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In cooperative learning, students help each other to learn. In cooperative learning many different structures are used. Structures are ways of organizing learning in the classroom.
Usually a teacher starts out with one simple structure per lesson. He should first try that structure in a class where he is most confident of success. The teacher learns from the experience, continues using that structure, and gradually uses it with other classes and subjects. After approximately one month, the teacher can do the same with another structure, and so forth. “If … the teacher learns five structures, he/she could meaningfully include cooperative learning in lessons all year, to further the academic progress of students in any subject matter.” (Kagan, Cooperative Learning, p. 5:3) Gradually the use of multistructural lessons will come naturally.
Structures can be categorized in various ways as an aid for their use by teachers. The following categorization is useful for this unit on Cooperative Learning:
Thinking Skills Structures
Pair Discussion (also a High Consensus Structure)
Pair -Discussion -Share (also a High Consensus Structure)
Pair Discussion-Write-Share (also a List Structure)
A Thinking Skills Structure is used with a low consensus question. It can have several or many possible answers, not necessarily all ‘right’ or “wrong.”
High Consensus Structures
Community Circle (also a List Structure and a Thinking Skills Structure)
Paired Heads Together
A high consensus question typically has only one correct answer.
Community Circle (also a High Consensus Structure and a Thinking Skills Structure)
A List Structure is designed so that the students create a list of answers either orally or in writing.