We all live in a society that promotes the values of communication, helping others, collaboration, respect, diversity, participation and responsibility. As a result, **working in groups has become an indispensable skill in the 21 ^{st} century** and cooperative learning has become a major feature of classrooms.

The aim of group work is to get students to

**actively participate in their own learning and to embrace the values of cooperation, responsibility and helping others**.

Here are 6 activities and techniques to help you put cooperative learning into practice in your classroom!

### Working in groups: Primary classrooms

To begin, the teacher sets a problem for students to solve and says, ‘Pencils in the middle’. Everyone must put their pencils in the middle of the table **and talk for five minutes about how to solve the problem**.

Once they have discussed it and everyone understands, students can pick up their pencils and work on their own to complete the task. This activity **encourages oral expression and active listening**, since children must explain the task orally and listen to each other’s explanations.

Students are put in groups and each student is given a number. When the teacher asks a question,** the students work in their groups to find the answer**. Then the teacher randomly picks a number and asks the students with that number to answer the question.

This method **encourages all team members to understand the concepts** covered in the activity and to explain them to each other. The encouragement of peer teaching also results in a more effective understanding of the answers to questions.

In a jigsaw reading, **students read different parts of a story before sharing it** with members of their group. This dynamic is great for **active listening and the understanding of a text** or another resource, such as a video or a slide presentation. Students also internalise the most important concepts and understand them at a deeper level than if they had simply read the text by themselves.

**Working in groups: Secondary classrooms**

**Peer tutoring**– The example video is from a primary classroom, but the method is the same

In this technique, a student who has already grasped a teaching point **helps another student to understand** it. This allows students to **learn from each other and develops various skills**, such as communication, problem solving, learning strategies and understanding of content.

This is similar to the jigsaw reading technique described above for primary classrooms. The teacher divides a text into 4 or more sections (e.g. Text A, Text B, Text C and Text D) and distributes them to the class. **All of the students with Text A form an expert group and discuss questions related to it**, deepening their knowledge of the subject and addressing any doubts they may have.

The same process occurs with students who have been given Text B, C and D. **The teacher then regroups** the students so that each new group contains an expert in Text A, Text B, Text C and Text D.

**The students explain their part of the text** to each other by summarising its contents and answering the questions they discussed during the expert groups phase. This technique **favours positive interdependence**, since each student has part of the information necessary to understand the global nature of a topic.

Students work in teams to **research a topic and produce a piece of work on it**, for example a presentation. This strategy **stimulates intrinsic motivation**, since it is based on individual self-interest and shared common interest with other group members, who work together to carry out the research.

The above working in groups methods develop students’ **individual responsibility, positive interdependence, participation and interaction between team members**.

Each of these methods can be adapted to suit the characteristics of each group or class, and some techniques can be combined with others.

*Translated and adapted from 10 dinámicas para trabajar en grupo en primaria y secundaria.*

*If you would like more suggestions for classroom activities, take a look at some of our Vicens Vives Club Ideas or 7 tips for teaching phonics.*

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