Cooperative Learning Teams

“Teams” is a cooperative learning tool that promotes and develops positive teamwork practices for groups.

Photo of Laurie Ellis
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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.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jordan Lippman

This is great. I would love to see the competencies that your classrooms defined as success. Would you be willing to share these without the actual data?

Photo of Emma Scripps

Laurie! Wow - this is awesome. Helping students understand how to collaborate and form teams is so valuable. Curious - how did you set this practice up in the class? And what are the routines you rely on the help get students regularly returning to the tool.

If you were to adapt or iterate in any way - what would you change?


Photo of Laurie Ellis

Emma, we started very slowly. My students sit in teams of 4 from the beginning of the year and I refer to them all the time as a team. I narrate on a regular basis the importance of relying on each other and asking each other questions. Next week, I will start slowly by establishing a protocol of a homework goal for the team. They will get a bonus point if everyone in their team does homework. every week, I will add to the team check idea. One week it will be teams I notice helping each other, they'll get a point. I will build on this with noticing keeping each other focused during group work, get a point. At the end of a two week period, the team with the highest points will get a prize (pencil, stickers, something like that). I just keep building and messaging the importance of working in a team.

Photo of John Faig

Learning should be social. There are also ways to ensure personal accountability of students within teams.