Cooperative Learning Jar: Challenging Your Everyday Practice

The Situation

You are finding that you’re lecturing rather than facilitating in the classroom.

The Solution

At times it is easy to fall into the habit of lecturing to our students, especially if we are strapped for time in designing innovative lessons.

For this reason, you need to have a constant reminder to keep yourself in check.

Below is an example of a cooperative learning jar. The purpose of the jar is to contain a range of different strategies that you can practise and utilise in your classroom. Having variety keeps your teaching fresh and your students engaged.

With some index cards, record a cooperative learning activity with instructions on each card.

Fold the card up and place it in the jar. Do so until you have filled as much of that jar that is practically possible (you’ll need to be able to pull a card at random).

Place the jar on your office desk. At the start of each morning, pull an index card from the jar. Reflect on the lessons you will teach today and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How can you modify the lesson so that you’re using this technique?
  • Whereabouts in the lesson will you use the strategy?
  • What instructions and management do you need to provide?
  • How can I build safety in this activity?
  • How will I ensure that students know what to do?

Once you have used the strategy you can place it back in the jar or remove it entirely if it becomes part of your usual teacher toolkit. The aim is to challenge yourself and continue and internal dialogue about improving your instruction in the classroom.

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