You know when you walk out of a lesson with a smile and you think to yourself “yeah that worked bloody well” well this is one teaching method which did just that.
Cooperative Learning has 4 underlying principles – PIES which the strategy promotes.
Positive interdependence, Individual accountability, Equal participation and Simultaneous interaction.
I set the scene of the students that they were to become part of a Special Forces Training Camp and created Task Force Groups. Within each Task Force was an expert in each skill as shown in the picture below.
In each Task Force, all the experts collaborated e.g. (All number 1s together, all number 2s together etc etc).
The experts were then sent to a corner of the pool to digest some laminated resources (instructions, diagrams, tips) and then practiced/discussed/analysed until they were proficient enough to re-teach it to their own Task Force.
Already, there was a clear sense of focus and engagement especially from the quieter and more reserved students.
At this stage, my couple of excused students (in PE kit) was distributed to each expert group to do pool side guidance. After the 10 minutes was up, the whole group quickly congregated around the whiteboard to reinforce the learning objectives and give a few pointers and off they went.
With each Task Force re-grouped, each expert now had to transfer their knowledge and understanding to the 3 other members. The Cooperative Learning PIES principles was extremely visible and as a teacher I actually stood back and enjoyed watching the transfer of learning. Talk about being “a guide on the side!!”. I had one student who is autistic and extremely shy and struggles to interact in lessons. On this particular occasion, he was leading with confidence, recalling multistructural facts and knew his own strengths and weaknesses. Brilliant!
The next stage of the lesson was to sequence the skills along with some others to create a self assessment challenge. Unfortunately time was running out but they did go through their challenge swiftly but I decided to link the sequence into the following weeks lesson using a different structure. After some questioning and peer group discussion, the lesson was over.
This lesson did take some time to set up and prepare, as have the other structures that we have used. But the quality of teaching and learning significantly outweighs this. There was a period of time where I sensed that I let a task go for too long because the experts felt they were ready. If I was to repeat this lesson maybe a small assessment task on their knowledge and application may be useful as a link whilst waiting for others to finish.
There is no doubt that the Jigsaw structure enhanced the use of independent learning. There were certainly times were I felt like a spare part just facilitating the lesson. It was extremely difficult not to interject and sometimes quite difficult to watch them make mistakes knowing you could have stopped that. But after all, learning is about making mistakes right? Since writing this blog, we now use the CreateDevelopment Accelerating Abilities COGS. Whether it was a creative or social COG, there is no doubt that if we were to focus on any of these dimensions of the COG wheel, performance and attainment would have significantly been raised and easily incorporated within the lesson itself.
At the same time this lesson was happening, my colleague was also using the same structure in girls gymnastics. She also came out smiling.
The follow on from this is the Silent Card Shuffle structure which promotes quality use of questioning.