Good morning, Although I have just subscribed to this list I have followed the discussion concerning co-operative learning. I would like to share with you an initiative I undertook a couple of year ago and how this has contributed to the general understanding of mathematics in young children who were at risk of failing mathematics. I established a "Mathematics Recovery" program at my school to catch those young children (Year 1,2) who were at risk of not understanding the mathematical concepts being "taught" in the school syllabus. The work of the teachers assigned this project was based on the previous work in "Reading Recovery" by Marie Clay and the ongoing work of Bob Wright (University of New England - Australia). The small group of children in each "class" (3 or 4 children) were taught in what I now regard as a "constructivist" classroom environment. I should add here that all children in these years were given a series of tasks to assess their current knowledge of and understanding of the basic concepts of counting (based largely on Steffe's work) and those whose understanding was quite undeveloped were selected as participants. Emphasis was focussed on using those intuitive strategies the child already had and building on these. It was not the quantity of material covered during the lesson but on the quality. Ideas were "bounced" off the children. With these very young children, at first at least, co-operative learning was not a feature of their behaviour - nor was the instruction to *TALK* to each other about what they were doing. As the classes continued, the teachers reported that the degree of child-to-child interaction was increasing and co-operative learning was being learned. This become an ongoing feature of the environment. Children were helping each other to learn. The teacher became the aide - to challenge, to prompt and to dare. After the sixteen weeks of the initial project most children were able to return to their normal class mathematics lessons and know they understood what everyone was able to do. An increase in self-confidence was evident. The project has now become an integral feature of another school (Alas my school was closed - but that is another sad and long story.) and is being accepted by my home state as an area for further development. I hope that my comments add constructively to this interesting discussion. Regards, K.
Kevin J. Maguire School of Education Telephone: 61 3 9479 2080 La Trobe University Melbourne Victoria