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In this paper, you will learn about what cooperative learning and how it is beneficial to English Language Learners (ELL). Cooperative learning is working in groups where students are at different academic levels and different levels of English proficiency. In each group, students have assigned roles so they are accountable for the work being completed. The assigned roles or jobs are the materials person, checker, manager, and summarizer. Without each student's participation, the team can not complete their assignment. Along with learning what cooperative learning is, you will also learn the benefits cooperative learning has to offer ELL students.
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Do you know what cooperative learning is? Are you aware of all of the benefits of cooperative learning? In this paper, you will find out what cooperative learning is and how it benefits English Language Learners (ELL). This paper will also compare and contrast collaborative learning and cooperative learning.
Cooperative learning is having students work together in teams like collaborative learning. Just like collaborative learning, students are assigned specific tasks to complete in the group work. Both forms of teamwork also get students talking about their assignments and sharing their thoughts. Both types of teamwork give students a chance to compare and contrast what they did to the other students. These are all ways that they are similar.
Cooperative learning is different from collaborative learning in many ways. The biggest difference is that cooperative learning holds all students in the group accountable individually. Collaborative learning only holds the group responsible. This individual accountability is what makes cooperative learning so beneficial. An emergent English speaker is placed in a group with a fluent English speaker. Students are held accountable because each student in the group is assigned a key role (Echevarria, J., Vogt, M., & Short, D. 2008).
In each group, there are jobs assigned to each student. Usually there are four students in a group. The most common jobs are materials, checker, manager, and summarizer. The job of the materials person is to make sure the group has all the materials needed for the assignment. They also put away the materials and collect any papers for absent members of the group. The checker asks the teacher any questions the
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group has. They also make sure all members of the group understand the assignment and don't have unanswered questions. The manager makes sure all of the members of the group are on task, and are completing the assignment in a timely manner. The manager is responsible for the finished assignment, which will be presented to the class. The summarizer makes sure the group is talking about the assigned topic, not other subjects. They also make sure to find ways to connect the assignment to the real world so it relates to all of the members of the group (Millis, B., 2010).
The assigned roles of the group hold the students responsible for the finished product. It gives each student something to achieve while they are in the group. With each student having an assigned role, it is not left up to one or two students to complete the assignment, everyone has a part. It also has peers making sure work is getting complete, not just the teacher. If one student is not working, it will make the group not work. A team is successful if everyone is participating and cooperating together (Millis, B., 2010).
Another key component of cooperative learning groups is having heterogeneous grouping. The group of students should consist of students that have different strengths especially focusing on English language ability. There should be a proficient English speaker with an emergent speaker then the other two students can be proficient or emerging in their English. Having students that are in different stages of English proficiency is a great way to help the emergent speakers see English spoken by their peers regarding school subjects (Noyes, D., 2009).
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In the groups, there are rules or guidelines students must follow. Along with students following this, teachers must follow these guidelines as well. Students are not to put each other down. They are to support one another. They should be staying on task, and everyone needs to be participating. These rules will help the students feel comfortable which will allow them to express their thoughts more easily (Noyes, D., 2009).
Each cooperative learning assignment must have the following criteria in order for the benefits of cooperative learning to take place. The first is that all students are accountable for the assignment. This is a wonderful way for all students to be involved in the activity. There must be positive interdependence. This is where students must be able to depend and rely on each other to complete their part of the activity. If their assigned task is the materials person, then they are depended upon by the other members of the group to have all of the materials ready and for them to be put away. The students also need to know what the learning objective is. They must know what the task is and what they will get out of it. Finally, there must be equal participation within the group in order for cooperative learning to be beneficial (Noyes, D., 2009).
There are many activities that teachers can use cooperative learning for. One lesson is having the students use a framed organizer for reading. The group must answer problem, solution, setting, and the main character of a story. Each student in the group is expected to write the answer to one of the story elements. Once completed, the students can discuss their answers. What is great about this is that it is helping develop the
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cognitive language skills of the ELL. It is developing this by using the subject specific vocabulary such as discussing the word setting. The framed organizer can be used with
any subject. It is then having ELL students' use the subject specific vocabulary and they are also hearing these vocabulary words being used. This is building their cognitive language (Jimenez, E., 2009).
Another cooperative learning activity is called "Find the Flub." In their cooperative learning groups, the teacher says a statement about the subject being taught. As a group, the students must decide together if it is a true or false statement. This is a great way to build cognitive language because it is getting ELL a chance to discuss a subject with other fluent English speakers. It is also giving the ELL students a chance to process the English language and think deeply regarding the subject being taught (Noyes, D., 2009).
Cooperative learning is a great way to help ELL students build their English fluency by communicating with proficient English speakers. It is beneficial because it has students have an assigned job. They then know their purpose in the group and will actively be listening and participating. Cooperative learning is a great way for ELL students to build their English vocabulary, have conversations with other students in English, and be an active part of a group.
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