Lee Garrett

A teaching and learning journey through PE


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Simple but effective – Cooperative Learning

COOPERATIVE LEARNING

Just recently I’ve been focusing on group processing in theory and practical lessons. We have started a new unit, Handball, and it was time to explore some more cooperative learning structures. Round Robin and Numbered Heads Together.

These structures were recommended by @VGoodyear. Check out the PE Practitioners Reseach Network here where there is an excellent community for developing PE peadagogy.

All videos are examples of 2 of the structures and the consultation work done by Ben Dyson and Vicky Goodyear.

Numbered Heads Together

Each team had approx 5/6 players. At half time, I asked them to sit in their groups facing inwards. The task was to discuss 3 positive aspects of the team’s performance and 2 targets for improvement. It was evident that immediately the conversation was going in the right direction and with everyone facing the inner circle it provided a nice little breeding pot of ideas. Once I sensed that conversations were beginning to go off task, I asked each person to number themselves. I then reiterated that every member of the team needed to know the 3 positive aspects and the 2 targets for improvement.  After another 2 minutes I then asked number 4 to stand and come to either member of staff where they would share their  discussions.

Round Robin

After another couple of games, it was the turn of the Round Robin structure. So back to the seated circle and this time, discussion was guided around the effectiveness of the team’s attacking ability. The round robin structure means that each team member  makes a response in consecutive order. The advantage of this is that each person HAS to provide at least one response that is different from the rest of the group. In Kagan’s terms this is positive interdependence and accountability.

My personal preference would be to merge the 2 structures together by using the round robin to engage everyone but then number players off and randomly call a number to feedback the responses.

Think-Pair-Share

The third and final group structure I have been experimenting with is the Think-Pair-Share. Again with a LG twist of intuition. This time, I was on a PE cover for a colleague (Yr 9 rugby). During the student lead drills of improving handling (developing the Social Cog), I wanted them to reflect on the progress of their mini coaching session. So in pairs, I asked them to sit back to back. For me this helps isolate and avoid distraction. After 60 seconds the pair turned to face each other and share opinions on their groups progress. After 2/3 minutes I then asked the pair to join with another pair (in the same group) and collaborate on ideas and seek way forward. Great discussion and certainly an improvement in the performance of the leaders and their organisation. (These are the times when I don’t mind being called for cover)

In summary

I have to say that this is still unfinished business as there are many little variations that could be included. The main positive of the above structures is the depth of group processing is creates. The round robin almost forces everyone to contribute (even the quieter ones) and if they’re lucky enough to be called during numbered heads together  then they even have to represent their group’s responses. One thing I felt as a teacher was the reduced questioning from myself as most of it was being done within the circle.

I think the danger could be too much dialogue and not enough activity. In a one hour handball lesson I used Numbered Heads Together and Round Robin only once. I think I may have had an opportunity to include perhaps one more group processing task but that would certainly be it. Nevertheless, the quality of engagement produced thoughtful responses and high levels of reflection.

3 very simple structures which can be used in a wide variety of environments and promotes a boiling pot of discussion.