|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
"In the forest, tree leans on tree, in a nation [people on
-Eastern European Proverb
Cooperative learning has a lot going for it, from motivating students to increasing students' self esteem (see Chapter 6). So how can you implement cooperative learning? There are dozens of strategies that can work and many resources that can help you determine what makes the most sense for your group. Many educators feel that dividing students into groups of 3-5 work best, with each person being assigned a sample role. For example, one student would be responsible for getting and taking care of any materials needed for the assignment, another student would make sure the group finishes on time, another would act as supervisor, another would write what happened in the group, and the last person might make an oral presentation to the rest of the class. We've listed some excellent resources in the Bibliography that explain how to make cooperative learning work and give examples of different types of cooperative activities.
In this section, we've included three sample activities to highlight cooperative learning. The first activity includes a variety of scenarios to promote thinking skills. Although each is written for students to do independently, you can easily adapt them to use as cooperative learning activities. For example, scenario #3, which focuses on pollination in the rain forest, can be used as a jigsaw. (A jigsaw is an activity where information is divided up into several pieces and each student is responsible for one piece and shares the information with others.) First, make 5-6 sets of clues, depending on how many teams you will be following. (There should be 4-6 students on a team.) Write each clue on a separate index card or piece of paper. (You can create more clues by separating each bit of information listed.) Give each member on a team 1-3 clues from the set. Then explain that they have to figure out which animal pollinates which plant by working together. The only rule is that they can't show their clues to any other team members.
The second activity focuses on using cooperative strategies to complete a research questionnaire. Although some of the information is out-of-date, the activity is a good model for cooperative learning and can be adapted by including more current information. The third activity encourages students to work together to rate products according to their environmental impact. Many of the other activities in this manual also promote cooperative learning.
ACTIVITIES IN THIS SECTION
1. JUNGLE SLEUTHS, reprinted with permission from Ranger Rick's NatureScope: Rain Forests-Tropical Treasures published by the National Wildlife Federation (1989).
2. WE CAN ALL BE EXPERTS, reprinted with permission from Food First Curriculum published by the Institute for Food and Development Policy.
3. RATERS OF THE PLANET ECO by Maura O'Conner. Reprinted
from Living Lightly on the Planet-Volume I, Grades 7-9, used with
permission through arrangement with Schlitz Audubon Center of the National
Audubon Society, 1111 East Brown Deer Road, Milwaukee, WI 53217. All rights