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After reviewing the research as part of your reading assignment and research

completed from other outside resources; and (just as important) based on your own
experiences, what criteria should a teacher include or employ to: Group, manage, and
provide meaningful feedback (including grades) to students using cooperative learning
instructional strategies?
The layout of my classroom is based upon cooperative learning, that’s how much
of a believer I am in group learning. My desks are grouped into five groups of four and
one group of five (my class sizes are all around the 2 mark). This is actually a fairly
recent change in my philosophy of how to help students learn. My father, who is also a
teacher once told me, “David, if you ever want to know how much you know, teach it to
someone else.” Cooperative learning makes this idea essential within the classroom.
Cooperative learning has so many benefits to it that can be employed on a daily
basis. But, as the text states, I also “integrate cooperative learning with competition and
individual work.” (Dean, 2012 p. 42) I completely agree with that idea that our
classrooms are “becoming increasingly diverse… in terms of learning styles and levels
of understanding.” (Dean, 2012, p. 45), so my aim is to take advantage of this to
promote student learning that I may not be able to foster on my own.
I would have to say that my most successful attempt of cooperative learning is
currently happening in my freshman class. Up until this year, my use of cooperative
learning was fairly basic, incorporated throughout the lesson would be questions that I
called F.I.O, or Figure It Out. These questions were meant to encourage students to
figure out answers to questions on their own instead of the typical lecture. This in itself
was a fairly tough experiment, in school, especially at the high school level, students are
motivated and solely concerned with (for the most part) their own personal success
rather than the understanding that they can succeed if the whole group succeeds. It is
hard to instill the team concept in young people and it takes a long time to get it out of
them especially when they do have some failures. It is easy for the student, and their
parent, to easily place blame on another student in the group when the group fails. To
combat this idea I provide a rubric for any major assignments that require group work
which, as the text states, “provides students with information about what good
performance or high quality work looks like” (Dean, 2012, p. 19) as well as a clear
explanation of their responsibilities of group members. Again, I have the benefit of
being a football coach in this situation. While I don’t give rubrics to my players, from
day one I am able to instill the idea that our defensive success comes from the
collective success of the eleven.
Each group performance in my class is evaluated, which doesn’t necessarily
mean that everything is graded. Each day, the groups can be evaluated in a myriad of
ways. The easiest way I can evaluate the group is through discussions, I may give
them some time to answer a question in their groups along with time to discuss the
question. To evaluate, I may just roam from group to group asking further questions
based upon the discussion they are having or by possibly turning their results into a

competition awarding points to the teams and rewarding the winners of these mini
“competitions.” Essentially reward the effort that they put forth as a group and
emphasize the benefits of team success. The thing I like about this is that the students
who are intrinsically motivated by the grades take it upon themselves to lead the group
to success, which is similar to the “Team Games Tournament” mentioned in the Slavin
article. But, they do so with an understanding that they need to win as a team. But, as I
have been doing recently, I don’t grade everything. Lately, I have been assessing one
group effort with grades then giving them feedback and soon after reassessing them on
their weaknesses through another group effort. I have even taken it a step further by
making groups responsible for the class’s success on future projects or other forms of
assessments.
I read books on team building constantly, most being of a military nature, but
when I began this assignment I googled “team and individual success.” I clicked on
Wikihow.com just to see what they said and one of the key points is also referenced in
our text, this idea being that team selection needs to be done so that “they have diverse
knowledge and skills so that the team is well rounded and prepared to deal with any
complications that may appear.” (Wikihow, 2014). In each group there are definitely
different levels of academic abilities as well as different personalities. The students who
are more academically inclined also tend to be more intrinsically motivated and want to
do the work for the whole group. This usually ends up being a problem. To combat this
idea, I try to address is in a few different ways. I provide rubrics or explanations of
assignments which hold individual group members responsible for certain parts. An
example of this would be a debate in which students have different categories they can
choose from such as: Debate questions, Rebuttal, visual, opening statement. Or, and
this is a little more difficult, I provide two rubrics for the group. One which assess the
group as a whole, and counts for 50% of their grade, and one rubric that assesses the
individuals in each group and counts for the other 50% of their grade. By doing this, I
am able to encourage a multitude of the benefits that our text discusses such as
positive interdependence, individual and group accountability and interpersonal and
small group skills.
There are very few things that we do today that does not require us to become a
good “team player.” For this reason, I need to continue to foster the idea of teamwork
and the correlation of success. I am not sure if I have to cite myself from a previous
post but, as I stated earlier in another post, I try to demonstrate the idea, through social
studies, the idea of the greater good. And, hopefully, like I do with my defense, get
them to buy into the idea of, “As you go, we go.”
References:
Dean, C. (2012). Classroom instruction that works. (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 118-136).
Denver: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.

Slavin, E.O. (2003). Synthesis of Research on Cooperative Learning.
http://elearn.une.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_group=courses&url=
%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2FdisplayLearningUnit%3Fcourse_id
%3D_21371_1%26content_id%3D_796609_1%26framesetWrapped%3Dtrue
Wikihow. (2014). http://m.wikihow.com/Build-a-Successful-Team