Of all the valuable 21st century skills to build, cooperative learning is one of the most impactful for a student’s present and future. Teaching students how to turn their group into a team takes time. Inspired by the research of Robert Slavin and Success For All, Leadership Public School (LPS) teachers developed an approach and supporting tool that reinforce positive cooperative learning practices. The impetus for the innovation came from a desire to both teach and measure cooperative learning and support asynchronous learning challenges in the classroom by empowering students to self-regulate their own teams.
Students and their teacher start by co-defining a short list of specific positive team behaviors such as active listening or task completion. Next, together they define the criteria for each practice, being clear what they look and sound like so both students and teachers know how they will be recognized. Teachers then introduce and focus on a new practice every few weeks in “team competitions.” The teacher uses the tool and the agreed upon criteria to positively narrate and record when they notice a team exhibiting a practice.
Students contribute to their own collective record by declaring at the end of class which practice they believe they demonstrated best as a team. They see all of the data projected in front of the class and also on their own individual dashboards, allowing them to monitor in real-time how their team is doing and self-regulate based on the data. Teams compete against each other (overall rankings, trying to be the best that day - the purple bars) and themselves (reach set levels, meet their collective team goal). Multiple opportunities to succeed keep teams engaged, even if they fall out of contention with one or more metrics.
A critical weekly goal setting and reflection process allows students to review their individual and collective conduct and consider where they want to grow based on short term and long term data.
The real-time data influence learning in the moment via self-regulation. It also makes visible behavior trends in the form of hard data that students can point for measuring growth in ways they could not before. Prior experience found students receiving feedback on their teamwork skills from teacher observation alone. Putting the data in front of them and allowing them to both contribute to their record and self-regulate makes the experience more student-centered and generates greater buy-in.
Initial results saw significantly increased task completion on an individual level when compared with pre-tool data. Students also reported greater clarity on their teamwork strengths and growth areas by being able to point to specific data.