Cooperative learning is one of the best memory activities
Cooperative learning is one of the best memory activities for improving the memory of school aged children. Allowing students to talk about the learning can help with memory problems in children.
The one who is doing the most talking in your classroom is probably the one who is doing the most learning.
The moment I heard that, it changed everything for me and for my students. I began to rethink everything I had ever done in my classroom, threw out the desks and rows, and started over. It is the best decision I ever made for both me and my students.
Once again, it's about language. Talking is what takes learning from short term memory into long term memory, and this is important if you want to help your students hang on to what they have learned beyond the test on Friday. Once I switched to cooperative learning in my classroom, I noticed that when my children came back from winter holiday that they actually remembered what we had done beforehand! It was amazing!
Their vocabulary scores on the standardized test at the end of the year said it all - Allowing my students to work together in groups improved not only their vocabulary but memory and learning as well.
How to Get Your Kids Started Working in Groups
Centers are the best model for cooperative learning. You can set them up in different areas of the room, and this gives you the opportunity to work with small groups of children while the others are doing high-quality activities. A listening center, computer center, and an art center are very good choices.
They aren't just for primary classrooms, either. Elementary and middle grades
with high interest, quality
math center activities
give kids a chance to work together and also give teachers the opportunity to work with small groups of students.
Kindergarten classroom arranged for centers
Another approach is to allow students to work on classwork assignments in groups. In my class we call them "Support Groups," and three students work together. The key is to assign jobs to each member of the group.
Here are the jobs assigned to the members of our Support Groups:
- Group Leader - responsible for keeping group members on task and focused
- Stenographer - responsible for doing the writing for the group during certain activities
- Materials Manager - responsible for getting/returning materials such as rulers, markers, etc.
Most students who have come to me have not had very much experience working together so I have to teach them how to do so appropriately. It takes work and constant supervision at first, but the rewards make it all worth it. One important rule which will make things much easier is that though group members may and are expected to talk with each another, they are not permitted to communicate with those outside their support group!
Once you make this clear through redirection and guidance, students appreciate the opportunity to work together. Often they understand the language of another student better than they understand mine and often learn more from each other than they could ever learn from me.
There have been groups who simply could not handle working in groups of three, and for those groups we worked with partners. It worked out well, and I used the concept of "numbered heads" from
Learning Focused Strategies.
In either case, if students are working together, the trick is to get them to stay on topic and talk about what they are doing. In the right column you will find some of the ways I have learned to motivate kids to do that.
may be used additionally at intervals throughout the year in order to reinforce Common Core standards and promote critical thinking.
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Back to Memory from Cooperative Learning