Give Your Tutoring and Teaching a Boost with Cooperative Learning

Tutoring and teaching advice on how to use Cooperative Learning.

Cooperative Learning is one of the most powerful teaching and learning tools a teacher or tutor can have at their disposal. If used correctly, it can have a profound effect on the academic achievement and ethos of your class. Using cooperative learning approaches allows you to create experiences for learners which encourages a much higher rate of retention. As seen in the picture below, children learn best and remember most when they discuss, experience and teach with others. Cooperative learning provides the perfect context and methologies to facilitate children doing this. 

Teachers2Tutor share 5 easy to implement Cooperative Learning Strategies. 



5  Top Cooperative Learning Strategies For The Classroom


Think, Pair and Share

Think, Pair and Share is the work horse of Cooperative Learning as it is so flexible and easy to use. As you can see from the picture above, Think, Pair and Share is works by asking a question or setting a challenge and getting the children to consider how they could answer this question or meet the challenge as individuals.

At this point you should not pair the children! This is a common mistake. The children should individually create their own ideas, answers and thoughts first.Once they have done this, the children should be paired and each child should take a moment to explain their answers, thoughts or ideas to their partner.

Time should now be given for the pair to work together to reach an agreement on how they would like to present to others. This is where rich learning takes place as higher order thinking is often required to justify the merits of your thoughts over that of others.

Finally the pairs should feedback. Often this is done by asking a few pairs to feedback to the class. The downside to this is that only a few pairs get to share. Instead why not match pairs together and have them share with each other. This way all pairs have had the opportunity to share their learning and all pairs will be fully engaged!

To learn more about Think, Pair and Share click here




This is such a brilliant approach to learning and works so well for revising for exams or as a way of covering several learning intentions at the end of a topic. It does wonders for children's confidence as well as all children get the opportunity to be an 'expert', sometimes for the first time!

If we take the example of learning about different Parables from the Bible in RME. The first thing to note is that the amount of topics you can cover with this approach, must match the amount of children you have in each home team. The home team is the group the children start the lesson in. Let's say in this example you have 4 children in each home team so you choose 4 different parables for the children to revise.

You allocate each member of the home team a different Parable and then ask them to get in to their expert groups. The expert groups are groups of children who have all been given the same topic to learn or revise. You will then provide each group with different learning resources and materials and set them the challenge of creating a way to identify and present the main learning points from each topic.

Now here is the crucial part! You have to explain to each group, that they can not be successful or consider themselves finished until every member of their group feels confident to present and teach their parable to others. This helps to ensure the task is not rushed and those who need support get it. 

The children then return to their home teams and take turns to present and teach their findings to the rest of their group. All children know there will be questions on the parables that they were not experts in at the end of the lesson.

To learn  more about Jigsaws click here.


Inside Outside Circles


This is a great way to get children talking to many different children. The way inside outside circles work is that you split your class in to 2. The first half of your class forms the outside circle and then the second half of the class forms a second inner circle. Children should have a partner opposite them (1 from outside circle and 1 from inside circle). 

The definition given by Gagen 2009 is that, "Students rotate in concentric circles to face new partners for sharing, quizzing or problem solving."

Provide children with question cards on the inside of the circle. They ask their question to each person from the outer circle as they rotate round the circle. Then once the original partners meet roles are swapped. 

This strategy can be used as a get to know you task to help bond your class, as a great way to revise for exams or as a way of questioning and gathering information on any particular topic. 

To see a variation on Inside Outside Circles - Fish Bowl Circles - Click here


Four Corners


This is a great way of quickly establishing what your class knows about a particular topic and can be really good at providing  a starting point for your children's learning. It can also be great to explore a topic for debate, where you split the overall topic in to 4 sub areas. 

This is such an easy strategy to implement. Simply split the topic you want to focus on and then create 4 sub topics areas. You then ask the children to choose a corner that they would like to discuss more. The great thing with this is that it gives your children choice. Once the children have selected their corner, they work with the people in their group to discuss the sub topic or record everything they know about the given topic. 

Used in this way, you can soon bring the class together and genet a clear picture of how much the Classis knows about a particular overall topic or you have a superb amount of fuel for a fun and lively debate.

To learn more about 4 corners click here.  


The Social Skills Target


Each time you do any Cooperative Learning activity, you need to include a social target for the children to focus on. Regardless of the learning intention of your lesson, you have to take the time to emphasise the importance of the social target. This will lead to Cooperative Learning activities becoming more and more productive while ensuring your children have the social skills to be successful. The picture above suggests some targets you may wish to share but be response to the needs of your class and adjust accordingly. 


So there you have it. 5 easy to implement Cooperative Learning strategies for tutoring and teaching. Let us know what you think and if you have any other favourite strategies, we would love to hear about them. Happy Teaching!


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