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. 


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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.