Monday, April 10, 2017

Cooperative Groups: INTERDEPENDENCE - 4/10/17

Cooperative Groups: INTERDEPENDENCE

How successful are your cooperative groups? Do you struggle with some students doing all of the work while others sit back? Well, Dr. Spencer Kagan has devoted years of research and development to Cooperative Learning structures. Throughout his studies, he identified four basic principles symbolized by the acronym PIES. (Positive Interdependence, Individual Accountability, Equal Participation, Simultaneous Interaction). Each principle has critical questions that help you determine if that structure is in place, in order to MAXIMIZE ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT within your classroom.

For a group to function, positive interdependence must be in place. Think about these two questions:

  1. Does the success of one benefit others? (positive)
  2. Is everyone’s contribution necessary? (interdependence)

Students must feel a sense of TEAM as they encourage and help each other within the group. This is important to continually build within your classroom culture. However, interdependence goes a step further and makes the contribution of one necessary for the success of another, so students need each other to do well. When planning, it is important that we place students in situations in which they cannot reach their goal without the contributions of others; the contribution of one is necessary for the success of the other.


Creating a team culture in your classroom, as well as selecting good cooperative structures, can make a huge difference in classroom management and the success of your scholars. When goal setting for next year, you might consider learning more about collaborative structures as a goal.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Blindspots 4/3/17

Blindspots

There are blindspots that we do not recognize about ourselves as people and as teachers. One blind spot might be that we focus more on our teaching than on the learning that happens in our classes. It is imperative that we use quick formative assessments to determine if we are meeting the needs of our scholars. Let the students' needs guide your instruction.

It is also important to examine our classroom through more than one lens. As a teacher, you come to school ready to tackle the content that must be covered so you do not fall behind. One day recently, Heather Hagar told me how her students came to school one morning very talkative. As she listened while the students began their breakfast and put up their backpacks, she realized that they were worried about going to middle school. (The night before all incoming 6th graders & their parents visited GMS.) Taking care of her students' social and emotional needs prior to the curriculum made for a much more productive day for her scholars. Sometimes we are in our routine but maybe not really reflecting on how students are seeing what's happening in our classes through their eyes. We should ask ourselves, "Would I want to be a student in my own classroom?"


Consider using this topic during circle up time to determine how learning is going in your classroom and really listen to help maximize growth.