Forum: Teachers Lab

Topic: Skills needed for cooperative learning

Topic Posted by: Bon Tsi (sunny@sohu.com )
Organization: ch
Date Posted: Mon May 22 14:40:27 2006
Topic Description: Forming Skills: The basic skills needed for a functioning cooperative learning group. Functioning Skills: The skills needed to manage the group¡¯s activities to complete a task and to maintain effective working relationships among members. Formulating Skills: The skills needed to understand the material being studied at a deeper level, to stimulate the use of higher quality reasoning strategies, and to maximize mastery and retention. Fermenting Skills: The skills needed to rethink the material being studied , cognitive conflict, search for more information, and communicate the rationale behind one¡¯s conclusions. Forming skills help organize the group and establish minimum norms for appropriate behaviors. The most important behaviors of this category are: noise monitor, participation monitor, voice monitor, and turn-taking monitor. The noise monitor ensures that classmates move into cooperative learning quietly. The participation monitor ensures that group members stay in the group and participate in the group¡¯s work. Voice monitor is needed to remind group members to use quiet voices. The turn-taking monitor ensures that each student has a part in the group effort and assignment. Functioning skills help the group manage their efforts and maintain working relationships. To accomplish these skills, students need to share ideas and opinions, ask for facts and reasoning which will ease their interaction and thus their understanding of each other¡¯s work, give direction to the group work to help the group move ahead (¡°We are supposed to¡­¡± or ¡°Why don¡¯t we try this in the time we have left?¡±), encourage everyone to participate (¡°Michelle, what is your opinion about this?¡±), ask for help or clarification (¡°I don¡¯t think I understand. Can you explain again what you mean?¡±), express support and acceptance, offer to explain and clarify (¡°Would you like me to explain this again?¡±), paraphrase (¡°So you are saying that¡­¡±), and energize the group (¡°Come on, let¡¯s get things moving!¡±). Formulating skills maximize students¡¯ learning. They stimulate the use of higher reasoning strategies and enhance mastery and retention. Some of these skills are: summarize out loud from memory, seek accuracy by correcting a member¡¯s summary (¡°I am not sure this is correct.. We should check¡­¡±), seek elaboration by relating the material being learned to earlier learned material and to previous knowledge (¡°How does this relate to¡­¡±), help the group remember (¡°We should use colors for this table¡­¡±), check for understanding by demanding verbalization, and ask the others to plan out loud (¡°Here is how I would teach this material¡­¡±). Fermenting skills are those involved in academic controversies such as: criticizing ideas without criticizing people (¡°I respect you, but in this case I have to disagree with your thinking.¡±), differentiating between ideas and reasoning of group members (¡°How do our information and conclusions differ?¡±), integrating ideas into single positions (¡°Would this combine everyone¡¯s ideas into a single conclusion?¡±), asking for justification (¡°Can you explain your answer?¡±), extending answers (¡°I have something else I know about this and I want to share with you¡­¡±), probing by asking in-depth questions (¡°Would it work in a different situations?¡±), and generating further answers (¡°Can we consider another possibility?¡±).

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