After reading the chapter in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works book I discovered some great examples to use in my science classroom when it comes to grouping, but also found many ways in which, “Cooperative Learning” shares common themes with the social learning theory (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).
Dr. Orey discusses the strategy called “Jigsaw” where students are randomly grouped for a cooperative learning experience (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). In the chapter on cooperative learning one of the generalizations states, “Organizing groups based on ability levels should be done sparingly” and with the strategy of jigsaw this helps alleviate the ability grouping each time (Pitler et al., 2007). Another generalization states, “Cooperative learning groups should be rather small in size,” this is important to the social learning theory because with this theory the students each need to have a say and feel like they are involved with creating the artifact (Pitler et al., 2007). When groups get too big there are more opportunities for students’ voices to get lost and students lose the benefit of working with others. One way in which I use cooperative learning and also tap into the social learning theory is with expert groups in my classroom. We have four kids in each of our six table groups. I call each of the number ones back separately, all the number twos, all the number threes and finally all the number fours. Each number gets taught by me about a certain subject. In this unit I am doing right now it is ecosystems. My number ones come back and learn about pond ecosystems, number twos about river ecosystems, number threes about the steppe ecosystem and number fours become an expert on the Blue Mountain ecosystem. These students then go back and teach the rest of their group members. Finally, as a class we all come together and I randomly pick students to give me an answer that will fill in the table I have up on the wall. I can call on any student and they get points for a right answer to fill in the table so this makes it so everyone at the table is held accountable. This strategy is very useful because all my students are ELL and they really need that practice to just use the English language. It is also beneficial for the students because they get to interact with each other and they can ask their “expert” if they have questions on the topic.In order to really take these expert groups and turn them into a real cooperative learning experience I could create a rubric for the students to grade themselves at the end of the unit. The rubric, like it states in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, would have to include how the students felt they worked as a team (Pitler et al., 2007). This would rubric would really help keep the students focused on how they were being graded, what was expected of them and how to be a successful member of a team, a very important 21st century skill.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.