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Implementing Key

Competencies through
Co-operative Learning

An action research project by Lesley

Johnston, Alison Holden and Bridget
Our Intended Outcome
  Our outcome is to empower children (Year
0-3) to understand and use key competencies.

  Our expectation is that the knowledge gained

by introducing key competencies through co-
operative learning will enable our children to
uphold our school vision.

  “Opening doors for children to be

confident, active, successful and
inquiring learners who are followers of
St Peter Chanel School Vision 2009
What is co-operative learning?
  “Co-operative learning is the instructional
use of small groups so that students work
together to maximise their own and each
other’s learning.” (Johnson, Johnson and
Holubec, 1994, p1:3)

  “Co-operative learning is a teaching

procedure that enhances both academic
and social skills.” (Brown and Thompson,
2000, p11)
The Elements
  There are five elements that form the basis of co-
operative learning.

  P Positive interdependence
  I Individual accountability
  G Group reflection
  S Small group skills
  F Face to face interaction

  Johnson and Johnson (1994) say the combination of

these five elements make cooperative learning such a
powerful tool for thinking and learning.
What we did…
  We focussed on three of the five key
competencies that we felt were most
applicable to co-operative learning in the
junior school. These were:
  Thinking
  Relating to Others
  Participating and
Introducing Key Competencies
  We introduced the keys to the children one
competency at a time.
Our delivery plan-
“We have five key competencies… just like reading
numeracy and art.”
We showed the children a key
We asked the children what they thought each key
might mean
We recorded their ideas on a t-chart …Looks like,
Sounds like.
We revisited and reflected...
Co-operative Learning
Structures Used
  Think Pair Share –Tuning In, Wonderings
  Think Pair Square - Tuning In
  Donut - Wonderings, Sorting Out
  Storm and Sort – Finding out, Sorting Out
  Timed Talking - Reflection, Going Further

  These co-operative learning structures

were the vehicles through which the key
competencies were practised.
Our Children’s Feedback
  “I like it when I have to shut my eyes cos I
can think better” Izzac (via Think Pair Share, Thinking)

  “I get good ideas from my friends.” Phoebe (via

Think, Pair Share, Relating to Others)
  “It’s good when I can get a job like
timekeeper.” Logan (via Storm and Sort, Participating
and Contributing)
  “I think it’s good to try hard and listen hard.
It is important to listen.” Holli (In co-operative
Our Children’s Feedback contd…
  “I can be a writer for my group.” Ashlee (via
Storm and Sort, Participating and Contributing)
  “I think it’s hard sometimes to keep talking
about the same thing for 30 seconds. 30
seconds is a long time.” Caleb (via Timed Talking,
  “I get to move around and talk to lots of
different people” Mya (via Donut, Participating and
  “In Room One when we all participate and
contribute our PC rocket moves towards the
treasure box.” Joshua (Participating and Contributing)
  “The hats help me to organise my thinking” Nuala
(via using hats, Thinking)
What we found out…
Through our observations we found:
  Many children were able to unpack and
comprehend the language of key competencies.
  The children are learning to retain and use the
language of key competencies through co-
operative learning structures.
  The children learn best through frequently
revisiting and reflecting on their new learning.
They are beginning to independently give peer
  The children are now beginning to use the key
competencies in a variety of contexts across the
Our Conclusion
  We were surprised at how enthusiastic the
children were when taking on board the
language of the key competencies.
  As expected, co-operative learning
structures enabled the children to
demonstrate the key competencies in
  This action research has allowed us to
scaffold our children with the knowledge
required to become life long learners.
Where to now…
  Introduce the remaining two key
competencies; Managing self and Using
language, symbols and text.
  Teach the children additional co-operative
learning structures such as Numbered
Heads Together and Group Roles.
  Integrate this knowledge across the
curriculum, while encouraging children to
reflect on the impact the key competencies
will have on their learning.
Professional Development:

  Cooperative Learning: Key Strategies for

the New Curriculum. Mark Sweeney
  Key Competencies in Every day Practice.
Tony Ryan
  Creating the Thinking Classroom. Eric
  Key Competencies and Inquiry. Graham
  Brown D and Thomson C. (2000)
Cooperative Learning in New Zealand
Schools. New Zealand: Dunmore Press
  Johnson D.W, Johnson R.T and Holubec
E.J. (1994) The Nuts and Bolts of
Cooperative Learning. Edina, MN:
Interaction Book Company