Cooperative Learning

What is cooperative learning and why does it totally rule? 


Cooperative learning is a method used in 21st century classrooms where the students learn from one another versus learning from the teacher. Of course the teacher provides input, but the students learn together through trial and error and through direction and feedback from the teacher. This type of learning is powerful because the students build stronger synapses in their brains by reflecting on their first attempts or ideas and reevaluating them to strengthen their knowledge. 

This totally makes sense to me. Think about the days of a primary child when you were taught complicated hand-jives by your peer. You didn't master the hand-jive together on your first attempt. It took the language of your childhood friend, their feedback, and the many attempts of practing perfection before you would even think about showing your skills to an adult. 

The same holds true in the classroom. Students want to interact with one another and show off to their teachers and parents. Research shows that students who learn through cooperative classroom environments retain more conceptual knowledge than students who do not. 

I can personally say that teaching in a cooperative learning environment has been 100% positive in my classroom. I always try to add some sort of cooperative inquiry into each subject and each lesson. My students have learned to listen to one another and how to speak gently to one another. They take others' thoughts and feelings into consideration and this has helped build a positive classroom community. I say, let's forget teaching to the test, and let's let our kids fall in love with school again! 

-Sarah