Journey to Excellence


Parents, students, and teachers worry about all students in groups receiving the same grade. Teachers must follow cooperative learning experiences with individual accountability in the form of quizzes and tests over content and reports or journal evaluations of the cooperation. In other words, teachers need to address issues of "hitchhikers" and "chauffeurs." "Hitchhikers" do minimal work within the group; "chauffeurs" take over and do all the work.

In order to help prevent some of these pitfalls, teachers need to select the students for groups, assign roles, and coach procedures. When forming groups, teachers need to construct heterogeneous groups, i.e. mixed by ability, grades, race, talent, and socio-economic status. Teachers need to arrange classroom furniture to facilitate collaboration by clustering desks or appropriately sized tables. Students need clear instructions and rituals when moving from whole class to cooperative groups.

Designating roles within the groups speeds getting the work started and completed. Suggested roles include leader, reader, writer, organizer, materials manager, and encourager. Roles need to rotate so that all students learn the various skills included in leadership. Students also need to be instructed in the mechanics of the procedure when introducing a new cooperative learning strategy. When students begin to work in groups, the teacher moves from group to group encouraging, facilitating, coaching, and maintaining order.

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