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Topic: Re: Co-operative learning
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Kevin J.Maguire

Posts: 16
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Co-operative learning
Posted: Jun 26, 1995 8:52 PM
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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.

Kevin J. Maguire
School of Education Telephone: 61 3 9479 2080
La Trobe University

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