Unleash the Power of Cooperative Learning

power toolIf you’re a fan of television sitcoms, you might recall the show “Home Improvement.” The lead character, Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, had a penchant seeking out bigger, faster, and stronger tools. His catchphrase was, “More power!” Most of his attempts to upgrade his tools were successful . . . at least a short period of time until they blew up!

Your classroom practices can experience the exhilaration of “more power.” In the article Making Cooperative Learning Powerful, author Robert Slavin identifies five strategies that can help bring “more power” to your classroom:

  1. Form independent teams: Slavin recommends four member teams. Build a team that represents a cross section of the class.
  2. Set group goals: Provide a clear team target, so that students know where to focus their efforts.
  3. Ensure individual accountability: Require all members to master the targeted content or skill.
  4. Teach communication and problem-solving skills: Provide explicit directions regarding active listening, explaining ideas and opinions, and offering dissent.
  5. Integrate cooperative learning with other structures: Cooperative learning is an integrated part of the instructional and content whole. Use it where it will make the most impact.

As you prepare for your classes next week, think about opportunities that might lend themselves to cooperative learning. Apply Slavin’s strategies in your learning design, so that you and your students can benefit from “More power!”

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