From WikiEducator
Jump to: navigation, search

M. in Ed. Adriana Medina Franco

Contact-new.svg Adriana Medina Franco
WikiEducator logo100.jpg
Occupation:English Teacher
Languages:Spanish and English

An EFL educator, trying to be better every day.


BA in ELT and M in Ed

My goal for this semester is to learn as much as possible. To accomplish this goal, I will try to work with the wikieducator. As an EFL educator, my greatest challenge is to support my students' learning. To overcome these challenges, I will try to look for ways to optimize learming. --AMF 03:19, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

My interests

English Language Teaching and Cooperative Learning

Personal goals for this semester

For each of the three sections below, discuss what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them.

related to becoming a better communicator of English

To try to better my English language proficiency.

related to pedagogy

To try to better the way I give classes.

related to how languages are learned

To apply what I previously said into my ELT practice.


To try to spend a nice time.

My wiki projects

Add your information here!

My optional community service (learning contract) project

100px-L4C-small.png  Agreement
By signing this optional learning contract I will try to complete my training in basic wiki editing skills to achieve the status of a Wikibuddy. In return for this free training opportunity, I will give the gift of knowledge by donating or developing at least one free content resource licensed under a CC-BY-SA or CC-BY license which can be used by myself (and others) on WikiEducator.
Brief description of project I will work on a cooperative learning situation related to the coming English Festival.
<November, 2010
AMF 19:13, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
 <--AMF 19:12, 12 August 2010

Feedback and notes from my WikiNeighbours

Add your information here!

  • You are making good progress; when I have seen evidence that you can create bulleted lists and numbered lists, I will be quite happy to certify you as a level one apprentice. --Jrradney 23:58, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Hi there, thanks for applying for a wiki certification. In order for us to do this, please demonstrate the skills that you have learned in the first few tutorials as well. I saw you managed to upload external links, this is great, but keep going and show us the use of bulleted and numbered lists, indents, bold, italic text, different headers etc. Once this is on your page, reapply for us to take a look and we will very happy to certify you. Well done, you definitely on your way to becoming a skills WikiMaster. Warm wishes--Patricia Schlicht 16:36, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

Cooperative Learning Strategies

Shrum, Judith L. and Glisan, Eileen W. (2000). Teacher's Handbook: Contextualized Language Instruction, Second Edition. Thompson, Heinle.

The elementary school teacher uses a repertoire of techniques for actively involving children in learning. Through cooperative learning, in which students interact with one another in pairs and in small groups in order to accomplish a task together, opportunities for using the target language are significantly increased. Research on cooperative learning by Johnson and Johnson (1987) suggest that the benefits of group and pairwork include higher retention and achievement, development of interpersonal skills and responsibility, and heightened self-esteem and creativity. Cooperative learning is most successful when students depend one another, participate in face-to-face interaction, take responsibility for their skills being learned by the group, use appropriate social skills (following directions, asking for help, taking turns), and analyze what is working and not working in the group activity (Johnson & Johnson, 1987).

Kagan (1990) suggests that students assume roles such as the following when participating in a cooperative learning activity:

• Gatekeeper/monitor: makes sure that each person participates and that no one individual dominates the group process.

• Cheerleader/encourager: makes sure that the contributions of each member and the team as a whole are appreciated.

• Taskmaster/supervisor: keeps the group on task and attempts to make sure each member contributes; s/he guides discussion or work.

• Secretary/recorder: records team answers and supporting material; s/he also be the team spokesperson who reports to the whole class.

• Checker/explainer: checks that everyone agrees before a group discussion is made; s/he checks that everyone understands the assignment and what is needed to finish.

• Quiet captain: makes sure the group does not disturb other groups (Curtain & Pesola, 1994, p. 319).


Structuring Cooperative Learning: Strategies for Working Together as a Community of Learners

Adams, Dennis M. & Hamm, Mary E. (1990) Cooperative Learning: Critical Thinking and Collaboration Across the Curriculum. Charles C Thomas Publisher: Springfield, Illinois.

New organizational models can help teachers apply cooperative curriculum constructs in their classrooms. As they organize interactive learning environments children learn to shape questions, interpret data, and make connections between subjects. When small learning groups are formed, under teacher direction, students can learn to take responsibility for their own learning and assist others. This means collaboration instead of competition. It exemplifies an approach where task-oriented work groups combine student initiative with social responsibility. Thus, students with less information can stimulate the students with more-and vice versa. The same thing is true when it comes to teaching thinking process like comprehension, decision making, and problem solving.

Various heterogeneous group structures can help students set personal agendas. They can also provide the structure for the joint application of critical thinking skills-distinguishing hypotheses from verified information and recognizing reasoning based on misconceptions. Cooperative groups invite students to be active players in classroom activities. Topical projects, writing assignments, problem solving or journal reaction papers are examples of activities that require group planning, negotiating and the collaborative distribution of work. Group activities can be brought to closure by forming a panel or round table. As groups try to reach consensus they can create an analysis grid whereby comparisons and contrasts can be made as well as students' speculations about outcomes. Within the tension of discussing different points of view (even heated discussion), learning takes place.

Establishing the classroom conditions for the successful use of cooperative learning means more than having educators decide that it is an appropriate organizational method for enhancing learning. Students must also develop collaborative skills for mixed-ability pairs or groups to work productively. This chapter identifies some guidelines that have proven successful in helping students and teachers develop and structure cooperative learning.

ORGANIZING THE COLLABORATIVE CLASSROOM Cooperative learning will not take place with students sitting in rows facing the teacher. Desks must be pushed together in small groups or replaced with small tables to facilitate group interaction. Resource and hands-on materials must be made readily accessible. Collaboration will not occur in a classroom which requires students to raise their hands to talk or move out of their desks. Responsible behavior needs to be developed and encouraged. Authoritarian approaches to discipline will not work if students are expected to be responsible for their own learning and behavior.

Other changes involve the noise level in the room. Sharing and working together even in controlled environments will be louder than an environment where students work silently from textbooks. Teachers need to tolerate higher noise levels and learn to evaluate whether or not it's constructive.

Evaluating cooperative learning necessitates a variety of procedures. In spite of new evaluative techniques on the horizon, some learning outcome will probably continue to be measured by such instruments as standardized tests, quizzes, and written exams. In addition, cooperative learning demands subjective measures. Students and teachers need to be involved in evaluating learning products, the classroom climate, and individual skill development. This involves such things as self-esteem, discipline, cooperation, values, expression, individual and group achievement.

CHANGES IN THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT Researchers who are concerned with the inequity of learning possibilities fostered by traditional classroom organization suggest that we should reduce the general preoccupation with competition and ability grouping. Cooperative learning would also appear to have a natural role to play in overcoming the suppression of human aspirations that have played such a central role in competitive tracking models. Model schools can help, but major change will require and emphasis on visions and a sizable national experiment. As the United States runs out of workers who are even minimally prepared to do the jobs of the 1990s, the problem of improving the educational system becomes even more urgent. There are important factors schools must consider if this learning model is to be successfully implemented in schools. Changing classroom organizational patterns and teaching strategies requires systematic staff development and the association of like-minded colleagues. It also takes time, practice, and systematic support for the vital energy inherent in new skills to become part of teachers' repertoire.

The traditional system of school and classroom organization is no longer enough. There is general agreement that it will take more than tinkering to get the job done. Major change will require educational vision and greater societal commitments than we have seen to date. The public tends to put its wallet where its values are. Even when values change, it takes time for victimized institutions-like schools-to catch up. And, although it sets a possible tone of concern, fragmentary private or corporate efforts barely dent the problem. Some are even a kind of hit-and-run socio-educational effort with no follow though.

No matter what the collaborative combinations, educators are not on the margins of meaningful and systemic educational change. Encouraging participation in decisions affecting the workplace is a key element in developing new schools. If teachers aren't part of the process, then they will be part of an unsolvable problem. They must be recognized as knowledgeable professionals who are capable of assuming even greater responsibility for how schools and classrooms are organized. Teachers actively involved in learning the most efficient strategies and goal structures need support while implementing new skills.

Change takes resources, time and practice for the vital energy inherent in new skills to become part of a teacher’s repertoire. Management studies suggest that the best way to improve job satisfaction, a major cause of teacher attrition, is to attain a high group performance. In-service workshops can help provide assistance as teachers try activities and share experiences. But, in the final analysis, they need to give and receive feedback from colleagues within a structure that supports collaboration. Changes in the organization of learning require an environment where it is safe to make mistakes and where it is safe to learn from those mistakes. Social interaction, creativity, inventiveness, discovery and critical thinking are crucial ingredients that must be applied to the collaborative learning process. Like any other proven method, cooperative learning is only as good as the ability of its practitioners to model the behavior. For the teacher, the best way to deal with team spirit in the classroom is to join in.

AIDS TO COLLABORATIVE LEARNING Research suggests that: • Collaboration works best when students are given real problems to solve.

• A collaborative environment grows slowly nurtured by teachers who consider everyone a resource.

• Learning to think as a team that "sinks or swims" together can help many students learn more.

• A collaborative environment works best if it allows risks and mistakes.

• Collaborative learning allows practice in solving problems.

• Individuals learn best when they are held individually responsible for group subtasks.

• The less academically talented develop better learning attitudes when they work directly with "successful" students.

• Roles often change; students as tutor or teacher-and teacher as learner.

SUGGESTIONS FOR SMALL GROUP COLLABORATION • Adjust the group size to suit the activity. Groups of 3 or 4 work well for many activities like mathematics problem solving. Groups of 5 or 7 work better for activities that require larger group participation or more complicated (creative dramatics, larger social studies projects, certain writing projects, etc.)

• Accept a higher working noise level in the classroom.

• Do not interrupt the group that is working well. If a group seems to be floundering, ask a student to describe what the group is discussing or what part of the problem is causing difficulty. Try not to speak loudly to a group across the room. Go to them if you want to say something.

• Experiment with different group patterns and size.

• Try interacting with the groups from time to time. Listen to their discussions.

• Give students rules for group work. Some suggestions:

o Individuals must check with other members of the group before they may raise their hands to ask the teacher for help. Help can then be given to the group collectively.

o Try to reach a group´consensus on a problem.

o All students should participate.

o Be considerate to others.

o Students are to help any group member who asks.

• Promote involvement by all students.

o Select a group leader to be responsible for the group's work.

o Identify a recorder to write group's responses.

o Encourage students who do not appear to be actively participating.

COOPERATIVE LEARNING: CIVIC VIRTUE AND LEARNING COMMUNITIES Collective geniuous has reigned supreme in fields as diverse as the physical and social sciences for the last fifty years-from the development of the atomic bomb, to macro economic theory, to cognitive stages of human development. However, connecting positive social values to accomplishments is like confusing virtue with talent. It takes more than academic skills to be a good citizen. Beyond the discussion of academic achievement, economic competitiveness and technology lay concerns with personal freedom and a sense of being part of a social unit.

Developing a sense of connectedness and feelings of common membership in a civic community has always been a function of American education. Our schools are receiving a growing number of students from countries with no democratic tradition of concern for the common good, public service, or active participation in governance. Other students are stuck in an underclass and groping for equity. Educators are searching for ways to help this growing number of non-traditional pupils create and expand civic sensibilities.

Cooperative learning may be able to help us on several social and academic fronts. Numerous studies have shown significant student gains on measures of achievement, measures of social relationships, self-esteem, and cross-cultural relationships. These well-documented benefits are causing educators to reexamine their assumptions about classroom grouping. Organizing environments for learning that allow students to explore and connect the links between civics and cooperative groups helps prepare the young for citizenship.

The ways we choose to spend our teaching/learning time conveys implicit messages to students about what is valued and important. If most of the time is spent listening to the teacher or working on isolated paper-and-pencil tasks, the underlying concept conveyed is that learning means mastering a narrow range of skills that are found mainly in textbooks or on practice sheets. Important educational matters are-and have always been-much broader; more an attitude toward learning and the world than a set of sub skills.

COOPERATIVE LEARNING SKILLS It often takes several attempts with cooperative learning techniques to get groups working effectively. Like teachers, students must be gradually eased into the process through a consistent routine. The more teachers and students work in groups, the easier it becomes. Some students may encounter initial problems because they are accustomed to being rewarded for easy-to-come-by answers that require little thinking. It may take some time and teacher assistance for them to become comfortable working cooperatively with more ambiguity.

Shared Responsibility and Group Roles Collaborative group structures involve shared responsibilities. This means that a variety of tasks must be performed by group members. Each member of the group assumes the charge of making sure that group members work toward a group goal or objective. When students are new to cooperative learning and during some initial experiences, teachers may wish to assign certain roles to group participants. Some of the most fequent group tasks include:

1. Facilitator

• o organizes the group's work o makes certain students understand the group's job o takes the group's questions and concerns to the teacher after the group attempts a solution and tries alternatives.

2. Checker

• o checks with group members to make sure that everyone understands their task o checks to be sure that everyone agrees with the group response and can explain it.

3. Reader

• o reads the problem or directions to the group.

4. Recorder

• o writes the group's response or data collection on a group response sheet or log.

5. Encourager

• o offers support and encouragement to group members. Keeps others feeling good about working together.

All students assume responsibility for promoting and maintaining positive attitudes and positive group spirit. This doesn't mean using the "team spirit" to suppress dissent or intimidate individuals. All of these responsibilities involve specific skills and behaviors: 1. Clarifying and elaborating-interpreting information or building on information from another group member. 2. Providing information or giving opinions-sharing relevant knowledge and ideas with the group. 3. Seeking facts, data, or opinions from group members-searching out and requesting relevant information. 4. Summarizing-recapitulating and pulling together the group's shared knowledge and information. 5. Guiding and managing-establishing a process which helps the group achieve its foal or learning objective.

Organizing a group plan of action is an important part of shared responsibility and shared leadership. Learning how to search out, share and receive information to continue progress on a group task are important skills in working collaboratively. Students also need to learn how to summarize and clarify that information so as to move the group in the direction of completing their task or goal. Sometimes it may be necessary to test the consensus of a group-how many members agree that a particular direction is advisable or that a particular conclusion is accurate. Other task behaviors include: • getting the group started • staying on task • getting the group back to work • taking turns • asking questions • following directions • staying in the group space • keeping track of time • helping without giving the answer

Group Support Systems In addition to helping the group reach its goal and the get the job done, a group member also has the responsibility to show support and empathy for the group members and their feelings. It is important to reflect on the group process and the feelings group members express. This assures that individual group members have opportunities to express ideas and opinions. When group interaction becomes tense, a release of that tension is needed; perhaps a funny joke will ease members' frustrations. Harmony can be achieved when a group member acknowledges that another group member is upset. Support or maintenance behaviors include the skills of: 1. Compromising-coming to an agreement by meeting halfway, "giving in" to other group members when necessary. 2. Empathizing and encouraging-showing understanding and helping others feel a part of the group. 3. Gate keeping-giving everyone a chance to speak in the group, checking to see that no one is overlooked. 4. Liberating tension-creating harmony in the group. 5. Expressing group feelings-helping the group to examine how it is feeling and operating.

Other support or maintenance behaviors include: • using names • encouraging others to talk • responding to ideas • using eye contact • showing appreciation • disagreeing in a pleasant way • crititicizing an idea, not a person • keeping things cool • paraphrasing

It is helpful for groups to evaluate the effectiveness of each group meeting as soon as it is over. This provides feedback and insights into the collaborative process. As the group members learn to focus energy on the learning task, they also learn to identify with the group process-helping members grow and develop. Compromising, creating harmony, sharing and encouraging are learned behaviors. They take time, coaching, and commitment. When group responsibility and support behaviors are in balance, group members can work collaboratively to achieve important group objectives.

Suggestions for Group Evaluation and Processing 1. How did your group get started on its task?

2. Did your group do something different from other groups?

3. Did your group approach the problem or task effectively?

4. How did your group reach agreement on your answer?

5. Are you satisfied with the way your group recorded the information?

6. How did working in a group help you?

7. What helped your group stick to its task?

8. How did you feel working in this group?

9. How did you offer support to other members of the group?

10. How did your group share information and ideas?

11. Which social skill will your group use more for the next time?

12. Did your group accomplish its tasks? What did you learn?

Individualized, Competitive, and Cooperative Learning Methods The team learning structure plays and important role in the group's ability to interact effectively. The most structures in use are: individualized learning, competitive learning, and, increasingly, cooperative leaning. Teachers are starting to reorder the priorities as they learn to place more emphasis on active group work.

Individualized Learning In individualized learning structures, such student works at his own pace and expects to be left alone by other students. The individual takes a major part of the responsibility for completing the task, evaluating his progress toward task completion and the quality of his effort. The goal or task objective is perceived as important for each student, and each student expects to achieve the goal. Types of instructional activities center on specific skill and knowledge acquisition. The assignment is clearly designed and behavior is specified to avoid confusion and the need for extra help. The teacher is the major source of assistance support and reinforcement.

Competitive Learning When competitive goal structures exist, the goal is not perceived to be of large importance to the students and they can accept either winning or losing. Each student expects to have an equal chance to enjoy the activity (win or lose). Students monitor the progress of their competitors and compare ability, skills and knowledge with peers. Instructional activities tend to focus on skill practice, knowledge recall, and review. The assignment is clear with rules for competing specified. The teacher is the major resource and often directs the competitive activity.

Cooperative Learning In a cooperative learning situation the goal is perceived as important for each student and students expect the group to achieve the goal. Each student expects positive interaction with other students, sharing of ideas, and material. Each group member is responsible for a particular task and accountable for her own knowledge or her own area of contribution to the group. All group members are expected to contribute to the group effort, dividing the tasks among them to capitalize on the diversity. Students receive support for risk taking, and all are expected to make contributions to the group effort. Other students are perceived to be the major source for assistance, support, and reinforcement.

Solving Problems and Resolving Conflict The ability to solve problems and smoothly resolve conflict in the group are important tasks of cooperation and collaboration. When conflict arises, group members often take unyielding stances and refuse to consider other points of view. Groups members need strategies for negotiating and problem solving to successfully defuse conflict and create harmony. Some conflict strategies include: 1. Withdrawal-the individual withdraws from interaction, recognizing that the goal and the interaction are not important enough to be in conflict over.

2. Forcing-the task is more important than the relationship; members use all their energy to get the task done.

3. Smoothing-the relationship is more important than the task. Individuals want to be liked and accepted.

4. Compromising-the task and the relationship are both important, but there is a lack of time. Both members gain something and lose something.

5. Confrontation-task and relationship are equally important; the conflict is defined as a problem-solving situation.

Problem solving is a useful group strategy to assist in conflict resolution. This systemic five-step process of constructively addressing conflicts includes: 1. Defining the problem and its causes.

2. Generating alternative solutions to the problem.

3. Examining advantages and disadvantages to each alternative.

4. Deciding upon and implementing the most desirable solution.

5. Evaluating whether the solutions solve the problem.

Group members must define exactly what the problem is. On occasion, this can be difficult, but it is worth the effort. Once the problem is defined, group members can then suggest alternative solutions for the problem and explore the consequences of each of those alternatives. The group members then make a decision to try an alternative and to review the results within a stipulated period of time. It's important to teach confrontation skills and techniques for successful resolution. Some of these include: 1. Describe behavior; do not evaluate, label, accuse or insult.

2. Define the conflict as a mutual problem, not a win-lose situation.

3. Use "I" statements.

4. Communicate what you think and feel.

5. Be critical of ideas, not of people; affirm other's competence.

6. Give everyone chance to be heard.

7. Follow the guidelines for rational argument.

8. Make sure there is enough time for discussion.

9. Take the other person's perspective.

Negotiating is also a learning part of problem resolution. It involves mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of an agreement. The process of learning to "read" another's behavior for clues as to a problem solution is crucial in being able to guess what sill appeal to another person and how to make a deal in which each participant's preferences or needs are considered. Complementing the task and support behaviors are such communication skills as active listening. This means both attending to and responding to group and individual efforts. Active listening allows all group members to be fully in tune with each other. Acknowledging the content, feelings, or meaning of what another person is communicating lends itself to goodwill and understanding. Gate keeping (giving everyone a chance to express their ideas) assures that all members of the group participate and are secure in the knowledge that they are contributing to the group.

COOPERATIVE LEARNING APPROACHES Programs can vary in terms of both task structures and reward contingencies. Four different cooperative learning methods have been extensively developed and researched. The Teams-Games-Tournaments (TGT) and the Student Teams and Achievement Divisions (STAD) are two general methods adaptable to most subject matter and grade levels. Team Assisted Instruction (TAI) and Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) are designed for specific curricula and grade levels. All methods incorporate concepts of individual accountability, team rewards and equal opportunities for success, but approaches differ.

In the STAD and TGT approaches new material is first presented by the teacher to the whole class. Following this initial presentation, pupils are organized into mixed-ability learning teams. Students work within their teams to ensure that all members have mastered the lesson objectives. In STAD approach students take individual quizzes on the material, whereas in the TGT method group members are asked questions orally in tournaments with other teams. This team competition involves three tournament tables where students of similar abilities from different teams accumulate points for their team. In both cases, scores are kept for both individuals and teams or groups.

Other cooperative methods include the Jigsaw approach, where a different portion of the learning task is competed by each group member. This entails mutual cooperation. For example, pupils within one group might be required to read a certain text, with each group member assigned a particular portion of that text. Each pupil becomes an "expert" for that certain section, although all pupils must pass a test on the entire passage. Often, the "experts" from different groups meet to discuss material before returning to their home groups to present and discuss their assigned material. Positive effects on both achievements, particularly for minority children, and cross ethnic friendships have resulted. The research on the effects of cooperative learning also suggest:

• Positive effects on academic achievement measures:

o improved performance on vocabulary tests

o higher achievement scores on tests, mathematic computation and problem solving.

• Improvement on interpersonal measures:

o mutual concerns

o frienships between pupils of different races and ability levels.

• Improved attitudes:

o toward school

o students' perceptions of peer support for their own performance and self-esteem.

A Vision of the Future There is ample evidence, from management and educational studies, to support the implementation of cooperative groups structures in the classroom. Still, the hierarchical model that some schools follow does not provide for cooperative teacher planning or for collaborative student activities. School districts are slow to pick up on the notion that greater productivity can occur when professional "team spirit"-and collaborative feeling of self-worth-is actively encouraged. With current school practices being judged as inadequate, companies are moving to do their own training in social and basic skills. Corporate success in late twentieth century is coming to be equated with getting well educated workers and giving them a sense of collective responsibility. Like its European and Japanese Competitors, American companies are shedding top-down management styles for participatory work teams-with elements of decision making driven down to the lowest employee levels. It is well to keep in mind that there is a difference between corporations and schools. There are many elements of schooling that go well beyond producing skilled workers. The schools do not-or at least should not- operate in a social vacuum. If the emphasis on cooperative groups works well for industry, elements of this type of organization can also become a more effective form of school and classroom structure for accelerating student achievement.

The responsibility for achieving excellence and opportunity in education will require new forms of collaboration by many institutional sectors of society. All will have to accommodate diverse cultural and learning styles. Major responsibilities in the future will be shared by schools, students, families, corporations, and governmental agencies. Support from all directions will be necessary if new organizational models in education are to avoid being wiped out in the name of "fiscal responsibility." We would all do well to remember that investing in a future rich with promise for our nation and our children represents the most responsible use of limited funds. We would do well to remember that global competition has left behind regions that have relied on a relatively unskilled, undereducated workforce. Many have found to their chagrin a major difference between short-term economic growth and long-term economic development. Development requires a strong educational base and a log-term commitment.

It's out of a crisis much like the educational one we are facing today that positive change often comes. Being concerned with education also means being concerned with preparing the ground for that is to come, even if we don't fully understand the possibilities. In joking about optimism in preparing for an uncertain future, Theodore Sorensen tells the story of a newcomer to Washington taking a taxi from the airport to downtown. On the way the tourist sees an engraving on a government building: The Past Is Prologue. When he asks the driver what it means, the taxi driver profoundly replies "it means you ain't seen nothing yet."

My project