Lee Garrett

A teaching and learning journey through PE

Cooperative Learning

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.

After some background reading, Kagan website and Physical Education Practioner Research Network, I decided to use the Jigsaw structure in Personal Survival.

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.

Final Thoughts

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.


2 thoughts on “Cooperative Learning

  1. Hi Lee
    It sounds great that you had such a positive experience with Jigsaw and a great blog which I am sure will enthuse other practitioners and develop their understanding of the model. Your blog highlights how learning with by and for each other can certainly develop physical, cognitive and social learning. I think this is a great practical example of how this can be developed – especially when most of the time learning tends to focus on physical performance related outcomes, and the social and cognitive domains whilst we see them as important often ‘take a back seat’, or are not our main focus.
    Kagan has over 200 structures and the silent shuffle card I have never used. I would be really interested to see how you use this and I am sure the teachers I work with from Buckingham School and Birchwood High in the UK would too. Also we would be interested in how you have structured your unit of personal survival – are you using different structures each lesson? And is Cooperative Learning a theme for the whole unit? We are currently exploring how to use different structures within a unit – last year the teachers would use Jigsaw for the whole 8 lesson unit they taught.
    I also have a suggestion – Kagan highlights 4 elements. I would encourage you to use a 5th: Group Processing. Group Processing – is the time to reflect on learning – where in teams students answer, for example 2 questions – what went well in your group work? And what does your team need to work on? The aim is to get them to understand – what happened in the lesson? So what? i.e., why is it important, and What Now? How can their learning transfer.
    I blogged on PEPRN about think-share-perform have you used this one? http://www.peprn.com/news.aspx. Look forward to sharing more and hearing about your use of Cooperative Learning
    Vicky 

  2. Thanks Vicky,
    We are determined NOT to focus on performance this year but rather let performance be a consequence of the work we do on creativity, social, cognitive, personal, H&F and physical. I will post the silent card shuffle very shortly but was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. At the minute we are just experimenting with the various structures and feedback to the rest of the department but eventually we should have a bank of structures which we can incorporate in the SOW. I really like your suggestion of group processing and it makes complete sense to study and reflect on the dynamics of the group. Will give this a try. Look forward to sharing more ideas and experiences.


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