooperative Learning, students are given a structured task where everyone is involved and individual accountability is built in. Students are working together to achieve success and have a positive learning experience. They all will participate equally so individuals arenMike Michels is a Science Teacher at Indian Hills High School in Oakland, New Jersey. He has Co-Authored two books through Kagan Cooperative Learning. They are "Cooperative Learning & Science: High School Activities" and "Higher-Level Thinking Questions: Biology". The books can be previewed and purchased online by visiting http://kaganonline.com/. Spencer Kagan is an industry leader of Cooperative Learning throughout the world. His "structures" allow teachers to keep students accountable, positive and on task while interacting with each other in mangaed teams.
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