Lee Garrett

A teaching and learning journey through PE

Silent Card Shuffle – Cooperative Learning


This post follows on from the Jigsaw structure in Personal Survival.

The Learning Objective was to design and create a scenario within Personal Survival using skills developed from the previous week. We talked about how Personal Survival was relevant in real life and discussed some of the practical situations the skills could represent. E.g. A surface dive represents swimming under an obstacle and out to safety on a sinking ferry.

After the warm, groups of 4 collected some cards. There were 9 cards. You could add some cards which would be deemed red herrings.

The cards were: surface dive, feet first dive, entry into water, climb out of pool, tread water, H.E.L.P, 5m underwater swim, floating star position, 50m swim.

Task 1)
In groups of 4 without talking shuffle the cards to make a sequence of 7 cards with 2 cards being omitted. Absolutely no talking. You can rearrange as necessary.

Task 2)
As a group, discuss and collaborate on a sequence of events. At this point it was strongly recommended to ask each other questions why group members put certain skills in a particular order. The start of questioning.

Task 3)
Once the groups were happy with their sequence of events, one group member was asked to remain seated with their scenario. Their job was to justify and defend their sequential order.

Meanwhile the other group members went around to analyse other group’s sequences and ask questions on the inclusion and ordering of skills. E.g. Why did you put a surface dive followed by the H.E.L.P position? and what was the thinking behind the inclusion of a floating star position?

At this point, the dialogue was exactly what I was after. Good interaction, good use of questioning for their understanding and the use of thinking skills. One problem which I came across, those that were shy would walk around the groups and hide behind those that were comfortable with asking questions. The other thing I noticed was that students would be content with asking the same questions. In future, I would add that students would only be allowed to ask the same question twice.

Nevertheless, in the space of 5-10 minutes, they were using their thinking skills, creativity, social skills, and questioning techniques.

It doesn’t end there.

Once students made their way around everyone it was time to go back to their own scenario and debrief their findings as a group. This was their last chance to make any rearrangements before entering the water to test out their sequence.

The remainder of the lesson was spent performing their own and others scenario and giving feedback.

This was the first time I tried the silent card shuffle and its certainly one that I will be using more often. Again one of my colleagues was teaching gymnastics at the same time also using the technique and had similar positive effects.

Final Thoughts

* This technique is highly effective with tasks involving sequencing and classifying.
* Some coaching on questioning might be useful.
* Creates a good classroom environment when students are moving around asking questions.
* Some of the quieter students may need to be encouraged as there is potential to hide.
* There is an element of critiquing on each others sequence. Therefore the 3 rules of Be Kind, Be Specific, Be Helpful can be applicable.
* Reinforce the need to rephrase questions or ask questions based on what is observed and not to repeat questions for the sake of it.


3 thoughts on “Silent Card Shuffle – Cooperative Learning

  1. Hi Lee thanks again for sharing your use of Cooperative Learning. Shuffle cards sounds great for promoting cognitive and social learning and something I havent seen or used before so thank you for sharing this.

    It is interesting how they were shy when they went to other groups and they hid behind other members. I have found this before and even within students own team they hide behind the dominate members. The research, and from my experience, suggests that this relates to positive interdependence and individual accountability – which I am sure you are aware of. Within Kagan structures this is often quite strong and been planned for, but when different activites occur beyond the planned structure sometimes PI and IA are harder to achieve throughout a lesson. I wonder if the small part of your lesson when some students were shy relates to IA and PI.

    Kagan talks a lot about structures within structures in Cooperative Learning – he says that lessons are built upon multiple structures so for example you do Shuffle card and then jigsaw or vice versa. When reading your blog I thought the 2nd activity of them walking around linked with one of your previous blogs on Jigsaw. I wonder if by combining shuffle board and Jigsaw you could enhance the accountability and make sure students have to report back to their group.

    For example, 1) in teams they do the shuffle card 2) They go to thier Jigsaw team and have to learn of other teams sequences – this would mean a) they had to remember their teams sequence b) be able to defend it and c) need to learn something from another team to be able to report back to their home team. 3) They then go back to their home team and modify their sequence.

    Great blog – thanks again for sharing – sounds like great work – I am just sharing some of the ideas on Kagan that I am beginning to develop an understanding of myself.

    Hope this is helpful – whats next?


    • Thanks Vicky,

      Thinking about it you’re right, there were certainly elements of structures within structures. I suppose that is the power of the cooperative learning structures. Using our new accelerating skills in PE we can identify nearly all 6 cogs within that single lesson.

      What Next?
      I think it would be useful to continue exploring the power of CL in various ways etc and then map out in the curriculum/SOW where we can use a structure (s) with the underpinning COGS as the overarching skill. This would make the whole curriculum holistic, diverse and purposeful in developing students skills.

      Is performance important? Of course it is. But the 6 development skills are even more important and I feel performance is a consequence of the development of the 6 skills and the process we facilitate the students through.

      If students want to take performance further, there are planned PE activities/ECA and club links that can just that.

      If to come across any structures which might me worth exploring, I’m happy to give them a go.



  2. Hi Lee

    I think what you are doing is right it is about playing with different parts of the model and the structures first before planning on your curriculum when they will be used. Structures within in structures can be hard as you have to jump from one to another which may confuse you and the students but then on the same hand it can enhance the lesson and the engagement of students and make it flow I think it is just about getting used to the model and being comfortable with making mistakes and learning from them.

    I agree with it fitting with all areas of learning – in the UK we found it hit almost all key processes of the National Curriculum each lesson. As you say it allows students to develop thier physical performance but through the other 5 areas.

    I have quite a few structures – as it is something I am exploring with teachers at the moment. Have you seen my you tube clips (below) these are from a professional development session I did with Ben Dyson in July. I have these structures and others written in a document if you would like to see some of these as well. I am happy to help out and give advice and support – but on the same hand really interested in what your doing. I think your blogs are a great space for others to learn of the model.

    Looking forward to hearing more



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