Cooperative Structures


Think-pair-share. Give students a question or a problem and have them think quietly of an answer or solution.  Have them discuss their response with a student sitting close by, and then have them share with the entire class. A time limit of one or two minutes should be used for the pair exchange.  This is a good technique for breaking up a presentation, as well as an assessment of student understanding.


Pairs check. Partners coach each other on a worksheet or text problem and/or check notes for completeness and accuracy. Time: two minutes.



Three Step Interview

Three Step Interview.  Students form pairs and one-partner interviews the other on a predetermined topic (What are some of the most significant health issues facing humankind today?) for two or three minutes; partners switch roles.  Then pairs combine to form groups of four. Each group member introduces his or her partner, sharing the information from the original interview. This is a great icebreaker activity and also fosters active listening.


STAD (Student Teams-Achievement Divisions). After a lecture, video, demonstration or discussion of a chapter in the text, teams of three or four receive a worksheet to discuss and complete. When team members feel they have reached acceptable solutions, you can give a brief oral or written quiz to the group, representative, or each member of the team to assess mastery of the material. See page 101 in the Cooperative Learning Handbook.

Jigsaw. Each member of a "base group" is assigned a minitopic to research. Students then meet in "expert groups" with others assigned the same minitopic to discuss and refine their understanding.  Base groups reform, and members teach their minitopics to each other. You can give a brief oral or written quiz to the group, representative, or each member of the team to assess mastery of the material. See page 105 of Cooperative Learning Handbook.


Constructive controversy. Pairs in a group of four are assigned opposing sides of an issue. Each pair researches its assigned position, and the group discusses the issue with the goal of exposing as much information as possible about the subject. Pairs can then switch sides and continue the discussion. See page 123 of the Cooperative Learning Handbook.



Numbered heads together. Each member of a team of four is assigned a number. Pose a thought question, a problem, or present an EEEP, and allow a few minutes for discussion with the groups. Call out a number after randomly selecting a numbered card from a deck. The person whose number is called stands and represents the group. Call on selected students who are standing. See page 25 of the Cooperative Learning Handbook.


Roundtable/Circle of Knowledge.. Groups of three or more members brainstorm on an assigned topic, with each member taking turns to write down one new idea on a single piece of paper.  The process continues until members run out of ideas. When time is up, the group with the most number of independent ideas presents to the class. See page 70 of the Cooperative Learning Handbook.


Talking Chips. This is a method to ensure equal participation in discussion groups. Each member receives the same number of chips (or index cards, pencils, pens, etc.).  Each time a member wishes to speak, he or she tosses chip into the center of the table.  Once individuals have used up their chips, they can no longer speak. The discussion proceeds until all members have exhausted their chips.


Co-op cards. Each partner in a pair prepares a set of flashcards with a question or a problem on the front and correct answer(s) on the back. One partner quizzes the other until the latter answers all the questions or problems in the set correctly. Then they switch roles and use the other set of flashcards. A great technique to help students memorize information and review.


Send a Problem. Similar to Co-op Cards, each member of a group writes a question or problem on a flashcard. The group reaches consensus on the correct answer(s) or solution and writes it on the back. Each group then passes its cards to another group, which formulates its own answers or solutions and checks them against those written on the back by the sending group. Stacks of cards continue to rotate from group to group until they are returned to the original senders, who then examine and discuss any alternative answers or solutions by other groups.



10-2. In this structure, present information for ten minutes, then stop for two. During the "wait time" students in pairs or small groups share their notes, fill in the gaps, or answer a question.



Think-aloud-pair-problem solving. Students are paired off, assigned a role of "problem solver (student A)," or "listener (student B)." Present a problem to be solved. Student "A" solves the problem by talking aloud, while student "B" encourages, supports, and asks questions (to help with the solution). Randomly select a group and ask them to present the solution to the class. Present a second problem, but this time ask the students in pair to reverse roles. See page 80 in the Cooperative Learning Handbook