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What children can do together today, they can do alone tomorrow.~ Lev Vygotsky, 1962
Cooperative Learning Activities are difficult to implement, but can create authentic, deep, brain friendly learning. I chose to research cooperative learning because my school district has recently emphasized student engagement, and I think that cooperative learning can be one of the keys to maximizing engagement. However, as I have tried to incorporate more cooperative learning activities into my classroom, I found it difficult to implement and manage them. This Wiki will attempt to direct you to resources that answer the following questions:
- Does cooperative learning increase student learning and engagement (is it beneficial)?
- How do you plan and implement successful cooperative learning activities that benefit all members?

I hope that our students will find working together as beneficial as these penguins do :)

The Five Most Important Things I Learned While Creating This Wiki:

1. Cooperative learning is brain friendly and does increase student learning. (Check out one example of how cooperative learning has improved test scores
http://www.kaganonline.com/free_articles/research_and_rationale/329/Test-Scores-Show-Kagan-Structures-Work-At-Long-Hill-Elementary-School)
2. Cooperative learning activities with heterogeneous groupings can go a long way towards closing the achievement gap. (Check out the data in this article
http://www.kaganonline.com/free_articles/research_and_rationale/307/Closing-the-Achievement-Gap)
3. You must structure for success when it comes to cooperative learning. There has to be the essential elements present: positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction.
http://www.kaganonline.com/free_articles/dr_spencer_kagan/259/Cooperative-Learning-Seventeen-Pros-and-Seventeen-Cons-Plus-Ten-Tips-for-Success
4. Cooperative learning activities can be used to teach content and social skills at the same time, producing well rounded, employable students.
5. Cooperative learning is a source of contention for many students and parents. We must consider classroom management, grading, groupings, and learning styles when organizing cooperative learning activities.


If you can only view one element of my Wiki page, go to Laura Candler Online. Her website has tons of free printables that you can use when implementing Cooperative Learning Activities and beyond.


Catalog of Resources

There is a wealth of information available on the topic of cooperative learning. Here are some of the resources that I found interesting and, more than that, applicable in developing my lesson plans and daily routines.

Does 'Group Work' Work?: Is It the Best Way for Children to Learn?

This YouTube Video shows a panel discussion from a television program called "Your Voice" about the pitfalls and benefits of group work. It discusses common frustrations that students, parents, and teachers experience during group work as well as strategies to make cooperative learning effective. While the video is a little dry, it covers the basics of group work implementation and provides commentary from experts in education. I give it a 4 out of 5 because the content is great and delivers a wonderful overview of the topic, but it is long.

Cooperative Learning (Website)

http://edtech.kennesaw.edu/intech/cooperativelearning.htm

This website includes some justification for implementing cooperative learning activities, an overview of the elements of successful activities, and a list of structures that you can implement in the classroom, regardless of the content being covered. The practical, ready to use, cooperative learning structures are what I find most valuable. The author of the site,who is not listed, takes his ideas from Spencer Kagan's book, Cooperative Learning, and the website based on his ideas, KaganOnline, which is listed later on this wiki. I give this site a 4 out of 5 because it is concise and give ready to use ideas. It is not new information and is a summary of some of the activities in the Kagan book.

Kagan Online

http://www.kaganonline.com/index.php

This is the home page for the Kagan enterprises and is designed to sell educational materials and training seminars that focus on cooperative learning. There are some free elements on the site that are helpful. There is a link to their free online magazine that provides scholarly articles that focus on the benefits of cooperative learning and teach some cooperative learning structures in detail. It also provides information on how to incorporate cooperative learning with respect to the multiple intelligences. The online magazine's articles often address cooperative learning in light of current trends in education, which I find very interesting. There is a discussion board where educators can post questions about implementation, product reviews, and most anything related to cooperative learning. On top of all of that, there is "Kagan's Articles" section with a great deal of rational and research supporting the use cooperative learning in the classroom. I give this site a 4 out of 5 because it is full of useful information, but it is a site created to sell a product and really plays up the materials and trainings that they offer.

Cooperative Learning PowerPoint

This PowerPoint presentation contains tons of valuable information on the essential elements of cooperative learning. It is well organized, easy to read, and ready to share with other educators. I give it a 4 out of 5.

Laura Candler Online

http://www.lauracandler.com/strategies/co-op.php
This website is dedicated to cooperative learning. It includes links for classroom management, teaching social skills, and creating a classroom environment in which cooperation is encouraged. It is written in a quick, easy to read, format. It is also great because it has all sorts of free printables that can be used to implement and evaluate your cooperative learning activities. Because of its ease and practicality, I give it a 5 out of 5.

Think-Pair-Share

The following YouTube video teaches the steps to a very simple,but effective cooperative learning activity. It ensures that at least 50% of the class is actively participating at any given moment. I give the resource a 4 out of 5 because it is simple and easy to follow.

Numbered Heads Together

The following YouTube video give the steps to a neat cooperative learning activity that is great for discussion or reviews. I like this activity a lot and there is software available at KaganOnline that makes it feel more like a game show and walks the students through each step. I give this resource a 4 out of 5.

Kagan Cooperative Learning (Book)

This book gives so much great information about cooperative learning. From justification and brain research, to planing and implementation, this can be considered the bible of cooperative learning. I personally have a copy and use it all of the time. I give it a 5 out of 5.
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