The Graffiti Wall
Above is a lesson outline for a cooperative learning lesson I do with my 1st grade class. In the lesson the students will share what they have learned about the unit on a graffiti wall. They will then be able to read other classes wall and compare what they learned.
The graffiti was has been a great way to work in classroom groups. This has also been a wonderful way to connect to the other 1st grade classes at our school. The students have enjoyed reading all the things the other classes say. I'm in a dual immersion program so I teach two groups of students each day. The graffiti wall has helped me remember comments or question that one group has thought of that the other hasn't. I have heard the students talk about our graffiti wall at recess with students from the other classes about how they though of the same things. It has helped build and closer community within the students in my grade level.
Can You Follow Me?
The above link is for the shapes needed for the lesson below.
Listening really is something that has to be taught. There are so many distractions in the world that most of us only listen with one ear and miss half of what is being said to us. Teaching children at a young age how to be a good listener will not only help them be more successful but hopefully also be a better friend.
The above lesson includes cooperative learning strategies such as inside the fish bowl and shoulder partners. You will need both links to complete the activities in the lesson.
I love doing this lesson! it's always interesting to see how the students work together. It has help some of my students to really listen and ask questions when I'm giving direction. One little guy and his partner had a really hard time listening to each other during this activity. They both put things where they wanted them and did not come close to what the other had made. They were both very upset with each other and ended up needing some cooling off time. I had them get back together with me guiding the discussion and we talked about why it didn't work. They each made a list of things they would do to so they could make it work next time. I gave them the chance to redo the activity. The second time they were able to make each other's pattern and wanted to keep going. After that any time students around either one of them start to talk while I'm giving directions they tell them to stop and pay attention so they can make my "pattern" right. Although this did have a good ending I think part of the problem was the personality of the two students that were paired together. I will spend more prep time thinking about who I want working together and possible use a different way to assign partners for this activity.
The above link is a poster I made as to why I feel shoulder partners is a must in the classroom. It also has a list of things you need to teach prior to having kids work with their shoulder partner.
I use shoulder partners in my class so all the students have a chance to say what they are thinking. There have been a few time I have used it at the beginning of the year before teaching things like how to listen to a partner, sticking to the point, the importance of using their manners and one of the most important how to disagree. All of which have not turned out liked I had hoped. Through those experiences I have come to realize how important the pre-teaching is to working not only in shoulder partners but in any cooperative learning activity.
Down the Back of the Chair Project
Cooperative learning does not need to stay inside the classroom. I work with many teachers at my school to give my students a verity of different experiences and connections throughout the school. Working with other grade levels helps the students get to know other students in the building and make new friends to play with at recess. It also helps the students feel more comfortable moving to the next grade because they have meet and been in the 2nd grade teachers class. The link above shows a project I did with a 2nd grade teacher and our classes.
In the lesson we taught together the students were to create a chair and a list of words of things they found in the chair using rhyming words. Below are two of the papers the students will need.
We had a lot of kids in one room. Although I think the project went well there are a few things I would change. First we did everything in the 2nd grade class. Next time I would start with everyone in the same class. However once we had introduced it and given direction I would split them group into 2 taking 1/2 the first graders and their second grade partner back to my room. This would allow the students more space to work and a work space with less noise. Second we did everything in one day. It worked don't get me wrong but I think if we would have stretched it out over a few days it would have given the students a better chance to get to know each other and edit their work for a higher quality project.