> I am responding to Jerome Albani's<email@example.com> message > concerning a cooperative learning activitie which M&M's. The activity > was used with 7th and 8th graders. Jerome do you have any advice > regarding how to get 7th and 8th graders to work cooperatively. I'd > appreciate any help you could give. > > Thanks, > > Mike Stull > <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I am truly a novice in the cooperative/collaborative learning field -- having used this approach for only the past year.
In reflecting on how I got the students to work cooperatively last year I attribute whatever success I've had to 1) Starting off with the group learning from day one. When they walkd in the room, the desks were arranged in groups of 4, and they were asked to seat themselves. The room stayed in this arrangement all the time. The first lesson/activity of the year was cooperative in nature. They worked in pairs and had to produce a joint product (in my case I had them produce a Time Line -- the activity came from Glenoe's Investigating Mathematics book). All questions and decisions directed toward me were redirected back to the pair, and if they were stuck they were told to check with the other pair in their foursome
2) I continually tried to structure activities and learning situations which would make them reliant upon each other. Group assignments were given which nearly always had a "group grade" component along with individul accountability. One grade was given to the group, which was based upon each group member's individual performance. Quizzes were given in which there was usually a part where a) group members either collaboratively worked a solution or b) Different problems were given to each member, and they and their partner were allowed to help each other or check each other's work. They would then get a joint grade for this part.
3) I continually changed groups, they had to learn to get along and work with everyone in their class. Groups were changed every 5 weeks using various strategies. At the beginning I continually had to tell them that they didn't have to like thier partner, but they had to be able to work with him/her. Once the students got to know each other by working together -- much of the complaints about not liking people dissipated.
Once the students realized that THEY were benefitting from group work more than by working by themselves, did the consistent cooperation materialize. They also had to realize that in my class them and their fellow students were the primary sources of information and that I would intervene only when they had attempted to get the information from each other first.
Hope this all helps. Jerry Albani Christian Brothers Academy Syracuse, New York 13214