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Cooperative Learning: How to get pupils communicating

09 October 2014

One of the greatest challenges any school has, especially an International school where pupils come from all over the world, is how to get the pupils effectively communicating with their teacher and with each other.

Another common challenge to most classroom teachers is how to get all the pupils in their class to participate in lessons equally.

Any school which adopts the effective use of Cooperative Learning Structures (CLS) will at once address both of these issues. Cooperative Learning is a system of teaching children, based on 4 principles:

Positive interdependence, Individual accountability, Equal participation and Simultaneous interaction, or PIES for short. It is not just group work, where usually one or two students will take over, while the others enjoy a free ride. CLS is rather a whole series of many different organisational structures which essentially ensure that pupils interact equally and are also reliant on each other in a positive way. The new National Curriculum for England stresses over and over again how important it is that pupils get the opportunity to speak clearly and articulately. When used effectively CLS gives children the opportunity to do both.

The old days, where a teacher would stand in front of a class doing all the talking are over. We need to develop not just children’s listening skills, which are very important, but their ability to interact and become directly involved in every lesson. All of them, every time.  

“Cooperative Learning Structures not only make a student far more likely to actively enjoy their school, class and teacher but they also teach pupils to be more responsible, creating a sense in them that they do make a difference. Moreover, in working in structured CLS groups students learn to work with and understand others who differ from themselves” - Spencer Kagan, the founding father of CLS.

There are not many educational philosophies more pertinent to the holistic education we strive to deliver here at Regents International School Pattaya, than the notion of getting pupils to work and develop together, on an equal and simultaneous level, during all their lessons and opportunities for learning.