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Topic: Who Uses Group/Cooperative Learning?
Replies: 3   Last Post: Jun 26, 1995 10:44 PM

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Eileen Abrahamson

Posts: 85
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Who Uses Group/Cooperative Learning?
Posted: Jun 26, 1995 10:44 PM
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Katherine wrote:
>I also found that many students didn't feel like I was doing my
>job in requiring them to exhibit some independence in their
>learning. They really wanted me to "tell it at them" all the
>time and felt very insecure in making and testing their own



I am a fourth grade teacher, and you may be surprised to find out that even
fourth graders (if they come to me from a very traditional classroom) want
to sit back and have me pour it in. It's more comfortable, you don't have
to be accountable, because after all if you do not learn it is not your
fault it is the teachers, and "THINKING" is hard work! Many students even
by the time they are in fourth grade have come to the conclusion that they
should not be expected to think.

This is probably the most insidious part of continuing to lecture at
students - the implication that they are not responsible for thinking. If
any of your are familiar with Costa's work on thinking, he also discusses
this issue.

>I'm hoping to see some very concrete ideas about using group
>work. Also, for those of you who have used it extensively,
>what do you do about the one or two students who refuse to
>participate and how do you handle the students who are problems
>to their group members?

Part of working successfully with other team members, is learning to work
with team members who will not cooperate. I consider it the task of the
group to "normalize" (a montessorri term) the team members. Team members
who are difficult to handle are a reality, not only on learning teams, but
in all group settings. Part of the power of working in groups is learning
to control these situations.

My favorite story about such a situation occurred when I taught
kindergarten. The students task was to collect data regarding a container
of Skittles.(candy) When their presentation to the rest of the class was
complete they could share the skittles. One group had a particularly
difficult student in their group. (I intentionally put him in with the
group that had one of the most mature students)

Out of sheer determination on the part of one student, the group completed
their task and made their presentation. At the conclusion of the
presentation the groups split up the Skittles. The one student turned to
the boy who was causing all the problems and said, "If you think your
getting any of these your dreaming !" "Next time we work, if you work with
us you can share in the goodies."

Sounded a bit tough, and I wasn't sure how many phone calls there would be
to the principal, superintendent, etc. by the boys parents, but I decided
that the group decision must stand.

Guess what -- there was never another problem with that student during
learning team work. :-)


"From the mouths of babes..."

Eileen Abrahamson
Edw. Neill Elemetary
13409 Upton Ave. So.
Burnsville, MN 55337

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