Cooperative Learning: is a teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject. Each member of a team is responsible not only for learning what is taught but also for helping teammates learn, thus creating an atmosphere of achievement. (U.S. Department of Education, 1992. Office of Research Consumer Guide. https://www2.ed.gov/pubs/OR/ConsumerGuides/cooplear.html).
Cooperative Learning for ELLs:Cooperative Learning is particularly beneficial for any student learning a second language. Cooperative Learning activities promote peer interaction, which helps the development of language and the learning of concepts and content. It is important to assign ELLs to different teams so that they can benefit from English language role models. ELLs learn to express themselves with greater confidence when working in small teams. In addition to 'picking up' vocabulary, ELLs benefit from observing how their peers learn and solve problems. If you decide to assign each student in a team a role (such as reporter, recorder, time keeper, and materials manager), you might want to rotate roles each week or by activity. This prevents what typically happens if students select their own roles - the same students wind up performing the same tasks. By rotating, students develop the skills they most need to practice. (Colorin Colorado, n.d. Cooperative Learning Strategies. http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/cooperative-learning-strategies)
The Six Basic Elements of Cooperative Learning: 1. Positive Interdependence: In the Cooperative Learning activity "The Chemistry of Traditional Dia de los Muertos Bread", students work together to achieve the final goal of writing a 1 to 2 paragraph informative essay about the traditions of Día de los Muertos, and the chemistry involved in baking the bread. Each student plays an important role that will contribute significantly to the final learning outcome.
2. Individual and Group Accountability: Each group member is responsible for completing the tasks of a specific role. In the team, there must be 2 researchers, and editor, and a writer. Each individual’s role is equally important to achieve their collective goal. Each student is being evaluated based on his or her performance of their assigned tasks, and as a group based on the quality of their final paragraph.
3. Group Processing: Through this learning activity, students will be able to develop: trust, commitment, and group cohesion. Students will learn to work in teams, while learning about the importance of valuing each other’s cultures.
4. Social Skills: Each student is assigned a leadership role, and they do not overpower each other. They share a common goal that will be reached through their ability to interact positively, and constructively with one another.
5. Face-to-Face Interaction: Students interact with each other through constructive dialogue that clarifies, and expands their understanding of the topic. They dialogue continuously throughout the essay peer-editing process with the purpose of giving clarity to their collective piece of writing.
6. Specific Task added by Andrew Johnson, Instructor monitors students’ progress, documents observations of group interactions, and provides feedback to individual students. He or she guides students through their Cooperative Learning experience by supporting them with insights that expand students’ perspectives.
Minnesota State University, Mankato (Brown & Ciuffetelli, 2009; Johnson, Johnson & Holubec, 1988; Siltalia, 2010)
Día de los Muertos Breadistry:
Standards: California ELD Standards A. Collaborative. 1. Exchanging information/ideas. Contribute to class, group, and partner discussions, sustaining conversations on a variety of age and grade-appropriate academic topics by following turn-taking rules, asking and answering relevant, on-topic questions, affirming others, providing additional, relevant information, and paraphrasing key ideas.
B. Interpretive. 6. Reading/viewing closely. a. Explain ideas, phenomena, processes, and relationships within and across texts (e.g., compare/contrast, cause/effect, themes, evidence-based argument) based on close reading of a variety of gradeappropriate texts, presented in various print and multimedia formats, using increasingly detailed sentences, and an increasing variety of general academic and domain specific words.
C. Productive. 10. Writing. a. Write longer literary and informational texts collaboratively (e.g., with peers) and independently by using appropriate text organization and growing understanding of register. Objective: In this activity, students will learn about the importance of valuing students' underrepresented cultures, and holiday celebrations in the classroom. They will learn why several of their classmates celebrate Día de los Muertos, instead of Halloween. The content purpose of this learning activity is to teach students to work cooperatively to conduct research, and to develop their writing skills. As a result of this activity, students will be able to make connections between culture, and Chemistry. They will be able to comprehend how the four ingredients of "pan de muerto": flour, water, yest, and salt interact to change the flavor, and the chemical characteristics of bread (texture, size, etc.). Finally, they will understand the traditions of Día de los Muertos, and why this holiday is culturally rich, and important to Mexicans.