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Examining  Cooperative  Learning      1    

                Examining Cooperative Learning: Creating Meaningful and Equitable Student Participation Jillian Dalinkus University of San Diego, Masters/Credential Cohort Program

 


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Abstract Cooperative learning is becoming an increasingly popular strategy used by teachers. While the benefits of cooperative group learning have been studied and disseminated for a number of years, research has been less helpful in revealing the best way to organize cooperative groups for optimal levels of equitable participation and meaningful discourse. This six-week action research study of 8th grade students at a middle school in Mira Mesa, CA considered two main factors in improving participation and student-to-student discourse – discussion strategies (group roles and “accountable talk” strategies) and gender-alike groupings. Through the use of surveys, peer evaluations, audio recordings of group discussions, and observation notes, the successes and failures of each grouping arrangement were determined. Findings indicate that in mixed-gender cooperative learning groups students need clear interaction instructions and incentives to work together to make group learning successful. Although results were inconclusive as to which discussion strategy was most successful for cooperative learning, this research found that incorporating discussion strategies greatly improved meaningful discourse and equitable participation in mixed gender groups when compared to groups with no interaction instructions or incentives. It was also found that both male and female students preferred and showed significant benefits from working in gender-alike cooperative groups. These findings provide important information for teachers wishing to enhance student participation and learning using cooperative learning groups.

 


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Table of Contents Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………….4 Research Question………………………………………………………………………………...7 Literature Review…………………………………………………………………………………8 Description of Interventions……………………………………………………………………..11 Data Collection Methods………………………………………………………………………...16 Implementation Summary Chart…………………………………………………………………20 Phase 1…………………………………………………………………………………………...20 Pre-Study Survey………………………………………………………………………...20 Initial Mixed Gender Grouping………………………………………………………….23 Mixed Gender Group Roles……………………………………………………………...26 Mixed Gender Accountable Talk Strategies……………………………………………..29 Phase 2…………………………………………………………………………………………...32 Same Gender Initial Grouping…………………………………………………………...32 Same Gender Group Roles……………………………………………………………….35 Same Gender Accountable Talk Strategies………………………………………………38 Post-Study Survey………………………………………………………………………..40 Results……………………………………………………………………………………………45 Analysis and Discussion…………………………………………………………………………48 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………….55 Appendices……………………………………………………………………………………….59 Works Cited…………………………………………………………………………………….104

 


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Introduction Educators are constantly trying to discover teaching strategies that will help their students learn more efficiently and effectively. Traditional classrooms are often teacher-centered and, as Paulo Freire describes, the teachers are positioned as “depositors” of knowledge, and the students as “depositories” (Darder, Baltodano, Torres, 2003). However, in more recent years teachers have experimented with many different learning activities that involve students directly in the process of their learning. One of these activities is placing students in cooperative learning groups, allowing students to learn and expand their knowledge through discussion with one another. My action research project focuses on how to increase meaningful and equitable student-to-student discourse in mixed ability cooperative learning groups. As teachers continue to explore new avenues in teaching that differ from a traditional lecture based format, it is likely that the use of cooperative learning groups in classrooms will continue to grow. Students in teacher credentialing programs learn of the benefits of facilitating students in the construction of new knowledge, building on prior knowledge, and giving students authentic and applicable problems to consider (Santrock, 2008). Engaging students in small group discussions and activities is one way to accomplish these goals. Aside from its educational benefits, small group cooperation can also teach students skills that will serve them throughout the rest of their lives, such as learning to compromise, considering different points of view, reaching a consensus, and listening to others. These are skills that adults use in their everyday lives that can be learned and practiced through small group cooperative learning. Classroom Context This study took place in an 8th grade US History class at Wangenheim Middle School in Mira Mesa, CA. The school offers four “tracks” for 8th grade history: GATE (gifted and  


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talented), English as a second language, Special Education (for those with severe social/emotional or behavioral needs), and general education. The class involved was a general education class with a wide variety of student ability levels, socioeconomic statuses, and ethnicities. The class had twelve redesignated English language learners. Of this group, eight students showed noticeable language difficulty. The ethnicity breakdown is as follows: 33% Filipino, 17% Hispanic, 14% multiracial, 11% white, 11% African American, 8% Vietnamese, 3% Laotian, and 3% Chinese. The students are routinely taught using a lecture-based format in this class. They listen quietly as the teacher explains the day’s textbook section. Once a week they take an open-book quiz consisting of 10-15 fact-based questions. During each grading period they complete Applied Learning Notebook assignments, which call on them to copy down facts on certain events and color a corresponding picture. The students are rarely asked to move beyond the knowledge, comprehension, and application stages of intellectual activity, and engage in little, if any practice in developing analysis, synthesis, or evaluation skills. In order to prepare students for success in the 21st century they must be taught and practice “higher order” skills, such as communication, problem solving, and reasoning (Grubb & Lazerson, 2005). As I took over the class as the student teacher, I wanted students to take a more active role in their learning. I implemented more pair and group work in the hopes of fostering increased student-to-student academic discourse in the classroom, recognizing that discourse can lead to more engagement in problem solving and allow students a more in depth understanding of text and content (Almasi, 1995). However, the results of my efforts were overall disappointing. I found that when students were in small group discussions they either did not talk meaningfully to one another, they did not talk about the content they were learning with any  


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depth or complexity, or their participation was extremely varied, with a minority of students doing all the talking and/or work. Because of the class’ overall lack of experience with group work, it was the ideal setting for me to study how best to structure group work for increased and equitable student-to-student discourse in cooperative learning groups. Personal Connection As a student in the K-12 education system, I regarded history class in much the same way as my students do. I felt that there were interesting stories to hear about the past, but overall I thought it was a boring subject. School tasks in the history classroom were confined to listening to lecture, memorizing facts, and reading dense textbooks. History seemed very much disconnected from my personal life, and I viewed it more as something I “should know” than as something that holds valuable connections to today and lessons for the future. It was not until college that I took a liking to the subject that I now feel passionate about. In my college history classes I was, for the first time, asked to engage in small group discussion about historical concepts and to consider how they could inform and influence my actions and those around me and throughout the world. By listening to, questioning, and discussing the viewpoints and ideas of my peers, history truly came to life. I understood it better, saw the many real world connections and applications, and started to enjoy it as a subject. For me, learning was undoubtedly enhanced through discussion. But the best discussions I had, by far, were those in which all members of the group were engaged and felt comfortable contributing their ideas. The ability to successfully engage in discussion is a necessary life skill and has served me well into my adult life and career. I want my students to talk to each other about what they are learning. I want them to see their peers as resources that can enhance their learning. I want them to respect each other’s ideas and unique perspectives. Arranging small  


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group discussion opportunities is a first step to achieve these goals and yet it is something my students were not accustomed to doing. There were both benefits and challenges to my dual role as a teacher researcher. Because of a lack of research assistants and classroom aides, I took on a job that had me wearing two hats: teacher and researcher. Yet, successful teachers engage in many of the activities that researchers do day in and day out. Teachers monitor, evaluate, observe, and reflect on student learning daily. As a teacher researcher the only departure from my everyday activities in the classroom was a more organized, purposeful, and systematic way of collecting data that I informally collected during every class period. My new dual role had many benefits to both myself and my students. As I learned more about how to make learning in cooperative groups successful, I have improved my teaching practices and will continue applying and tweaking them in the future. My students also benefited personally from a study in which their teacher takes a careful look at an often-used practice that was adjusted for maximum performance and effectiveness. Research Question All of the above factors motivated my research question: How can meaningful and equitable student-to-student discourse in mixed ability cooperative learning groups be increased? Sub-questions explored included: x

Do prescribed group roles increase meaningful and equitable participation?

x

Do gender-alike groups increase meaningful and equitable participation?

x

Do accountable talk strategies increase meaningful and equitable participation? The main research question and sub-questions helped direct my investigation and helped

me to understand the benefits and challenges of various strategies pointed to in the literature that  


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suggest the likelihood of constructing effective cooperative group learning. By increasing meaningful student-to-student discourse and equitable participation from all group members, I hoped to discover how students can get the most out of cooperative learning groups. Each strategy was analyzed individually on its own success within the classroom, but was also compared with the others, to determine the most successful strategy. Literature Review Much has been studied about cooperative learning groups, and their advantages and limitations. Researchers began taking interest in the benefits and drawbacks of cooperative learning groups in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Through my research, some common themes have arisen: children learn better in cooperative learning groups than in a traditional lecture-based classroom, cooperative learning groups offer great learning benefits to lowperforming students at no cost to high-performing students, and the use of cooperative learning groups has to be carefully organized, monitored, and scaffolded by teachers. My research reviews the most well known education journals and studies that illustrate successful implementation of cooperative learning groups. Benefits of Group Learning Much research points to the benefits of group learning. Cooperative group work is grounded in the work of Vygotsky and his theory of the zone of proximal development (Lloyd & Fernyhough, 1999). Lloyd and Fernyhough explain that, according to this theory, students can perform beyond the limits of their individual skills when supported by a more experienced peer through social interaction. Group work is an obvious way to provide students with social interaction in which to increase their zone of proximal development. When compared with competitive and individualistic learning, cooperative learning is the most successful strategy in  


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problem-solving tasks (Johnson & Johnson, 1980). Johnson and Johnson found that the discussion involved in cooperative learning aids in the development of superior cognitive strategies in solving problems. They also found that peer support and encouragement are identified as contributing to the success of a cooperative learning structure, and medium and low ability students benefit from their interaction with high ability students, with no adverse effect to the high ability students. Research also shows that on average, students who learn in small groups within classrooms learn grade level content significantly better than students who do not learn in small groups, particularly in math and science classes (Lou, Abrami, Spence, Poulsen, Chambers, & d’Apollonia, 1996). The same study additionally found that students who learn in small groups have significantly more positive attitudes towards the subject matter taught, and have higher general self-concept than students in classes that don’t utilize grouping. Therefore, according to the literature, groups not only contribute positively to learning, but also to student attitudes and self esteem. Students in classrooms which use small-group learning, regardless of ability level, were more successful answering high-level questions and questions that required elaboration and explanation in the response than students from traditional lecture-based classrooms (Sharan, 1980). As a student teacher, I struggled to get students to explain their answers and provide evidence to back up their arguments, and Sharan’s research shows that cooperative learning groups can help foster the acquisition of these strategies. He also found that learning in small groups gave students greater freedom to express themselves, a greater sense of responsibility, since they felt the teacher trusted them, and gave them a sense of being accepted because they were listened to by their peers. This research lends itself to the idea that cooperative learning groups can create a sense of community within the classroom where learning and cooperation  


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can flourish. Finally, Gall & Gillett (1980) found that the discussion that takes place in cooperative learning is particularly beneficial for students who are weak in reading comprehension and individual study skills. This discussion provides a new learning mode for achieving educational objectives through speaking and listening in a group setting. What Makes Cooperative Learning Groups Work Many researchers agree that there are undeniable benefits to learning in cooperative groups. But not all groups in all classrooms are successful. Passive students who do not participate in the group do not get anything out of group work. Simply observing other students’ work activities and listening to others’ explanations is not sufficient to learn the material (Webb, 1982). Some researchers have studied what makes groups successful. Cooperative groups need to be carefully monitored by teachers (Smagorinsky & Fly, 1994). Smagorinsky and Fly also found that teachers must present students with challenging and appropriate tasks, and offer incentives for working cooperatively. Students who prefer to work on tasks alone need a reason to work together with their classmates. Johnson and Johnson (1999) identified five essential elements for making cooperative group learning successful: positive interdependence (joint rewards, divided resources, and complimentary roles), individual accountability (students held individually accountable to do their share of the work), face-to-face promotive interaction (helping, supporting, encouraging each other), social skills (decision making, conflict resolution, communication, leadership), and group processing (group reflection about what is going well and what is not). They found that students should be assessed both as a group and individually, be encouraged to support each other, practice social skills, and metacognitively reflect on the group process.

 


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Some researchers have suggested ways to accomplish the above cooperative learning conditions. One way to do this is to assign group members specific roles. Cohen (1994) warns that when roles are not assigned, mixed gender groups are often dominated by male group members, not allowing females to participate fully and therefore reap all the benefits of group learning. Maloch (2002) also suggests strategies to promote successful group learning, which include careful scaffolding of discussion techniques by the teacher before group work begins. He recognizes that making the switch from teacher-led discussions to discussions led by students in small groups can be a difficult transition. Modeling and highlighting discussion strategies and recapping, or reflecting on, what happened during discussions prepares students to discuss successfully on their own. Most of the research focuses on cooperative group learning in either math or English classes. History is often taught in a lecture based format, yet lends itself very easily to interesting, productive discussion topics. This research will provide needed information about cooperative group learning in the history classroom. It will also provide information not only on how to equalize participation, but also how to increase meaningful academic discourse at the same time. To date, most studies on cooperative groups have focused on only one issue or the other. We still do not know how to increase participation while also improving student-tostudent discourse in a middle school history classroom. Description of Interventions In order to improve meaningful and equitable student-to-student discourse in cooperative learning groups I implemented a number of interventions. All interventions were implemented using mixed ability groups consisting of four students each. I collected data from each fourperson group in the class, but I closely monitored eight students, four boys and four girls who  


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have demonstrated a range of participation levels in the traditionally organized lecture style classroom to study if their behavior changed or remained the same when placed in cooperative groups. I began by placing students in mixed gender cooperative learning groups and documented participation levels with the absence of any interventions. This served as a starting point and provided baseline data for my research. Next, within the mixed gender groups, I assigned each group member a role. Group roles were as follows: discussion leader (keeps the discussion moving and keeps the group on task), encourager (encourages reluctant students to participate and is a motivator), summarizer (summarizes group’s conclusions and answers throughout discussion), and devil’s advocate (suggests opposing viewpoints or ideas the group has not yet considered). These roles are explained in greater detail in Appendix A. These roles were fashioned after the roles suggested by Smith (1996), and adapted for my students’ needs. I collected data on how group roles effected participation and quality of discourse in mixed gender groups. Finally, within the mixed gender groups I required students to use “accountable talk” strategies (Wolf, Crosson, & Resnick, 2006). These strategies included “linking,” “revoicing,” and “productive questioning.” The students were introduced to these strategies a few days before the intervention took place, and taught the strategies through a model using myself and my cooperating teacher. Please see Appendix B for more details on the accountable talk strategies. I collected data on how accountable talk strategies affected participation and the quality of discourse in mixed gender groups. These three grouping strategies were analyzed individually for level of students’ participation, and then analyzed in comparison to each other, which I explain in the Results and Analysis and Discussion sections below. Students had incentive to perform both their group

 


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roles and utilize accountable talk strategies through the peer grading that took place on the group evaluation form discussed below. As a second phase of intervention I collected data on the success of group roles and accountable talk strategies in gender-alike groupings. Research performed by Streitmatter (1997) shows that girls are more likely to take academic risks, speak out, and ask questions in single-gender classrooms. I collected data on how this gender variable effected participation and quality of discourse in cooperative group learning. By completing this second phase I was able to assess the benefits and limitations of different strategies to promote student-to-student discourse and participation in cooperative learning groups. I can also fairly accurately judge the role gender grouping plays on these factors in cooperative groups in my classroom. In summary, there were 6 intervention iterations: 1. Mixed gender groups (no specific interaction instructions) 2. Mixed gender (group roles intervention) 3. Mixed gender (accountable talk strategies intervention) 4. Gender-alike intervention (no specific interaction instructions) 5. Gender-alike (group roles intervention) 6. Gender-alike (accountable talk strategies intervention) Because the students were not used to interacting in groups, I expected that as students gained more practice, their participation and quality of discourse would naturally increase incrementally. Intervention Rationale The above interventions were designed based on my review of the literature, my own experiences in cooperative learning groups, and my observations of my students. I chose to  


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perform the same interventions on both gender-alike and mixed ability groups to effectively determine the importance of gender grouping. My work was predicted on two major hypotheses: 1) discussion strategies (group roles and accountable talk strategies) will increase equitable participation and meaningful student-to-student discourse, and 2) placing students in singlegender groups will increase equitable participation and meaningful student-to-student discourse. If the mixed gender groups have similar success when using discussion roles or accountable talk strategies as the gender-alike groups, it will suggest that the effects of gender grouping may not be a significant factor in understanding student to student discourse and participation. If the mixed gender groups and single gender groups have different outcomes, the single gender arrangement will be shown to have an impact on level and quality of participation and discourse. If gender significantly impacts student-to-student discourse, it would be important to recognize how this occurs and to understand how to develop strategies to address or ameliorate the consequences so strategies aside from placing students in gender-alike groups to improve performance can be studied. Streitmatter (1997) and others advocate that gender arrangements are the primary strategy to enhance educational outcomes. Understanding how mixed groups can achieve similar or enhanced outcomes by implementing teaching strategies can add to the conversation about single sex education. My second hypothesis was related to group interventions strategies – assigning group roles and teaching accountable talk strategies. I suspected that if I included these strategies they would mollify the effect of gender in cooperative learning groups. If group roles or accountable talk strategies rendered the greatest participation and meaningful discourse, it may be possible to conclude that gender separation is less important than discussion strategies that are built in to support participation and meaningful discourse. However, if participation and meaningful  


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discourse were more frequent in all the interventions using gender-alike groupings, my research will support the work of Streitmatter and others who deem gender as the most important factor in cooperative group learning. I considered a variety of potential complications that could affect the cooperative learning groups including: differences in ability, differences in motivation, specific students who are unable to get along with each other, etc. Being aware of these complicating factors, I carefully chose the groupings to include students of varied levels of ability and motivation. I also ensured that students who I know cannot work together were not placed in the same group. This allowed me to minimize the complications and maintain the highest degree of consistency across each of the interventions, allowing me to effectively isolate the impact of the independent variables. I chose to focus on group roles and accountable talk strategies because these are both interventions that research has suggested have the potential of supporting students with the procedural knowledge as to how to improve discussions in a group setting. The intention was that by scaffolding students to follow certain procedures during discussion, they would eventually be able to internalize these discussion norms and follow them without prescribed roles or talk rules. Although this study did not look at the aspect of sustainability in cooperative group learning behaviors, the topic may make for another interesting study that focuses on transfer of knowledge. Before beginning my study, I expected that my interventions would have an impact. I expected that girls would have more meaningful and equitable student-to-student talk in the gender-alike groupings. Many of the males in my classroom were loud and dominant, and I thought this might be contributing to the lack of participation I see from at least some of my female students. I also expected that in both gender-alike and mixed gender groups the students  


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would dislike the accountable talk strategies. But, I also thought the accountable talk strategies would facilitate the most meaningful student-to-student discourse because they would force students to truly listen to each other, consider each others’ ideas, respond directly to each other, and think critically. I thought the discussion roles would be favored by students and would create the most equitable discourse. I thought the students would benefit from and appreciate having a specific role and a clear understanding of what was expected of them. I predicted the roles would be the easiest way to ensure all students participate equally.

I anticipated possible

changes that would need to be made from during my interventions. I kept the groups of four the same throughout the gender-alike interventions, and then again for the mixed gender interventions. I anticipated that I may have to make a few changes to the groups along the way. Because of lack of experience in cooperative learning groups, I could not anticipate how certain students would react to one another. I observed the groups carefully in the first few interventions, looking for students that simply could not work together, but I did not have to change any groupings. Data Collection Methods I collected data in a variety of ways. Before any interventions were implemented I gave students a survey that used Likert scales to measure students’ affect about different aspects of group work. Students then explained their answers in short paragraphs. Survey questions asked about students’ levels of participation and comfort in groups. The survey also asked students if their peers listened to them and if they tried to help their group members. I then gave a similar affective survey at the conclusion of the study to track changes in student perception of group work through the use of the various interventions. See Appendix C for the pre-study survey, and Appendix D for the post-study survey.  


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During the group discussions I recorded the eight students that I pre-selected with digital audio recorders. These eight students were specifically chosen to serve as a representative sample of the class as a whole. I observed the students throughout my time with them as a student teacher during individual work, class discussions, and peer interaction, and chose students who represented a variety of ability, motivation, and participation levels. I then transcribed five minutes of their discussions during each group activity and evaluated their effectiveness as measured by who spoke, length of contribution, and quality of contribution. I then calculated each group’s amount of positive talk and negative talk. Discourse was considered positive talk if a student said something that positively contributed to the discussion, such as introducing a new topic, inviting a group member to participate, using an accountable talk strategy, or advancing understanding of the content. Discourse was considered negative talk if a student engaged in off topic talk, interrupted a group member, or put a group member or idea down. See Appendix E for the transcription guide and a list of all possible types of positive and negative talk. I had the students evaluate themselves and their peers at the close of every group discussion. They rated themselves and their group members on a scale from one to four. The grading guide for the peer evaluation was as follows: A group member earned one point if they did not participate, listen, distracted the group or engaged in off-task behavior, and made it hard to learn; a group member earned two points if they participated a little and listened sometimes; a group member earned three points if they participated most of the time and listened well; a group member earned four points if they consistently participated and listened, and helped other group members. Additional scoring guidelines were added depending on the intervention. For example, during the group roles intervention whether or not a student performed the duties of  


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their group role factored into their score. Students also reflected on the group discussion and the intervention method used. See Appendix F for the group evaluation form. Finally, I kept informal observation notes during each of the interventions. I recorded my overall thoughts on level of student participation and interest, quality of discourse, and effectiveness of group work. These notes and reactions were recorded as reflections of my general impressions on level of participation and meaningful discourse at the end of each of the interventions. Because of my dual role of teacher and researcher, this allowed me to both facilitate the groups during class, while still recording my thoughts and observations directly after class. Rationale for Data Collection Methods My data collections methods were chosen to ensure triangulation of data through informal observations, audio recordings of discussions, and student feedback on peer evaluation forms. The affective survey gives me information on how students feel about group work and their own level of participation when working and discussing in cooperative learning groups. By comparing a pre-study survey with a post-study survey, I am able to evaluate a change in student attitude as a result of the various interventions. Aside from assessing change of attitude toward group work, I designed this research to assess an actual change in student performance. I measured this by the audio recordings of group discussions to determine quality of discourse produced by each grouping organization. The recordings provide concrete evidence of what actually took place during each discussion, allowing me to evaluate the level of meaningful and equitable student-to-student discourse resulting from each intervention. By transcribing the audio recordings of student discussions and

 


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comparing them across interventions, I can measure any change that occurs in quality of discourse and level of participation. Finally, the peer evaluation forms were used for three main reasons. Research shows that students work most effectively in groups when they are assessed on the effectiveness of the group as a whole, and their individual contributions (Slavin, 1987). The peer grading helped motivate students to participate in order to receive a good grade from their peers. The peer evaluation form also allowed students to self-assess and reflect on ways they could make their group more successful. This metacognition of the process is an important step for students on the path to improvement and growth. Finally, it allowed me to study how the students viewed the success of each of the interventions, an important variable to consider when comparing successes and failures of the different grouping organizations. After each intervention, the evaluation form was modified slightly to get feedback on student perception of the effects of each intervention. When combined with the actual data on what happened from the transcriptions, this information gave me a full picture on the success of each intervention.

 


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Implementation Summary Chart Week April 13-17

Intervention ‡Pre study affective survey ‡0L[HGJHQGHUGDWD collection

April 20-24 April 27-May 1

No action research interventions ‡0Lxed gender group roles ‡7HDFKDFFRXQWDEOH talk strategies

May 4-8 May 11-15

May 18-22

Lesson Topic

‡0L[HGJHQGHU accountable talk strategies ‡*HQGHU-alike intervention

Data Collection Methods ‡Survey

‡Analyzing different perspectives on slavery

‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes

‡ Geographic, economic, and cultural differences in the North and South

‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes

‡([SODQDWLRQPRGHO discussion, and student identification of strategies ‡ Analyzing Civil War songs ‡$QDO\]LQJLPDJHVRI emancipation of slaves

‡Gender-alike group roles

‡(YDOXDWLQJGLIIHUHQW Reconstruction plans

‡*HQGHU-alike accountable talk strategies ‡3RVW-study survey

‡([DPLQLQJ-LP&URZ laws and the Ku Klux Klan

‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes ‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes ‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes ‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes ‡Survey

Phase 1: Mixed Gender Groupings Pre-study Survey Before beginning my study I had the students complete the Pre-Study Survey. This survey was meant to gauge students’ overall attitudes on group work and their individual participation levels during group work. Because I had only witnessed the students in groups one time before the beginning of my study, the survey provided necessary information about the students’ affect regarding group work. The majority (21) of students agreed with the statement  


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“I like working in groups.” The next most popular answer was strongly agree (10). Two students disagreed to liking group work, and one student strongly disagreed. When asked what their favorite thing about working in a group was, most students talked about getting more ideas, helping each other out, and working with friends. Here are some representative responses: x x x x

“We share our opinions and try to understand it better.” Enrique “I can get other ideas when I’m stuck.” Diamond “It’s fun and you actually get work done with your friends.” Emari “You have more information about the thing that you need to work on or you have more ideas about it.” Gennia

Most responses about students’ least favorite things about working in groups included unequal participation, not getting to work with their friends, and a lack of cooperation within the group. Here are some representative responses: x x x x x

“Some people just mess around while the rest are doing the work.” Aura “I don’t like when I am in a group that doesn’t work together and gets nothing done.” Enrique “I don’t like being paired with people that I don’t know, or not any of my friends.” Jerel “You might not like the people in your group.” Michael “I don’t like when I do all the work and my group does nothing.” Josh The majority of students (23) agreed that when in a group they participate as much as

their other group members. Seven students strongly agreed, while five students either disagreed or strongly disagreed. When asked why they do or don’t participate, the overwhelming majority of students said they participate to get a good grade. Most students who do not participate do so because they don’t like their group members or don’t know the answers. Here are some common and notable answers: x x x x x  

“I don’t participate when there are people in my group that I do NOT like.” Alex H. “I participate sometimes when I’m sure I know the answer or have an idea.” Jenny V. “I contribute when I know something, that’s it.” Xavier “I like to participate because [my group members] can use my ideas.” Enrique “I participate because I like to get good grades.” Josh


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The majority of students (18) agreed that they felt comfortable sharing their ideas in a discussion. Nine students, however, disagreed with the statement. One student strongly disagreed and five students strongly agreed. Each of the answer options were evenly split between boys and girls, in other words, there was no trend by gender. Common reasons students did feel comfortable sharing were that they knew they were adding more ideas to the group and helping out, and that they would not be criticized. x x x x

“No one is going to say anything bad about what I said.” Kathleen “I feel comfortable because I usually know what I’m talking about.” Chelsea “I feel comfortable because I’m adding more details to the work and my group members can get an idea from it.” Antonio “Maybe my answers will help.” Aura

Most students who did not feel comfortable sharing felt so because they don’t want to “sound dumb” if they get the wrong answer. x x x x

“I don’t like sharing because I might have the wrong answer.” Jenny L. “I’m not good at sharing ideas.” Matt “I don’t like sharing ideas because some people can say they are dumb.” Nixie “I don’t want to sound stupid.” Jeremy When asked if they think their group members listen to them when working in a group,

the majority of students (17) agreed, and four students strongly agreed. However, eleven students disagreed with the statement. Again, there was no substantial trend by gender in answering this question. Overwhelmingly the students said that they knew if their group members were listening to them if they were looking at them (eye contact), and responding back to what they said. Finally, the majority of students (20) agreed that they try to help their group members understand and do well on the assignment when in groups, with six students strongly agreeing. It is interesting to note that the four students who either disagreed or strongly disagreed with this

 


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statement are all girls. However, their explanations do not give any indication of why they do not help their peers. All the other responses were again split equally between the genders. When asked what kinds of things they do to help each other, most students said they try to help their peers understand, show them what to do, and that they do so because they know it will affect their grade on the group project. Representative responses include: x x x x x

“When someone does not get something I do things step by step with them to help them understand.” Josh “I explain it more than once.” Adryan “I try to give them some examples and others could do the same.” Alex T. “I can tell them my ideas and help people if they’re stuck and I want people to do the same to me.” Aaron “I help cause it is part of my grade sometimes so if they do bad then I do bad, so I have to help them so we can both get good grades.” Jonathan G.

Overall, the study revealed to me that the majority of students like group work, feel comfortable sharing ideas, try to participate and help others, and are listened to by their peers. Initial Mixed Gender Grouping Before performing any interventions I wanted to collect data on the students’ level of participation and meaningful discourse while in groups without any interaction instructions. I placed the students in mixed gender, mixed ability groups of four. These groups remained the same for all the mixed gender groupings. Throughout the study, while in groups, students sat in tables of four facing each other. The lesson for this day had the students reading about and recording different perspectives on slavery from various abolitionists during the early to mid 1800’s. The students then had to compose a short paragraph answering the following question: If you were a white person in the 1800’s, would you become an abolitionist, speak out against slavery, and/or try to help slaves gain freedom? Why or why not? (Please see Appendix G for lesson plan and materials) Each table was given 4 reading packets, and each student had to fill

 


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out their own graphic organizer and write their own paragraph. Although this assignment could have been completed by the students individually, my assumption was that given the option to work together to discuss the best answers, they would do so. The students were not given any interaction instructions. The only group expectation given by the teacher was that the students were allowed to work together, as long as they each turned in their own worksheet. They were reminded that a few groups would be recorded for research purposes, and that the recordings would not be used in any way for grading purposes. Results The results of the initial grouping were very interesting. Overall, the students did not work together in their groups. Here is an excerpt from my research journal: Very few groups engaged in any sort of discussion involving the task. The class was more quiet today than they have been in weeks! There was one group that I think did not say one word to each other the entire time. The data from the audio recording confirmed my observations. During minutes 2-7 of the recording, Group 1 had only 30 seconds of positive talk, and 95 seconds of negative talk (see the transcription guide in Appendix F for explanations of positive and negative talk). The remaining 3 minutes and 55 seconds they were silent. The two girls and one of the boys in Group 1 spoke three times each, while one boy only spoke once. Group 2’s results were even more extreme. During minutes 2-7 they had only 9 seconds of positive talk and 10 seconds of negative talk. They were silent for the remainder of the five minutes. In Group 2, one boy spoke 3 times, one boy spoke once, and neither of the girls spoke at all. (See the graphs on page 50 for a visual representation of positive versus negative talk) I also noted in my research journal that the design of the lesson may have had something to do with the lack of cooperative group work:  


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Because there were 4 different sheets the students had to read, I think they simply took turns with each one and passed them around the group, reading and writing about each sheet individually without discussing with each other. Maybe if I would have stapled the 4 sheets together they would have had to share and talk more (or they would simply rip them apart). Because the students were given no real incentive to work on the assignment cooperatively, almost all students opted to work on it by themselves. Furthermore, I noted a change in their perception about group work in general: When I introduced my research and told them they would be doing group work, they all seemed really excited. Today as they walked in, I told them which table group to go to. It seems that when they realized they were not placed with their friends they no longer liked group work. At the end of class a few students asked me if we would be doing this tomorrow. I told them no, and they said, “Good!” They really don’t seem to like working with people that aren’t their friends! It is important to keep in mind that this is one of the first times these students have worked in groups of any kind – teacher selected or student selected – in this class. The above observation from my research journal prompted me to closely follow the students’ affect about group work throughout the study. Observation/Analysis This initial grouping provided very useful information for my research project and effectively validated the need for my study in this classroom. This initial grouping can also provide useful information to teachers who think group work alone helps students learn. The students were not given any incentive to work together, proving that just throwing students in groups does not mean they will interact. My prediction after this initial grouping was that the addition of the group roles, peer evaluations, and collection of only one worksheet per group that was planned for each intervention would cause the students to participate more meaningfully and equitably.

 


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Mixed Gender Group Roles The first intervention I performed was to give the students assigned roles in mixed gender groupings to evaluate if they would help equalize participation and contribute to the quality of discourse. I kept the students in the same mixed gender groups they were placed in initially and I assigned each group member one of four roles – discussion leader, summarizer, encourager, or devil’s advocate. The lesson for the day focused on the geographic, economic, and cultural differences between the North and South. The students had to first view a chart of differences and draw a symbol representing each characteristic described. Then, the group had to answer 5 questions evaluating the effects of the differences (see Appendix H for lesson plan and materials). After a brief introduction, I explained each of the four group roles to ensure all students understood the purpose and responsibility of each role. I then explained the peer evaluation form in which the students would grade both themselves and their group members at the end of class. Finally, I explained the expectations for the assignment. I made it clear that every student needed to fill out a worksheet, but at the end of class I would come around to each table and collect only one student’s worksheet which would serve as the grade for the whole group. Each student’s grade was based on the worksheet and their peer evaluation score, so they were held accountable both to the group and to themselves. I also explained to the students that for the first 5 minutes they would not be allowed to write, they could discuss only. This was meant to ensure that the students had a strong start to their discussion. Results The results from the mixed gender group roles were much different than from the initial recording. Overall, the students participated more and engaged in a higher level of discourse. Here is an excerpt from my research journal:  


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      27    

Overall, this intervention was much more successful for increasing participation, but I am not yet sure its effect on the quality of discourse. I heard kids trying to use the roles. I also heard some students making fun of the roles (I expected this). The data from the audio recordings showed vast improvements in both amount of meaningful discourse and in level of participation over the initial grouping. During minutes 2-7 of the recording Group 1 had 2 minutes and 20 seconds of positive talk, almost a minute more than the initial recording. They also had only 20 seconds of negative talk. It is interesting to note that the girls in Group 1 did almost all of the talking – one girl (discussion leader) spoke 16 times, while the other (encourager) spoke 14 times. One of the boys (devil’s advocate) spoke 5 times and the other boy (summarizer) did not speak at all. Group 2’s results showed a less marked improvement over the initial recording. During minutes 2-7 they had 32 seconds of positive talk and 21 seconds of negative talk. There was still a lot of silence in this group, possibly indicating a lot of individual work. The boy who assumed the role of discussion leader spoke 3 times, while the other boy (summarizer) spoke 2 times. The girl who was the devil’s advocate spoke 2 times, while the other girl (encourager) spoke only 1 time. In addition, I noted in my research journal that the students seemed to like this group arrangement more: Students enjoyed this activity more than the groups without roles. They did not complain, they were smiling, they had more to say, and they had better energy. I additionally noted what I thought contributed to overall increased participation: I collected only 1 worksheet from each group giving them more incentive to work together and help each other out. This with the peer evaluation did a lot to influence participation. Additionally, I had data from the questions asked on the peer evaluation forms. The final question read, “Do you think the group roles helped in your discussion today? Why or why

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      28    

not?” Twenty students thought they helped, while twelve thought they did not help. Most of the students who said the roles helped attributed it to understanding what they had to do in the discussion and helping each other out: x x x

“They helped because we helped each other out when we were confused or stuck.” Jenny V. “They helped because it gave us an idea on how to act.” Viviana “We were all organized.” Josh The twelve students who did not think the roles helped stated that they either didn’t use

them or didn’t need them: x x x

They didn’t really help because I don’t think people paid attention to it.” Adryan They didn’t really help because it would have been the same thing if we didn’t get the roles.” Alex T. The roles didn’t really help because we didn’t really use them that much.” Jenny L.

Observations/Analysis Assigning group roles had an overall positive effect on participation and quality of discourse. Although the overall amount of participation increased, the participation within groups was still notably unequal. In Group 1 two members dominated the conversation, while Group 2 maintained a more even level of participation. The amount a student participated cannot be linked to what role they played, excluding the discussion leader, who in both groups spoke the most. The group roles did have a notable effect on the quality of discourse as both groups showed increased amounts of positive talk. It is important to note that the addition of three elements to the group work also played a role in increased participation and quality of discourse: the students held a straight discussion, without the distraction of writing, for 5 minutes; I only collected one worksheet per group, providing incentive to work together to arrive at the best answers; and the students had a chance to grade each other on their participation and fulfillment of the duties of their roles.  


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As evidenced on the peer evaluation responses, the students really seemed to like the structure the group roles provided. I noted a similar idea in my research journal: I think the roles gave students a goal and a focus to their discussion. As expected, some students were reluctant to use the roles, and therefore did not have a chance to see the benefit in them. This reluctance might change over time if students are given more support to use the roles in ways that effectively lead to better achievement outcomes. This would require further research where students could practice group roles over an extended period of time. Mixed Gender Accountable Talk Strategies The second intervention performed required the groups to employ accountable talk strategies during discussion in their mixed gender groupings. I again kept the students in the same mixed gender groups. I taught the students the three accountable talk strategies – linking, revoicing, and productive questioning – two days before the second group intervention. I first briefly described each of the strategies, then had students read and understand them with their pair-share partner so they could put them in their own words to explain them. Students were then called on to explain each strategy to the class. Next, my cooperating teacher and I modeled a discussion, as the students read along to a transcribed version of the discussion. After the discussion, the class as a whole identified where in the discussion specific strategies were used (see Appendix I for the transcribed discussion annotated with the strategies). At the close of the lesson I felt that the students understood the strategies very well and could successfully identify them. I wrote in my research journal: It went so well! The students understood the strategies really well and identified almost all of the places they were used. Everyone was listening and there was a lot of participation.

 


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In the lesson for the second intervention the students analyzed different Civil War songs. Before explaining the lesson I reviewed the accountable talk strategies with the students. I then reviewed the peer evaluation form, pointing out that in order to get a high score they would need to use the accountable talk strategies. I also made one change in the peer evaluation form – I added a column next to the score where I required students to explain why they were giving the score they were giving. I did this so the students would more carefully consider the scores they were assigning their peers. I also reminded the students that I would again only be collecting one worksheet from each group. Then I explained the assignment and the students got to work (see Appendix J for lesson plan and materials). Results Overall, the accountable talk strategies in mixed gender groupings did not elicit meaningful discourse or participation. I remarked in my research journal: Today was not as successful as I hoped. The students were very engaged during the teaching of the accountable talk strategies and they knew them very well. However, walking around today, I did not hear one strategy being used! The data from the audio recordings paints a similar picture. During minutes 2-7 Group 1 had 1 minute and 47 seconds of positive talk, and only six seconds of negative talk. However, during this time, no accountable talk strategies were used. One of the male students spoke 5 times, while the other spoke only 1 time. One of the girls spoke 6 times and the other spoke 4 times. Group 2’s results are more extreme. During minutes 2-7 they have 44 seconds of positive talk and 1 minute and 14 seconds of negative talk. Again, no accountable talk strategies are used. One male student dominated the conversation, speaking 10 times, while the other male spoke 1 time. One female spoke 2 times, and the other spoke 1 time. Both groups seemed to

 


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lack a leader that was willing to take charge and get the conversation started, and both groups struggled to stay on task. The responses on the peer evaluation forms surprised me and complicate the data. In answer to the question, “Do you think the accountable talk strategies helped in your discussion today? Why or why not?” thirteen students answered no, while 18 students answered yes. Every student that answered no said they did not use the accountable talk strategies, with only two students explaining why they weren’t used. x x x x

“They were not helpful because we did not use them.” Michael “No, they didn’t help. I didn’t use them in the group discussion.” Emari “No, they didn’t really help because it would get awkward anyway.” Alex T. “No, they didn’t help because it made it harder for us to talk.” Alex H.

The students who said they helped gave a variety of reasons: x x x x x x

“They did help because they make us talk to each other and start a conversation.” Ranializa “They helped me understand.” Jenny V. “They helped get organized in conversations.” Genesis “They helped because I looked at them for guidance to talk about the subject.” Josh “They helped. It made the conversation more interesting.” Ashley “They helped me understand things more.” Jerel

Although my observation that the strategies were not used was agreed upon by about half the class, the other half seemed to perceive a benefit to them. Observations/Analysis The data on the effectiveness of accountable talk strategies in mixed gender groups is unclear and inconclusive. Although not evidenced on the recordings, according to the peer evaluation comments, some students found guidance in the strategies and were able to use them to advance their discussions. However, about half of the class did not use the strategies. I think there are a number of reasons this may have been the case. Although the students were engaged  


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in the teaching of the accountable talk strategies and able to identify them in a conversation, being able to notice a strategy and being able to use a strategy are two very different tasks. One does not automatically lead to the other. I also think the students perceived the strategies as an unnatural way to talk, and therefore did not try them. In my research journal I acknowledged their potentially awkward nature: I know the accountable talk strategies are awkward – they might work better for an activity that is only discussion (not discussion and writing). This comment brings up another possible issue. I believe the students may have been overwhelmed by the multiple tasks in the assignment. They had to analyze and interpret three Civil War songs that they had never heard before, discuss with their group, write their answers on the worksheet, and try to use three separate accountable talk strategies for the first time. The strategies may have been more effective and easy to employ if they were asked to focus on only one and really work on incorporating that strategy into discussion. Phase 2: Gender-Alike Groupings Same Gender Initial Grouping My Phase 2 interventions involved placing the students in new, same gender groupings to try to determine the role gender plays in equitable participation and quality of discourse. For the first gender-alike intervention, I placed students in four person groups that contained all boys or all girls. These groups stayed the same throughout the gender-alike interventions. In an effort to keep some group continuity, I left the girls in each group together and the boys in each group together. These gender-alike pairs were then paired up with 2 girls or 2 boys from another group. For this intervention the students were given no interaction instructions (no group roles or accountable talk strategies were required). This was done to isolate the role gender plays in

 


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groupings. However, the students did still fill out peer evaluations, and I only collected one worksheet from each group, which again kept them accountable to themselves and to their group members. In the lesson for this day I began by reading and analyzing the Emancipation Proclamation with the class as a whole, to ensure everyone understood the document’s meaning. Then, in groups, students viewed two different images drawn by Thomas Nast – one drawn right after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and one drawn two years later. The students then discussed and answered 3 questions for each of the images. I again required the groups to discuss only for 5 minutes straight before they could begin writing. (see Appendix K for lesson plan and materials) Results The first gender-alike grouping was very successful in generating positive talk and equitable participation. Both myself and my cooperating teacher felt that this was the most successful grouping yet. Here is an excerpt from my research journal: Overall, I was very pleased with the group interactions. I observed the most on task behavior for this grouping than any other. It will be interesting to see if this grouping brings about the most meaningful discourse (my prediction is it does). Grace [my cooperating teacher] said that this was the best grouping she had observed yet and agreed that they were really on task and involved in the assignment. The data from the audio recording confirms my observation. During minutes 2-7, the Female Group had 1 minute and 44 seconds of positive talk, and no instances of negative talk. One of the girls was absent from the group, one spoke 15 times, one spoke 8 times, and the other spoke 7 times. For the girl who spoke 8 times in particular, she made a great leap in participation compared to the mixed gender grouping. During the three mixed gender groupings she only spoke twice in total. The gender-alike grouping improved her participation by four  


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      34    

times. The Male Group’s results were not as conclusive. During minutes 2-7 they had 40 seconds of positive talk and 8 second of negative talk. This group had long periods of silence. One boy spoke 6 times, another 4 times, another 1 time, and the final boy did not speak. Three of the focus group boys either showed no change or increased participation in the gender-alike grouping, except for the boy who did not speak, whose participation level dropped compared to the mixed gender groupings. The responses on the peer evaluation forms painted an interesting picture. When asked, “Do you think being in a same-gender group helped in your discussion today? Why or why not?” there was a clear difference in male responses and female responses. The males were split on this issue, with 8 saying it did help and 9 saying it didn’t help. The boys that said it helped cited the fact that it was easier to talk and that they got to work with their friends: x x x

“It helped cause we’re all friends.” Antonio “It was easier to talk to each other, so I guess it kind of helped.” Jonathan G. “It kind of helped. It was easier to talk to each other.” Jerel The boys that did not think the gender-alike grouping helped in the discussion

commented that it didn’t affect their group performance: x x x

“It didn’t really do anything.” Chris “It doesn’t matter.” Joseph “It didn’t really help that much because I can talk freely between any gender.” Alex T. The girls who thought the gender-alike groupings helped cited similar reasons as the

boys: x x x

 

“It did help. It was easier to talk.” Nixie “It helped because we get along.” Jenny L. It did help because it makes it easy to talk.” Viviana


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      35    

The girls who did not think the gender-alike groupings helped either did not think the grouping made a difference, or found working with other girls a distraction because of the temptation to get off task: x x x

“They didn’t help because we gossip about people.” Ranializa “They didn’t help. It was all the same.” Chelsea “They didn’t help because we just gossiped.” Jasmine It is interesting to note that of the girls who did not think the gender-alike groups helped,

four of them were in the same group. From their comments we can infer that they got off task during the group work. Only two girls outside that group did not think the gender-alike groupings helped. Observations/Analysis Although the affects of this intervention on the male students is not totally clear, the data from both the audio recordings and the peer evaluations show that for most girls, the genderalike groupings had a notable impact in both equitable participation and meaningful discourse. My personal observation was that the whole class was more on task during this intervention than during any of the previous iterations. I did note one caveat in my research journal: I wonder if [the added participation] has anything to do with the actual assignment. Today they were analyzing two visuals and this always seems to be more engaging for them than text. I have observed throughout the semester that the students show special interest when they are asked to interpret visuals, so this may have played a role in the added participation and on task behavior. Same Gender Group Roles The second intervention in Phase 2 was to give the students assigned group roles within the gender-alike groupings. The four roles employed remained the same – discussion leader,  


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summarizer, encourager, and devil’s advocate. I again assigned the roles to the students based on what I thought would be best for both the individual student and the group as a whole. When possible I tried to assign the student the same role they were assigned in the mixed gender grouping, but due to the mix up of groups, some students’ roles changed. I began the lesson for the day by reviewing the previous day’s information regarding the end of the Civil War. I then explained the concept of Reconstruction and gave an example of President Lincoln’s Reconstruction plan. Next, I explained the assignment they would be completing (please see Appendix L for lesson plan and materials). After this, I had the students remind each other of the duties of each of the group roles, and ensured that everyone knew their role for the day. I also informed them that they would again be completing a peer evaluation, that I would only collect one worksheet, and that they could not write (only discuss) for the first 5 minutes of work time. The groups were then released to get to work. Results The results of the group roles in gender-alike groupings were mixed. I felt lukewarm about it in my research journal: Overall, this wasn’t the best grouping. I observed a fair amount of off-task behavior. However, some of the answers on the worksheets were very well thought out. The data from the audio recordings gives a slightly more positive result. During minutes 2-7 the Female Group had 1 minute and 32 seconds of positive talk. This was slightly less than during the last intervention. However, they again had no instances of negative talk. One girl (summarizer) spoke 9 times, another (discussion leader) 8 times, another (encourager) 3 times, and one girl (devil’s advocate) did not speak. Only one student, the discussion leader, was consciously performing the duties of her role. During minutes 2-7 the Male Group had 53

 


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seconds of positive talk which was a slight improvement from the last intervention. They also had 14 seconds of negative talk. One of the boys (encourager) spoke 3 times, another (devil’s advocate) spoke 2 times, another (summarizer) spoke 2 times, and one boy (discussion leader) did not speak. None of the boys were consciously performing the duties of their roles. It again appears that the data from the audio recording does not point to one role that yields the most participation over another. The responses on the peer evaluation forms were mixed. Fourteen students thought the group roles helped in the discussion, while 20 students thought they did not help. Those who thought they helped stated that they either helped the students communicate, or helped keep the group on task: x x x

“They always help because it helps us communicate easier.” Viviana “They helped. They kept us on track.” Cameron “Using the group roles makes us talk.” Ranializa The students who did not think the group roles helped in the gender-alike groups stated

that they either didn’t use the roles or didn’t like their individual role: x x x

“They didn’t help. We didn’t use them.” Emari “They didn’t really help because I don’t like being the discussion leader.” Jerel “They didn’t really help because we didn’t use them.” Aaron As with the last group role intervention, there was some resistance to using the roles,

causing some students to not see the benefit to them. No students articulated why they did not use the roles, so no definite conclusion can be made on this point. Observations/Analysis The data suggest that the group roles did not play a large role in equitable participation and meaningful discourse during this intervention. However, both the boys and girls in the focus groups engaged in relatively high levels of positive talk with relatively low levels of negative  


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talk (none in the case of the Female Group). It can then be inferred that the continued level of participation and positive talk should be attributed to the gender-alike groupings and not to the assigned group roles. Same Gender Accountable Talk Strategies The final intervention in the gender-alike groupings and in the research project as a whole was accountable talk strategies in gender-alike groups. This day’s lesson started with a review of content from yesterday’s lesson including the Freedman’s Bureau and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. I then reviewed the accountable talk strategies with the students. After going over what each of them meant, I gave a sample comment and asked students to reply with either a linking, revoicing, or productive question comment. This was done to ensure their understanding of the strategies while providing the students examples and practice in using the strategies. Next, I went over the logistics of the group assignment – peer evaluation and discussion for five minutes straight. Because this particular assignment contained a writing component, I informed the students that I would be collecting worksheets from each student, but still grading the first 3 tasks (see assignment) on only one group members’ responses. Their grade on this assignment would derive from the score from one group member’s assignment on tasks 1-3, their individual score for the writing assignment in task 4, and the peer evaluations. This was done to provide an incentive to work together, while still rewarding students for individual effort. Finally, I went over the assignment with the students (please see Appendix M for lesson plan and materials).

 


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Results The accountable talk strategy in gender-alike groupings was the least successful intervention in Phase 2 in eliciting meaningful discourse and participation. Here is an excerpt from my research journal: Overall, it seemed to go okay. I still don’t think the students used the strategies much at all. The data from the audio recordings clearly shows a drop in participation and in meaningful discourse for both the Female and Male Group. During minutes 2-7 the Female Group had only 15 seconds of positive talk and 28 seconds of negative talk. One girl spoke 2 times, another spoke once, and the two remaining girls did not speak. No accountable talk strategies were used. During minutes 2-7 the Male Group had 18 seconds of positive talk and 28 seconds of negative talk. One boy spoke five times, one spoke twice, and the two other boys did not speak. For both the Female and Male groups this was the least successful grouping because both groups engaged in more negative than positive talk and showed very little participation. While the data from the audio recordings seems very clear, the responses on the peer evaluation forms do not corroborate the data. When asked, “Do you think the accountable talk strategies helped in your discussion today? Why or why not?” a surprising 21 students said yes, while 10 students said no. Those who thought they did help said they helped their groups both communicate and understand the content better: x x x x

“They kind of did help because they brought a lot of conversation and ideas.” Kristal “They did help because we communicated easier.” Viviana “They helped because they help us understand what we’re talking about more.” Kathleen “They helped us get ideas.” Jonathan G. The students who did not think they helped equated a lack of conversation to the failure

of the accountable talk strategies:  


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x x x

“They didn’t help because today we didn’t talk that much.” Enrique “They didn’t help. We barely talked.” Jordan “They didn’t help. We didn’t talk.” Chelsea

Observations/Analysis The data for the accountable talk strategies in gender-alike groups is confusing. Although the audio recordings show a failed intervention, over half the class perceived that the accountable talk strategies helped in their discussions. Some students seemed to turn to the strategies when they were confused or had a lag in conversation and found them helpful. Conversely, some groups barely communicated at all. I wonder if because of the difficulty with accountable talk strategies during the previous intervention, some groups decided not to bother trying them or discussing at all. In my research journal I again note that three strategies may be too many for the students: Three strategies at once may be too much and I should focus on one strategy at a time. This would provide more scaffolding. Post-Study Survey At the close of the study I had the students fill out a post-study survey. I wanted to track how their perception of group work had changed throughout the research project, and gauge their overall feelings on each of the interventions implemented. Just like the pre-study survey, the students were first asked if they like working in groups. The majority of students (21) agreed, while six strongly agreed. Eight students disagreed and no students strongly disagreed. The exact same number of students (21) agreed they liked working in groups before and after the study. However, fewer students strongly agreed and more students disagreed. This shows that for a small number of students, the study made them dislike working in groups more than they previously had. Among the focus group of 8 students, 2 students changed their answers from

 


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agreeing to like working in groups in the pre-study survey, to disagreeing in the post-study survey. All the other focus group students agreed with the statement on both surveys. When asked what makes a group successful, most students stated that all members of the group need to work together and participate: x x x x

“A group is successful if we stay on the subject, work together, and share ideas.” Phuong “A group is successful when people in a group participate, and when my group mates are working hard.” Ranializa “A group is successful when each person gives ideas so everyone will have all these good ideas to put down.” Jonathan G. “A group is successful if we all participate and help each other out.” Jerel

When asked what makes a group unsuccessful, most students cited a lack of participation among group members and off task behavior: x x x x

“A group is unsuccessful when we get off task and talk about a totally different topic.” Michael “A group is unsuccessful when no one participates or talks to each other and won’t get ideas from other people.” Jonathan G. “A group is unsuccessful when the group gets off task.” Alex H. “A group is unsuccessful when people don’t talk in the group and all they do is talk about something off subject.” Diamond When asked if the group roles helped in discussion, the class was quite split. A majority

(15) agreed, while 12 students disagreed. Seven students strongly disagreed, and only 1 student strongly agreed. It is interesting to note that 3 of the focus group students strongly disagreed with the statement, meaning they made up about half of all students who strongly disagreed. Their attitude towards the group roles may have been a factor in their success (or lack of) in using the group roles. When asked why the group roles did or didn’t help, most students that thought they helped said the roles provided organization. The roles also seemed to provide comfort for students because they were clear on their duties during the discussion: x x  

“The roles helped me because it showed me what I should do.” Phuong “I think they helped organize the discussion a little bit more.” Jordan


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x x

“The roles made me have my own part to say, everyone did. It made me discuss and participate more often.” Jerel “I do think they helped because I know when I am supposed to come in.” Xavier

Most of the students that did not think the roles helped said they either did not use the roles or that they did not like the specific role they were assigned: x x x x

“I just don’t think anyone really uses them.” Viviana “It’s really not helpful and most people don’t do it.” Jonathan F. “Some people may not be good at their role.” Jacob “No one follows them and everyone has their own things to say and the roles take that away.” Kristal When asked if the accountable talk strategies helped in the discussion I was again

surprised by the outcome. Although I observed that the students didn’t utilize the accountable talk strategies, students preferred the accountable talk strategies over the group roles. The majority of students (21) agreed, while 10 disagreed. Three strongly disagreed and only 1 strongly agreed. The focus group again did not exactly mirror the class as a whole. While 4 of the focus students agreed, 2 disagreed and 2 strongly disagreed. This should be considered when reviewing the data from the audio recordings. Most of the students who thought the accountable talk strategies helped stated that they focused the group and helped them understand the content better. They also helped keep conversation going: x x x x x x

“It helps us focus on our lesson because someone is asking questions and stuff.” Ranializa “It keeps the conversation going.” Jonathan F. “They helped because my group was then able to understand the reading better.” Jacob “They do help because you always have something to talk about and it helps you think deeper.” Jordan “We all had something to talk about and kept on subject.” Genesis “If we didn’t know what to talk about we would use them.” Xavier Most of the students who did not think the accountable talk strategies helped said they

either did not use them, that they were awkward, or that they were hard to understand:  


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      43    

x “We did not use them.” Michael x “It helped kind of, but it was kind of hard.” Jerel x “No one really used them because they were just not in the flow [of conversation]. No one talks like that. They were hard.” Kristal x “We don’t talk like that.” Chris x “We didn’t know what they meant.” Kathleen When asked if the gender-alike groups helped in discussion, the majority of students (15) agreed, or strongly agreed (9). Nine students disagreed and 2 students strongly disagreed. It is interesting to note the breakdown of this answer by gender. Thirteen boys agreed, while 3 strongly agreed. Five boys disagreed, and 2 strongly disagreed. Eleven girls agreed, and 6 strongly agreed. Six girls disagreed and none strongly disagreed. This shows that the majority of both girls and boys found the gender-alike groups beneficial. For the boys in the class, this is a change from the responses on the peer evaluation of the initial gender-alike grouping. It seems that as the boys stayed in the gender-alike groups longer, they found more benefits to it. The focus group aligned with the class as a whole on this question. Five focus group students agreed (3 boys, 2 girls), and 1 female focus group student strongly agreed. One male focus group student strongly disagreed, and one female focus group student disagreed. Most of the students who agreed that gender-alike groups helped said that they felt more comfortable sharing their ideas in gender-alike groups: x “We are all used to being around gender-alike people and it made it easier to talk to each other.” Antonio x “It’s easier to talk to everyone.” Viviana x “I think that boys understand boys better and girls understand girls.” Jacob x “We had more answers and we weren’t scared to say what we wanted to say.” Aura x “When it’s your own gender it’s easier to talk.” Nixie x “It was easier to talk to the group.” Jerel x “It helped because I know the girls in the group and it’s easier to talk to girls than boys.” Diamond

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      44    

Most of the students that didn’t think the gender-alike groupings helped seemed to be more easily distracted by their same-gender group members: x “I don’t think it’s good because all we did in our gender-alike group was talk about stuff that is not part of the lesson.” Ranializa x “Girls just talk about girl things and drama and it takes you off task a lot.” Kristal x “Sometimes we didn’t talk about the article.” Enrique When asked if the peer evaluations helped in the group discussion, a majority of students (16) agreed, while 11 disagreed. Five students strongly disagreed and three students strongly agreed. The students in the focus group aligned with the class – 5 focus group students agreed, 2 focus group students disagreed, and one focus group student strongly disagreed. Most of the students who said the peer evaluation helped stated that they made everyone accountable, helped students know what they need to improve, and helped students give more effort: x x x x x x

“It helped because people who don’t work don’t deserve good grades.” Phuong “They helped because when you gave someone a bad grade they would work harder the next time we had to do group work.” Ranializa “It helped people know how they were doing and what they could improve.” Aura “I think it helps because it keeps us focused and on track.” Aaron “I think they helped because it showed you how to be a better group member.” Adryan “It made us actually want to try in the groups.” Josh

Most of the students who did not think the peer evaluations helped in group discussions said that people either don’t care about their grade, or that people do not put a lot of thought into the grades they give their peers: x x x x

“Not many people care about their score.” Jonathan F. “People just put numbers on the paper.” Jenny L. “No one was fair on the peer evaluation, they just graded.” Kristal “It didn’t help because people would lie.” Alex T. The final question asked on the post-study survey was, “If you were the teacher of this

class, how would you organize groups in order to make everyone participate, talk to each other, and learn effectively? Please explain!” Many students wanted to be placed in groups with their  


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      45    

friends, while some wanted to use the strategies presented in the study. Here are some of the most thoughtful answers: x x x x x x x x

“Put everyone with their friends.” Viviana “I would pick groups randomly and I would definitely use your strategies like roles and accountable talk strategies.” Ranializa “I would let them discuss the questions first and then answer them later like you do [with the 5 minutes of discussion only].” Joseph “I would let the students choose groups, and if there is a problem I would move them.” Aaron “I would let friends work with friends and then when they got used to working with groups I would put people into new groups.” Josh “I would do gender-alike because we wouldn’t get off task.” Chelsea “I would let the kids organize the groups because it’s much easier to talk when you’re around your friends.” Alex T. “I would let them pick their group because if they work with people they pick they would be more talkative and more helpful because they feel really comfortable.” Jenny V.

These answers reveal that some of the students saw the benefits to and liked the strategies used during the study. Another important take-away from these answers is that there is a certain comfort level when students are placed in a group with their friends. Especially for a class like this, that is new to cooperative learning, this may be an important thing to remember in order to achieve optimal participation and meaningful discourse. Results Data Summary The data collected across Phase 1 clearly shows that meaningful discourse and participation increased when the students were given specific interaction instructions in their cooperative learning groups. As you can see from Summary Graph 1 and 2 below, both of the mixed gender focus groups substantially increased positive talk when assigned group roles and accountable talk strategies. In the initial recording, both focus groups engaged in higher levels of negative talk than positive talk. The initial grouping, with no interaction instructions, also

 


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resulted in the lowest amount of overall talk in Phase 1, pointing to a lack of discussion and cooperation. When the students were moved into gender-alike cooperative groups in Phase 2, the results were slightly different. The students, especially the girls, did not need interaction instructions in the gender-alike groups to maintain high levels of meaningful discourse and participation. This is shown clearly in Summary Graph 4. The data also suggests that genderalike groups substantially decreased, and even eliminated, negative, or off task, talk for the allgirl group. Summary Graph 4 shows an absence of negative talk in the first two iterations of Phase 2. We can also conclude that the accountable talk strategies were not successful in increasing meaningful discourse and participation in the gender-alike groups. Summary Graphs 3 and 4 show that both the boy and girl groups engaged in more negative talk than positive talk when using the accountable talk strategies. The accountable talk strategies also yielded the lowest amount of overall talk during Phase 2. Data from the post-study survey also points to the fact that the majority of boys and girls prefer working in gender-alike groups over mixed-gender cooperative groups. Summary Graph Summary Graphs 1 and 2 show the results of the audio recordings for focus Group 1 and Group 2 during Phase 1 of the research study. The blue indicates the amount of positive, or meaningful, talk in seconds during minutes 2-7 of three different grouping styles. The red indicates the amount of negative, or off task, talk.            


1 n xgxg

Summary Graph 1 Group 1, Mixed Gender Groups

    C p rxv

pgxg

.’

Summary Graph 2 Group 2, Mixed Gender Groups

Summary Graphs 3 and 4 show the results of the audio recordings for the Male and Female focus groups during Phase 2 of the research study. Again, the blue indicates the amount of positive talk in seconds during minutes 2-7, while the red indicates the amount of negative talk. Summary Graph 3 Male Group, Gender-Alike Groups

Summary Graph 4 Female Group, Gender-Alike Groups


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      48    

Analysis and Discussion Findings Although the data does not conclusively point to one grouping strategy to maximize meaningful and equitable student-to-student discourse in cooperative learning groups, this study does point to some important findings. These findings will be discussed in detail below. Organizing Cooperative Learning Groups One important finding of this study is the difference in meaningful student-to-student discourse and equitable participation when there was an absence of group expectations provided by the teacher. Students in mixed gender cooperative learning groups were not able to produce meaningful student-to-student discourse or equitable participation when no interaction instructions were given, and when the assignment did not require joint participation and offer interaction incentives. As evidenced in Summary Graphs 1 and 2 above, Group 1 only produced 2 minutes and 5 seconds of talk during a 5 minute period when not given interaction instructions. Of that 2 minutes and 5 seconds, the majority, 1 minute and 35 seconds, was off-task, negative talk. A note from my research journal quoted earlier corroborates the data from the audio recording. I noted that very few groups talked to each other at all, and that the class was extremely quiet in general. Previous research shows that students are not likely to interact in a cooperative group when not given appropriate incentives. I touched on these ideas in my research journal: Many students ended up working alone or copying info from their neighbors. There was really no incentive to work together. This shows we can’t just throw students in groups and expect them to interact.

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      49    

The Role of Gender in Meaningful Discourse and Equitable Participation Another finding of this study is the role that gender plays in producing meaningful discourse and equitable participation in cooperative learning groups. The data from the audio recordings show that for both boys and girls, negative talk was decreased in gender-alike groups. The Male Group had a total of 50 seconds of negative talk across three interventions, while the Female Group only had a total of 28 seconds. This is a clear improvement over the mixed gender groups in which Group 1 had a total of 2 minutes and 1 second of negative talk across three interventions, and Group 2 had a total of 1 minute and 45 seconds of negative talk. As shown in Summary Graph 4, negative talk was especially limited for the Female Group that did not engage in any negative talk during the first and second interventions of Phase 2. The impact of single gender arrangements on student to student interactions has significant implications for teaching and learning. On the first day of Phase 2, the first gender-alike groupings, my research journal reflected a similar observation. I noted that it was the best grouping, and the students demonstrated the most participation and on task behavior in their gender-alike groups. The post-study survey contributes to this finding. Seventy percent of girls in the class and 74% of boys said that the gender-alike groups helped in their group discussion. This is a clear majority of both boys and girls. As stated before, the reason most often stated for why the gender-alike groups helped was that students felt more comfortable sharing their ideas and could discuss things more easily. Significance The first key finding of my study supports researchers Smagorinsky and Fly (1994), who say that cooperative learning groups will not be successful unless they are carefully monitored by  


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      50    

teachers. The mixed gender groups produced little positive talk or participation when no interaction instructions were given. This data also supports Johnson and Johnson (1999) and their five essential elements for making cooperative group learning successful. The students were not given positive interdependence, a group design that fostered social skills or promotive (encouraging, supportive) interaction, or an opportunity for group processing (reflection). The only element present was individual accountability, an element which is present in individual work. Without incentives to work together, most of the students chose to work by themselves. This is very important information for teachers that wish to use cooperative learning groups in their classrooms. We cannot expect students to interact simply because they are sitting in a group configuration. Many students, especially those taught in traditional classrooms, have little experience working with their peers and may not feel comfortable doing so. Without incentive to work together, they will defer to working individually. When I introduced the five essential elements of cooperative group learning suggested by Johnson and Johnson, I noticed an increase in student interaction. My students had to work together for a grade (I only collected 1 worksheet from each group, pushing students to work together to find the best possible answer), they were given opportunities to develop social skills and support each other (through the group roles and accountable talk strategies), they were held individually accountable (through the peer evaluations), and they participated in group processing (reflecting on what went well and what could go better on the peer evaluation forms). As evidenced in Summary Graphs 1 and 2 above, these incentives to work together played a role in increased meaningful discourse and equitable participation in Phase 1 of the research study. The second finding of my action research study regarding the effect of gender groupings on meaningful discourse and equitable participation builds on Streitmatter’s (1997) research that  


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      51    

found that girls take more academic risks, speak out, and ask more questions in single-gender classrooms. My finding builds on Streitmatter’s work, and suggests that both girls and boys may be more willing to share ideas and participate meaningfully in single-gender classrooms. Girl and boys responded to feeling better about sharing their ideas and being able to communicate easier when in the gender-alike groups. This finding could support the argument for the benefits of single-gender classrooms and schools, although clearly more research is called for. However, I think this finding suggests another important implication for teachers. Most of us do not teach in single-gender classrooms or schools. The question we must answer becomes, how do we foster a positive classroom environment where boys and girls feel equally comfortable to participate and discuss their ideas? While single-gender classrooms could provide immediate benefits for both boys and girls, I wonder if it doesn’t do them an injustice in the long run. Males and females will be forced to interact in public schools and in the workplace, and it is important that we as teachers give them the social skills and confidence that comes with them to be able to effectively communicate to each other in a non-threatening environment. The sooner we can teach our students how to do that, the more prepared they will be for their futures. This idea can be expanded to teaching students to interact with people that they are “different” from ethnically, culturally, and socially. Limitations There are some clear limitations to this action research study. This study took place in an 8th grade classroom in Mira Mesa, California. As teachers, we know that all schools and all classrooms have unique student populations and different classroom and social norms and tendencies. The results of this study are focused on the outcomes from one specific class, and

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      52    

though they are not generalizable to other classrooms, the data offers implications for teaching in classrooms with similar contexts. Another limitation of this study is that the lessons for each of the intervention iterations changed based on both content and assignment demands. Some assignments required reading a lot of text, some required more writing, some required the analysis of images, etc. Depending on the abilities of the students in each cooperative group, the difficulty level of each assignment could have influenced students’ abilities to contribute meaningfully to a conversation or participate fully. Similarly, some of the assignments could have been more interesting or appealing to students, which would naturally create more positive talk and participation. Finally, the amount of prior knowledge and understanding the students had about each of the assignment topics also could have affected data outcomes. As stated before, this particular class had little to no experience in cooperative learning groups before this study began. A class with more familiarity and a higher comfort level working in such groups would potentially yield a different set of data. The students in my study had to learn not only the content of each assignment, the demands of the specific grouping strategy employed (either the duties of their roles or the accountable talk strategies), but additionally, discover norms and practices of working in groups. Students with more practice in group work would not be hindered by this additional task. Additionally, the students in the focus group were “singled out” because small audio recorders were placed in the center of their tables during each of the group discussions. Although I tried to ease their fears of being recorded by letting them know they would not be graded based on the recordings, and that I would not even be listening to the full length of the conversations, both groups showed signs of being distracted by the audio recorders throughout  


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      53    

the study. Focus group students tried to cover the audio recorders with pieces of paper, or place backpacks in front of the speakers, and could often be heard drumming next to or tapping on the audio recorders. The very fact that their discussions were recorded could have had an effect on the level of participation among some or all students in the focus groups. Finally, the timing of this study could have affected the quality of data. It is difficult to keep students at the end of their eighth grade year engaged and interested in their learning. In many cases, they have mentally already moved on to high school making it hard to reach them. This study took place during the last two months of school. After feeling slightly disappointed by the outcome of the gender-alike group role intervention, I noted in my research journal: I think part of what is going on is that these students are 8th graders and it is mid-May. They are getting close to the end of school and it is hard to engage them in anything right now. Additionally, the students were involved in statewide STAR standardized testing in the middle of the study, from April 27 through May 7. Mental fatigue from testing in the morning followed by a full class schedule could have had an effect on the data. Implications The findings and data from my research will definitely influence my future teaching. I will establish and teach cooperative group norms that will be in place for the entire school year. This will allow proper scaffolding, comfort level, and understanding for my students every time they work in a cooperative group. I will design group assignments carefully to include the essential elements of grouping, and provide clear and enticing incentives to work together. I will also allow the students to learn in a variety of cooperative groupings – some gender-alike, some mixed gender, some teacher chosen, some student chosen. I will ensure that when requiring the use of group roles or accountable talk strategies the students will have ample time to learn,

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      54    

practice, and become accustomed to the mandatory strategies. There will also be substantial discussion over the benefits of each of the strategies I employ in the cooperative groups, to aid in student buy-in and cooperation. My research has some implications for instructional practice among all teachers, and teachers interested in engaging their students in cooperative group learning could gain valuable information from this study. As discussed earlier, teachers cannot expect that putting students in groups means they will work together cooperatively. Students must be given specific interaction instructions and incentives for working together to make cooperative learning successful. This study also suggests that some instructional methods, such as cooperative group learning, could be more effective when students are separated by gender. While this research does not advocate for single-gender classrooms, it does suggest that there are some benefits to breaking students up by gender when using certain teaching strategies. This research also has some implications for school-wide and district level policy. As mentioned above, this research shows benefits to gender separation in classrooms in some instances. This finding suggests the potential benefit of increasing collaboration among teachers at individual schools. Such collaboration could allow one teacher to take all female students from two classes when deemed necessary, and the other teacher to take all male students. This research adds to the many existing benefits of teacher collaboration by providing for a separation of gender when using certain teaching strategies or when trying to improve certain skills. There are a few important additional research questions that have arisen from this study. The first would be a project studying how best to teach grouping strategies, including group roles and accountable talk strategies, to garner the highest level of student understanding and usage.

 


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Although this and other studies speak to the benefits and drawbacks of using such strategies, no research looks at how we can best prepare out students to use them successfully. Another question from this research is specific to accountable talk strategies. The data from the audio recordings and observations from my research journal point to the failure of accountable talk strategies to produce meaningful discourse and equitable participation. However, in the post-study survey, more students thought the accountable talk strategies helped in discussion more that either the group roles or the peer evaluation forms. The only thing that more students preferred was the gender-alike groupings. This was a definite surprise for me, as I assumed the students did not understand the accountable talk strategies well, and therefore were not using them. It seems some students found a benefit to them. A research study that focuses solely on accountable talk strategies, the way they can be scaffolded in classroom use, and their true benefits would be interesting to consider. Accountable talk strategies have the potential to be very effective but are very hard to learn well enough to be able to use them efficiently and effectively. A future study would need to engage students in extensive modeling and whole class use of the strategies. Conclusion Engaging in this study was a new experience for me. I have never considered myself to be very scientific-minded or research-focused. I came into the project worried that I would not be able to design an effective project, not be able to interpret data, and not be able to balance the role of teacher and researcher. I soon realized, however, that action research is simply a more formal and documented version of what good teachers do every day – carefully evaluate their students and practices with the goal of improving their teaching and helping students learn most effectively.  


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A real success for me during this research project was reviewing the literature on cooperative group learning. Cooperative groups are becoming common-place in classrooms around the country, but they are often implemented without much thought or instruction from the teacher. Through my literature review, I learned some important factors of group learning that I included in my research study and will continue to involve throughout my career. Such things include providing incentive to work together as a group (through peer evaluations, for example), individual rewards for work and effort, positive group interaction, social skills, and reflection of the group process (Johnson & Johnson, 1999). I found these elements to be important in the groupings I set up and tried to incorporate them throughout the study. I was able to see a direct benefit of incorporating existing research into my practice, and this research study helped me realize the benefits practitioners can gain from researchers. Another success for me was being able to change the classroom dynamic. As a student teacher, I came into a class that was heavily teacher-led with little opportunity for students to talk to each other about their ideas and learning. Although I tried to make subtle changes to this structure throughout my time with the class, I was hesitant to make any substantial changes to the way the class was run. It was not until this research project that I fully put my trust in the students and tried something completely different. I was worried that they may not be able to handle extended amounts of group work, or worse, that they would not learn effectively through group work. However, the students were able to successfully do both those things, with my assistance and grouping designs. I felt proud to have really changed the way the classroom was run while still serving the academic needs of the students. A challenge for me was getting full buy-in from my students regarding the different grouping strategies. Although many used the group roles and accountable talk strategies, there  


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were some students that commented both on the peer evaluation and the post-study survey that they did not try them. I blame myself for this lack of buy-in. If I could do this project again, I would spend more time truly teaching the strategies to the students, letting them practice them, and ensuring they understand not only how to use them, but why they are valuable in cooperative learning groups. I think many of the students either did not understand the roles and accountable talk strategies or did not see a benefit to them, and therefore were reluctant to try them. Another thing I would do differently if I engaged in a similar action research project is I would not plan out all my interventions before starting the study. I would try one intervention, see how it goes, and then design the next intervention to respond directly to the results. Although I am still happy with the interventions I performed, I did not have the freedom (partly due to time restrictions) to make many responsive changes during the study. It would have been interesting, for example, to try to have the students focus on only one accountable talk strategy at a time, or to allow students to choose their own groups and see how that goes. A more flexible research design would allow me to react to new and important learnings that arise unexpectedly during the course of the study. I have learned a few things about myself as a teacher. I have first learned that I really care about the opinions and feelings of the students in my class. I was fascinated to see their comments on both the peer-evaluations and the surveys regarding each of the interventions. I would like to incorporate more student feedback in my own class next year. I also learned that I need to carefully consider the demands I am placing on my students. I should have recognized that the accountable talk strategies were probably a little too complicated to teach to my 8th grade students all at once. It is sometimes hard to truly evaluate the difficulty level of certain things

 


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when they are so clear and understandable to me. Although I always want to challenge my students, it is important that they are given appropriate tasks. As a researcher I learned that I am capable of designing, implementing, and analyzing an action research project. Knowing that I am not only capable of this, but that it is also relatively simple in the end will definitely push me to perform more action research projects in the future. I also learned that, for my own sanity, I need to be very organized in my research design. I felt very uncomfortable with this research project until everything came together and I knew the main direction I was headed. Finally, I learned that it is important to systematically review the data as it is being collected. I waited to analyze most my data until the study was over. Had I begun to analyze earlier, I could have reacted to patterns or problems that I saw and would maybe have more clear conclusions as a result. Through this project I really learned the benefit of action research. I feel that I am now much more knowledgeable about cooperative group learning and will be able to more effectively implement it in my own classroom. Although I do not foresee myself performing another study quite as formally as this in the near future, it is something I would like to participate in once a year. I envision myself collaborating with another teacher to design a project, implement it, and compare results and findings. I think there are so many strengths in involving teachers in this sort of research. It is one thing to read an academic article, but quite another thing to try out a new strategy in your own classroom. Engaging in research ensures that teachers are constantly working to improve their techniques and build towards best practices. If teachers are feeling overwhelmed with their day-to-day duties as teachers, I do not advise them to add action research on top of that. But, if comfortable with their responsibilities, I highly recommend action research as a way to benefit both yourself as a teacher and your students as learners.  


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Appendix A

Group  Roles  

Discussion  leader         x Starts  the  discussion,  introduces  new  topics/questions,  and  keeps  group  members  on   task     x Ensures  the  group  finishes  discussion  and  task  in  allotted  time   Typical  phrases:     “Today  we  have  to  get  A,  B,  and  C  done.    Let’s  start  with  A.”     “I  think  we  have  answered  A  completely.    Let’s  move  on  to  B.”     “We  only  have  5  minutes  left,  we  should  probably  wrap  this  up.”     “I’m  not  sure  that  has  to  do  with  our  topic,  let’s  look  at  the  question  again.”     Encourager     x Ensures  all  group  members  have  a  chance  to  participate  and  learn   x Encourages  reluctant  students  to  participate   x Motivates,  encourages,  and  praises  group   Typical  phrases:     “We  haven’t  heard  what  you  have  to  say,  Susie.    Do  you  have  any  ideas?”     “Thanks  for  your  high  level  of  participation,  John,  but  let’s  hear  what  the  other  group   members  have  to  say.”     “We  are  working  together  really  well  as  a  group,  and  everyone  is  fulfilling  their  roles   nicely.”     Summarizer     x Summarizes  the  discussion  and  progress  at  various  points  during  group  work   x Ensures  everyone  understands  and  is  on  the  “same  page”   Typical  phrases:     “So  far  the  main  things  we  have  discussed  are  A  and  B,  but  we  have  not  yet  touched  on   C.”     “Wow,  class  is  almost  over.    Let’s  talk  about  what  we  accomplished  today.”     Devil’s  advocate     x Ensures  that  all  arguments  have  been  heard   x Suggests  consideration  for  opposing  viewpoints  and  ideas   Typical  phrases     “That  is  a  good  point,  but  have  you  considered  this  (the  opposite)?”     “Even  though  we  all  don’t  agree  with  Mary’s  point  right  now,  we  should  consider  it.”    


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      60    

Appendix B    

Accountable  Talk  Strategies     1.    Linking     Linking  is  the  act  of  connecting  the  ideas  of  two  people  together.    Linking  shows  how   ideas  relate,  agree  or  disagree,  and  build  on  each  other.     Typical  phrases:     “John’s  ideas  relate  to  Mary’s  because  they  are  both  about  how  the  type  of  document   relates  to  the  content.”     “John  and  Mary  agree  on  A,  but  seem  to  disagree  on  B.”     “John  says  the  author  might  be  lying.    I  agree,  and  I  think  the  author  is  lying  because  he   is  trying  to  persuade  the  audience  to  do  what  he  wants.”         2.    Revoicing     Revoicing  is  the  act  of  rephrasing  what  the  person  who  spoke  before  you  said.    This   ensures  that  you  are  listening  carefully,  allows  you  to  build  on  each  others’  ideas,  and  allows   the  first  speaker  to  re-­‐clarify  their  point.     Typical  phrases:     John:    “I  think  the  word  “abolish”  in  this  line  means  to  ‘get  rid  of’.”     Mary:    “John  thinks  abolish  means  to  get  rid  of.    I  agree,  and  I  think  it  means  to  get  rid  of     slavery  in  particular.”     Mary:    “I  disagree  with  you  because  this  document  is  a  letter  so  the  person  was  writing  it   directly  to  someone.”     John:    “Mary  disagrees  because  the  document  is  a  letter,  but  even  if  you  are  writing   specifically  to  someone  you  still  might  expect  others  to  read  it.”     3.    Productive  questioning     Productive  questioning  allows  the  group  to  think  more  critically.    These  questions  ask   group  members  to  analyze,  evaluate,  and  apply  their  knowledge.     Typical  phrases:     “How  might  this  idea  relate  to  our  lives  today?”     “Why  do  you  think  it  is  important  to  learn  about  this?”     “Whose  opinion  do  you  think  is  the  best?    Why?”     “How  is  idea  A  different  than  idea  B?”     “How  does  this  relate  to  something  we  have  already  learned?”     “When  could  we  use  this  information  in  the  future?”        


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      61    

Appendix C PRE-­‐STUDY  SURVEY     *Directions:    Circle  the  number  that  corresponds  with  your  answer.    Please  answer  the  questions   honestly.    You  will  not  be  graded  or  judged  on  your  answers.    Please  explain  your  answers  thoroughly  in   the  lines  provided  (this  means  more  than  1  sentence!).    

1.    I  like  working  in  groups.     1  

2  

3  

4  

Strongly  disagree  

Disagree  

Agree  

Strongly  agree  

  What  is  your  favorite  thing  about  working  in  groups?                                                             What  is  your  least  favorite  thing  about  working  in  groups?                                                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.    When  in  a  group,  I  normally  participate  as  much  as  the  other  members  of  my  group.     1  

2  

3  

4  

Strongly  disagree  

Disagree  

Agree  

Strongly  Agree  

  Why  do/don’t  you  participate?    What  does  it  mean  to  you  to  participate?                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      62    

Appendix C continued 3.    When  in  a  group,  I  feel  comfortable  sharing  ideas  in  a  discussion.     1  

2  

3  

4  

Strongly  disagree  

Disagree  

Agree  

Strongly  agree  

  Why  do  you  feel  comfortable  sharing?  –  OR  –  Why  don’t  you  feel  comfortable  sharing?                                                                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.    When  in  a  group,  I  feel  like  the  other  group  members  listen  to  what  I  have  to  say.     1  

2  

3  

4  

Strongly  disagree  

Disagree  

Agree  

Strongly  agree  

  How  do  you  know  group  members  are/are  not  listening  to  you?    What  things  does  someone  do  when   they  are  listening  to  someone  else?                                                                                        

     

5.    When  in  a  group,  I  try  to  help  the  other  people  in  my  group  understand  the  material  and  do   well  on  the  assignment.     1  

2  

3  

4  

Strongly  disagree  

Disagree  

Agree  

Strongly  agree  

  What  kinds  of  things  do  you  do  to  help  group  members?  –  OR  –  What  could  someone  in  a  group  do  that   would  be  helpful  to  you?                                                                


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      63    

Appendix D   POST-­‐STUDY  SURVEY   *Directions:    Circle  the  number  that  corresponds  with  your  answer.    Please  answer  the  questions   honestly.    You  will  not  be  graded  or  judged  on  your  answers,  but  you  must  answer  all  the  questions  for  a   grade.    Please  explain  your  answers  thoroughly  in  the  lines  provided  (this  means  more  than  1   sentence!).    

1.    I  like  working  in  groups.     1  

2  

3  

4  

Strongly  disagree  

Disagree  

Agree  

Strongly  agree  

  What  makes  a  group  successful?    What  things  help  you  to  participate  and  discuss  in  a  group?                                                           What  makes  a  group  unsuccessful?    What  things  prevent  you  from  participating  and  discussing  in   groups?                                                            

   

   

2.    The  group  roles  helped  in  the  group  discussions.     1  

2  

3  

4  

Strongly  disagree  

Disagree  

Agree  

Strongly  Agree  

  Why  do/don’t  you  think  group  roles  helped?                                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.    The  accountable  talk  strategies  helped  in  the  group  discussions.     1  

2  

3  

4  

Strongly  disagree  

Disagree  

Agree  

Strongly  agree  

   


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      64    

Appendix D continued Why  do/don’t  you  think  the  accountable  talk  strategies  helped?                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.    The  gender-­‐alike  groups  helped  in  the  group  discussions.     1  

2  

3  

4  

Strongly  disagree  

Disagree  

Agree  

Strongly  agree  

  Why  do/don’t  you  think  the  gender-­‐alike  groupings  helped?                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  5.    The  peer  evaluations  helped  in  the  group  discussions.     1  

2  

3  

4  

Strongly  disagree  

Disagree  

Agree  

Strongly  agree  

  Why  do/don’t  you  think  the  peer  evaluations  helped?                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.    If  you  were  the  teacher  of  this  class,  how  would  you  organize  groups  in  order  to  make   everyone  participate,  talk  to  each  other,  and  learn  effectively?    Please  explain!                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      65    

Appendix E   Transcription  Guide     I  will  transcribe  5  minutes  of  each  of  the  preselected  groups’  discussions.    The  time  frame  transcribed   will  be  the  same  for  both  groups.    For  example,  in  a  20  minute  conversation  I  will  listen  to  minutes  7-­‐12   of  both  groups’  conversations.    Each  contribution  will  be  assigned  a  point  value  (either  +1  or  -­‐1).    The   points  will  be  added  to  determine  amount  of  meaningful  discourse.    Talk  that  does  not  fit  into  one  of  the   below  categories  will  receive  no  points.    Additionally,  each  time  every  member  of  the  group  speaks   once,  they  will  get  +1  point.    Points  will  be  added  to  determine  the  level  of  meaning  and  equity  in   participation.       Name  of  speaker   Gender  of  speaker   Length  of  talk   Contribution  type    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Possible  positive  talk  contributions  (+1  point):   x Introduces  new  topic   x Attempts  to  get  group  on  task   x Makes  group  members  aware  of  time  constraints   x Invites  group  member  to  participate   x Praises  group  or  individual  member   x Summarizes  the  discussion   x Ensures  group  understanding   x Suggests  opposing  viewpoint  or  idea   x Links   x Revoices   x Asks  a  productive  question   x Makes  a  connection  to  prior  knowledge  or  lessons   x Advances  the  understanding  of  content     Possible  negative  talk  contributions  (-­‐1  point)   x Engages  in  off  topic  talk   x Interrupts  group  member   x Puts  group  member  or  idea  down                


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      66    

Appendix F   Group  Evaluation  Form     You  will  evaluate  both  yourself  and  your  peers  on  the  level  and  quality  of  participation  during  today’s   group  work.    You  will  score  each  member  of  the  group  from  1-­‐4.    Score  explanations  are  as  follows:     1-­‐ Group  member  did  not  participate.    Group  member  did  not  listen.    Group  member  distracted   the  group  and  engaged  in  off-­‐task  behavior.    Group  member  made  it  hard  to  learn  and   accomplish  today’s  task.    [Group  member  did  not  perform  their  role.    Group  member  did  not  try   any  accountable  talk  strategies.]   2-­‐ Group  member  participated  a  little.    Group  member  listened  sometimes.    [Group  member   performed  their  role  sometimes.    Group  member  tried  an  accountable  talk  strategy  once.]         3-­‐ Group  member  participated  most  of  the  time.    Group  member  listened  well.    [Group  member   performed  their  role  most  of  the  time.    Group  member  tried  an  accountable  talk  strategy  two  or   three  times.]   4-­‐ Group  member  consistently  participated  and  listened.    Group  member  helped  other  group   members  to  understand  and  encouraged  all  to  participate.    [Group  member  carried  out  all  the   duties  of  their  role.    Group  member  tried  an  accountable  talk  strategy  four  or  more  times.]     *  Items  in  brackets  will  be  added  depending  on  the  intervention  that  took  place  that  day.     Name   Score    

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

    1.    What  went  well  today  in  the  group?    What  did  you  like?     2.    What  did  not  go  well  today  in  the  group?    What  didn’t  you  like?     3.    How  could  you  improve  the  group  next  time?      


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      67    

Appendix G (continued on pages 67-74) April  16,  2009   AR  Lesson  1     Context:       This  lesson  is  part  of  the  unit  on  new  movements  in  America  during  the  early  to  mid  1800’s.    The   students  have  just  learned  about  reform  movements  that  developed  from  the  Second  Great  Awakening,   including  the  temperance  movement,  prison  reform,  and  education  reform.    After  this  lesson  they  will   be  learning  about  the  women’s  movement.    This  lesson  will  be  the  first  time  the  students  will  be   working  in  the  assigned  groups  of  four  that  they  will  remain  in  for  the  next  few  months.    This  lesson  also   serves  as  a  pre-­‐study  evaluation  for  my  action  research  project.    I  will  be  using  audio  recorders  to  record   two  pre-­‐selected  groups  of  students  who  I  will  follow  closely  throughout  the  project.    This  lesson  will   serve  two  purposes:  1)  allow  me  to  judge  the  effectiveness  (sound  quality,  etc.)  of  the  audio  recorders   and  2)  gather  initial  group  participation  information  on  the  pre-­‐selected  students  to  use  as  data  prior  to   any  research  interventions.     Content  Standard:   [History  Standard  8.9  “Students  analyze  the  early  and  steady  attempts  to  abolish  slavery  and  to  realize   the  ideals  of  the  Declaration  of  Independence.”]   History  Standard  8.9.1  “Describe  the  leaders  of  the  movement  (e.g.,  John  Quincy  Adams  and  his   proposed  constitutional  amendment,  John  Brown  and  the  armed  resistance,  Harriet  Tubman  and  the   Underground  Railroad,  Benjamin  Franklin,  Theodore  Weld,  William  Lloyd  Garrison,  Frederick   Douglass).”     Instructional  Objective:   Students  will  become  familiar  with  four  leaders  of  the  abolitionist  movement,  their  views  on  slavery,   and  the  actions  they  took.    They  will  also  critically  consider  the  risks  and  moral  factors  white  Americans   in  the  early  1800’s  faced  by  considering  if  they  would  become  an  abolitionist  or  not.    Finally,  they  will   become  comfortable  with  their  newly  formed  groups,  and  practice  group  interaction  (discussion,   listening,  etc.).       Theoretical  Foundation:   This  lesson  is  constructivist  in  nature  and  allows  students  to  discover  and  process  information  for   themselves.    Through  the  reading  of  the  handouts  and  the  use  of  the  graphic  organizer,  they  will   construct  knowledge  of  important  abolitionist  leaders  and  their  views  and  actions.    This  lesson  also   utilizes  cooperative  grouping  where  students  are  encouraged  to  participate  in  student-­‐to-­‐student   academic  discourse.    This  discourse  will  allow  students  to  increase  their  zone  of  proximal  development   through  interaction  with  group  members  of  varying  abilities.         Evidence  of  Understanding/Assessment:     Formative  assessments  –   x Group  discussions   x Group  participation   Summative  Assessment  –   x Graphic  organizers   x Short  paragraph    


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      68     x

Tomorrow’s  large  group  share-­‐out     Learning  Experiences:   Introduction:   Remind  students  of  what  was  learned  yesterday.    “Remember  that  yesterday  we  learned  about  ways   that  Americans  wanted  to  reform  society  in  the  early  1800’s.    Please  raise  your  hand  and  tell  me:    What   were  some  of  the  things  reformers  focused  on  (temperance,  prisons,  education)?  Today  we  are  going  to   see  how  this  same  attitude  of  reform  was  applied  to  slavery.”         Instructional  Activities:   1)    Brief  overview:    Teacher  will  briefly  provide  the  students  background  information  and  define  terms   “abolitionist”  and  “Underground  Railroad”.     2)    Explain  assignment:    Teacher  will  explain  today’s  assignment  and  pass  out  needed  materials.     3)    Present  groups:    Teacher  will  present  the  class’  new  groups  on  the  document  camera.    She  will  direct   each  group  where  in  the  room  to  go,  and  review  expectations  for  group  organization  (all  sitting  facing   each  other,  etc).    Students  will  be  reminded  that  a  few  groups  will  be  recorded  for  the  purpose  of  the   action  research  project.     4)    Group  work  time:    Students  will  complete  the  assignment  in  their  groups.    Each  student  must  turn  in   their  own  graphic  organizer.     5)    Large  group  share-­‐out:    Students  will  assist  me  in  completing  a  graphic  organizer  on  the  overhead  by   explaining  their  answers.    They  will  also  be  encouraged  to  read  their  answers  to  the  wrap  up  question.     [This  activity  will  most  likely  take  place  tomorrow  due  to  time  constraints]     Differentiation  and  Academic  Language:   x Academic  language:    This  lesson  introduces  students  to  the  necessary  academic  language  at  the   beginning,  in  the  brief  overview.    Other  language  needs  from  the  handouts  will  be  supported  by   group  discussion  and  members  of  varying  ability  levels,  and  the  teacher  as  necessary.    The   graphic  organizer  will  help  students  clearly  organize  the  information  they  read  in  the  text  and   solidify  their  ideas  and  understanding.    The  graphic  organizer  will  also  scaffold  students  to   answer  the  wrap  up  question.       x Differentiation:    This  lesson  is  interactive  and  will  engage  all  students.    Students  will  be  placed  in   mixed  ability  groups,  allowing  struggling  students  to  benefit  from  their  higher  performing  peers.     The  wrap  up  question  allows  students  to  display  understanding  at  their  own  level  and  ability.     Instructional  Materials:   x Graphic  organizer   x 4  handouts  (per  group)   x Audio  recorders   x Document  camera   x Group  assignment  sheet  

 

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      69    

Frederick  Douglass    

Frederick  Douglass  was  an  African  American  whose  brilliant   speaking  and  writing  made  him  one  of  the  leading  abolitionists.     Enslaved  until  he  was  21,  Douglass  worked  as  a  plantation  slave   and  house  servant  in  Maryland.    After  one  failed  attempt,   Douglass  escaped  to  Massachusetts  and  got  away  from   slavehunters  by  changing  his  name  from  Bailey  to  Douglass.     Douglass  became  an  important  abolitionist  after  he  was  invited   to  an  anti-­‐slavery  convention  in  1841.    He  demonstrated  his   powerful  speaking  style  by  telling  an  audience  about  his   feelings  and  experiences  under  slavery.    Afterwards,  despite   heckling,  insults,  and  violent  personal  attack,  he  continued  to   speak  about  the  cruelty  of  slavery.    Douglass  once  said,  “Slavery   is  wicked  –  wicked  in  that  it  violates  the  great  law  of   liberty…slavery  is  alike  the  sin  and  the  shame  of  the  American   people.”    Douglass  used  the  money  he  made  for  giving  lectures   to  help  runaway  slaves.     In  1845,  Douglass  wrote  his  autobiography  (life  story),  which   thoroughly  described  slavery  from  a  slave’s  point  of  view.    From   1847  to  1860,  Douglass  published  his  own  anti-­‐slavery   newspaper,  the  North  Star.    As  a  consultant  to  President  Lincoln   during  the  Civil  War,  Douglass  urged  Lincoln  to  allow  former   slaves  to  fight  for  the  North.              


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      70    

Harriet  Tubman    

Harriet  Tubman  became  a  leading  abolitionist  after  escaping   from  slavery  on  a  Maryland  plantation  in  1849.    She  escaped  to   the  North  by  the  “Underground  Railroad,”  which  is  neither  a   railroad  nor  underground.    The  Underground  Railroad  was  a   secret  network  of  about  3,000  people  organized  to  hide  and   help  escaped  slaves.    Under  the  cover  of  darkness,   “conductors”  led  runaways  to  freedom,  providing  food  and  safe   hiding  places.     After  her  escape,  Tubman  devoted  her  energy  to  helping  other   slaves  escape  to  freedom  via  the  Underground  Railroad.    Once   she  escaped  slavery,  she  promised  to  help  others  by  saying,  “To   this  solemn  resolution  I  came;  I  was  free,  and  other  slaves   should  be  free  also;  I  would  make  a  home  for  them  in  the   North,  and  the  Lord  helping  me,  I  would  bring  them  all  here.”     Known  as  the  “Moses  of  her  people,”  Tubman  demonstrated   extraordinary  courage  and  endurance  by  helping  more  than   300  slaves  to  freedom.    She  was  known  for  maintaining  strict   discipline  among  her  followers,  often  forcing  the  tired  or  scared   to  continue  northward  by  threatening  them  with  a  loaded  gun.     John  Brown,  another  leading  abolitionist,  referred  to  Tubman   as  “one  of  the  best  and  bravest  persons  on  this  continent  –   General  Tubman  as  we  call  her.”            


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      71    

The  Grimke  Sisters     Sarah  and  Angelina  Grimke  were  the  only  Southern  women  to   become  abolitionist  leaders.    The  Grimkes  were  the  daughters   of  Judge  John  Faucheraud  Grimke  of  South  Carolina,  a   distinguished  judge,  planter,  and  slaveowner.    Shocked  by  what   they  saw  of  slavery,  they  moved  to  the  North  and  became   active  in  the  abolitionist  movement.     Both  Sarah  and  Angelina  wrote  pamphlets  in  1836  encouraging   Southern  women  to  stop  slavery  using  “moral  suasion,”  which   meant  persuading  people  that  slavery  was  morally  wrong.     Their  anti-­‐slavery  pamphlets  were  praised  by  abolitionists,  but   were  hated  in  the  South.    In  fact,  South  Carolina  officials   burned  the  pamphlets  and  threatened  to  jail  the  sisters  if  they   ever  returned  to  their  home  state.    At  the  same  time,  the   Grimke  sisters  demonstrated  their  distaste  for  slavery  by   freeing  slaves  that  their  mother  had  given  them.     Both  sisters  became  traveling  lecturers  of  the  American  Anti-­‐ Slavery  Society.    They  became  among  the  first  women  to  speak   to  mixed  audiences  (made  up  of  both  men  and  women).    They   were  harshly  criticized  by  some  who  considered  this   “unladylike,”  but  they  continued  to  speak  out  anyway.    “My   idea,”  wrote  Angelina,  “is  that  whatever  is  morally  right  for  a   man  to  do  is  morally  right  for  a  woman  to  do.”              


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      72    

William  Lloyd  Garrison    

William  Lloyd  Garrison  was  one  of  the  most  famous   abolitionists  in  the  19th  century.    From  1831  to  1865,  he   published  the  anti-­‐slavery  newspaper  The  Liberator,  and  he   helped  lead  the  successful  movement  to  abolish  slavery.     Garrison  joined  the  anti-­‐slavery  movement  in  Boston  when  he   was  25,  and  3  years  later  helped  found  the  American  Anti-­‐ Slavery  Society.     The  Liberator  was  the  most  outspoken  anti-­‐slavery  publication   of  its  time.    Garrison  demanded  an  immediate,  no-­‐compromise   end  to  slavery.    In  The  Liberator’s  first  issue,  Garrison  wrote,  “I   will  be  as  harsh  as  truth,  and  as  uncompromising  as  justice…I   will  not  retreat  a  single  inch.    And  I  WILL  BE  HEARD!”    Garrison   blamed  everyone  who  tolerated  slavery  for  its  existence.     He  once  publicly  set  fire  to  the  Constitution  because  it  did  not   outlaw  slavery  and  labeled  the  Constitution  as  an  “agreement   with  Hell.”    In  addition,  he  urged  Northern  states  to  secede   from,  or  leave,  the  United  States  under  his  principle  of  “No   Union  with  Slaveholders.”    Not  surprisingly,  Garrison  was  hated   in  the  South  and  considered  by  many  in  the  North  to  be  too   radical  in  his  beliefs.    Nevertheless,  he  continued  his  abolitionist   work  until  slaves  were  freed  after  the  Civil  War.                


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      73    

Understanding  Perspectives  on  Slavery     Directions:    Read  each  of  the  four  handouts  together  with  your  group.    Each  handout  shows  a   different  person’s  viewpoint  on  slavery.    Analyze  the  handout  carefully  and  then  record  the   person’s  name,  view  on  slavery,  and  actions  taken  to  support  that  view  in  the  chart  below.     Person  

 

Three  Details  of  Person’s  View  on   Slavery   1.  

Actions  Person  Took  to  Support   Viewpoint    

2.   3.    

1.  

 

2.   3.    

1.  

 

2.   3.    

1.  

 

2.   3.  

             

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      74    

**As  a  wrap  up  to  this  activity  please  write  a  short  paragraph  (4  sentences  at  least)  answering   the  following  question  in  the  space  below:  If  you  were  a  white  person  in  the  1800’s,  would  you   become  an  abolitionist,  speak  out  against  slavery,  and/or  try  to  help  slaves  gain  freedom?     Why  or  why  not?     Discuss  this  question  with  your  group  for  a  few  minutes  before  writing.                Things  to  think  about:     What  were  some  dangers  white  abolitionists  faced?                 Why  would  you  want  to  be  an  abolitionist?                 Why  wouldn’t  you  want  to  be  an  abolitionist?             How  much  help  would  you  be  willing  to  give?             What  specific  actions  would  you  take?                                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      75    

 

 

 

 

Appendix H (continued on pages 75-78)                                                      May  1,  2009   AR  Lesson  2  

  Context:       This  lesson  is  part  of  the  unit  on  the  Civil  War.    The  students  have  recently  learned  about  the  growing   tensions  between  the  North  and  the  South  that  ultimately  led  to  secession  of  many  southern  states.     After  this  lesson  they  will  be  exploring  the  Civil  War  further,  learning  about  important  battles,  life  during   the  war,  and  results  of  the  war.    This  lesson  also  serves  as  one  of  the  interventions  for  my  action   research  project.    I  will  be  assigning  each  group  member  a  discussion  role  today  that  they  must  carry  out   in  mixed  gender  cooperative  groups.    After  this  lesson  students  will  be  filling  out  a  peer  evaluation  form   that  also  asks  them  about  their  impression  of  the  group  roles.       Content  Standard:   History  Standard  8.10.2  “Trace  the  boundaries  constituting  the  North  and  the  South,  the  geographical   differences  between  the  two  regions,  and  the  differences  between  agrarians  and  industrialists.”     Instructional  Objective:   Students  will  identify  specific  geographical,  economic,  societal,  and  cultural  features  of  the  North  and   the  South.    They  will  consider  which  of  these  factors  served  as  advantages  and  disadvantages  to  each   region.    Finally,  they  will  become  familiar  with  and  assume  group  discussion  roles  aimed  to  improve   participation  and  meaningful  student  discourse.     Theoretical  Foundation:   This  lesson  builds  strongly  on  the  theory  of  the  zone  of  proximal  development,  in  which  students  will   learn  more  through  interaction  with  peers.    As  the  students  discuss  and  consider  multiple  perspectives   they  will  stretch  their  thinking  and  grow  their  understanding.    This  lesson  builds  on  the  prior  knowledge   students  have  been  learning  for  the  last  couple  of  weeks  about  all  the  differences  between  the  North   and  the  South  in  the  mid  1800’s.    This  lesson  also  uses  a  common  practice  in  cooperative  grouping,   discussion  roles,  aimed  to  improve  participation  and  meaningful  student  discourse.     Evidence  of  Understanding/Assessment:     Formative  assessments  –   x Group  discussions   x Group  participation   Summative  Assessment  –   x Written  answers  to  questions   x Peer  evaluation  forms     Learning  Experiences:       Introduction:   Reminder  of  where  we  left  off  on  Monday.    [The  Civil  War  was  started  at  Fort  Sumter;  states  had  to   choose  sides-­‐  “patriots”  or  “traitors”]    Today  we  are  going  to  learn  about  some  of  the  specific  features  of   the  North  and  the  South,  and  you  are  going  to  consider  how  those  features  might  be  advantages  or   disadvantages  to  each  region  during  the  Civil  War.          


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      76     Instructional  Activities:   1)    Explain  group  roles:    Teacher  will  pass  out  the  Group  Roles  paper,  and  explain  that  each  student  has   been  assigned  a  role.    Teacher  will  go  over  each  of  the  roles,  giving  examples  of  things  students  in  each   role  should  say  and  do.  [5  min]     2)    Explain  peer  evaluation:    Teacher  will  explain  the  peer  evaluation  that  will  take  place  at  the  end  of   class.    Scores  and  grading  process  will  be  explained.    Teacher  will  emphasize  that  there  should  be  no   pressuring  peers  to  give  a  certain  grade-­‐  if  you  want  the  full  points  you  need  to  demonstrate  that  by   listening,  participating,  and  performing  the  tasks  of  your  role.  [5  min]     3)    Explain  assignment:    Teacher  will  go  over  the  instructions  and  questions  for  the  day’s  assignment.     Emphasis  will  be  placed  on  the  fact  that  the  drawing  of  symbols  should  not  take  a  lot  of  time  (5  minutes   at  most-­‐  this  activity  is  meant  to  ensure  that  students  read  the  graph  carefully  and  understand  the   information  presented).    Teacher  will  also  explain  to  students  that  for  the  first  5  minutes  of  discussion   there  is  no  writing  allowed-­‐  groups  can  only  discuss.    After  5  minutes  is  up,  they  will  have  10  additional   minutes  to  continue  discussing  and  write  down  their  answers.  [5  min]       4)    Begin  symbol  drawing:    Students  will  begin  to  draw  symbols  for  each  of  the  features  on  the  chart.     After  5  minutes  they  will  be  told  they  need  to  move  on  to  the  next  part  of  the  assignment.  [5  min]     5)    Begin  discussion:    Students  will  begin  the  discussion.    For  the  first  5  minutes  they  will  not  be  allowed   to  write  anything.  [5  min]      6)    Continue  discussion  and  record  answers:    Students  will  be  given  10  minutes  in  which  they  can  finish   their  discussion  and  record  their  answers.    After  10  minutes,  the  teacher  will  collect  all  the  papers,  but   only  one  from  each  group  will  be  graded,  and  that  score  will  be  given  to  all  the  members  of  the  group.   [10  min]     7)    Peer  evaluation:    Students  will  complete  the  peer  evaluation  form.    They  will  be  instructed  that  there   should  be  no  talking  during  this  time.  [10  min]     Differentiation  and  Academic  Language:   x Academic  language:    Language  needs  in  this  lesson  will  be  supported  by  group  discussion  and   members  of  varying  ability  levels,  and  the  teacher  as  necessary.    The  graph  on  the  worksheet   helps  students  visually  see  the  differences  between  the  North  and  the  South,  and  the   requirement  to  draw  a  symbol  for  each  feature  allows  visual  learners  and  English  language   learners  to  understand  and  retain  the  information.     x Differentiation:    This  lesson  is  interactive  and  will  engage  all  students.    Students  will  be  placed  in   mixed  ability  groups,  allowing  struggling  students  to  benefit  from  their  higher  performing  peers.         Instructional  Materials:   x Worksheets   x Audio  recorders   x Document  camera   x Discussion  roles  handout   x Peer  evaluation  form    


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      77    

Comparing  Features  of  the  North  and  the  South     Directions:    Read  the  chart  below  that  lists  features  of  both  the  North  and  the  South.    Draw  a   symbol  in  each  box  that  will  help  you  remember  the  information  provided.    Use  this   information  to  discuss  different  advantages  that  each  region  had  during  the  Civil  War.         Feature  

Climate  and   Geography  

Population  

Cities  

Economy  

Culture  

Transportation  

 

North   South   ͻtĂƌŵƐƵŵŵĞƌƐ͕ƐŶŽǁLJǁŝŶƚĞƌƐ   ͻ,ŽƚƐƵŵŵĞƌƐ͕ŵŝůĚǁŝŶƚĞƌƐ͕ŚĞĂǀLJƌĂŝŶ   ͻZŽĐŬLJ͕ŚŝůůLJůĂŶĚŶŽƚŐŽŽĚĨŽƌĨĂƌŵŝŶŐ   ͻDĂŶLJǁŝĚĞ͕ƐůŽǁ-­‐moving  rivers  that   ͻDĂŶLJĨŽƌĞƐƚƐĨŽƌƚŝŵďĞƌ   were  easy  to  navigate   ͻDĂŶLJďĂLJƐĂŶĚŝŶůĞƚƐŽŶƚŚĞƚůĂŶƚŝĐ                         ͻZŝĐŚ͕ĨĞƌƚŝůĞƐŽŝůĨŽƌĨĂƌŵŝŶŐ   coast   ͻZŝǀĞƌƐĨĂƐƚ͕ƐŚĂůůŽǁ͕ŚĂƌĚƚŽŶĂǀŝŐĂƚĞ     ͻZĂƉŝĚƉŽƉƵůĂƚŝŽŶŐƌŽǁƚŚĨƌŽŵϭϴϬϬ-­‐ ͻWŽƉƵůĂƚŝŽŶŽĨϭϮŵŝůůŝŽŶŝŶϭϴϲϬ   1860   ͻϯ͘ϱŵŝůůŝŽŶĞŶƐůĂǀĞĚƉĞŽƉůĞ   ͻWŽƉƵůĂƚŝŽŶŽĨϯ1  million  by  1860   ͻDŽƐƚŝŶ^ŽƵƚŚǁĞƌĞƐŵĂůůĨĂƌŵĞƌƐ   ͻ/ƌŝƐŚ͕'ĞƌŵĂŶ͕ĂŶĚŽƚŚĞƌƵƌŽƉĞĂŶ ͻKŶůLJЬŽĨ^ŽƵƚŚĞƌŶĞƌƐŽǁŶĞĚƐůĂǀĞƐ   settlers  moved  to  the  North     ͻŝƚŝĞƐǁĞƌĞĐĞŶƚĞƌƐŽĨƚƌĂĚĞĂŶĚ   ͻDŽƐƚƉĞŽƉůĞůŝǀĞĚƐƉƌĞĂĚŽƵƚŽŶƐŵĂůů manufacturing  in  factories   farms   ͻLJϭϴϱϬ͕ϭϱйŽĨƉĞŽƉůĞůŝǀĞĚŝŶĐŝƚŝĞƐ   ͻKŶůLJĂĨĞǁůĂƌŐĞĐŝƚŝĞƐĚĞǀĞůŽƉĞĚ   ͻ^ŵĂůůƚŽǁŶƐŐƌĞǁƵƉŽŶƌŝǀĞƌƐĂŶĚ coast     ͻEŽƌƚŚĞƌŶĞĐŽŶŽŵLJǁĂƐďĂƐĞĚŽŶŵĂŶLJ ͻ^ŽƵƚŚĞƌŶĞĐŽŶŽŵLJǁĂƐŚĞĂǀŝůLJďĂƐĞĚ industries  (shipping,  textiles,  lumber,  furs,   on  agriculture   mining)   ͻĂƐŚĐƌŽƉƐǁĞƌĞĐŽƚƚŽŶ͕ƚŽďĂĐĐŽ͕ƌŝĐĞ͕ ͻĂƐĞĚŽŶŵĂŶƵĨĂĐƚƵƌŝŶŐ͕ŶŽƚĂŐƌŝĐƵůƚƵƌĞ   sugar,  and  indigo   ͻdŚĞEŽƌƚŚƚƌĂĚĞĚŵĂŶLJŐŽŽĚƐǁŝƚŚ ͻŐƌŝĐƵůƚƵƌĞƐƵƉƉŽƌƚĞd  slave  labor   foreign  countries   ͻŽƚƚŽŶǁĂƐƚŚĞŵŽƐƚŝŵƉŽƌƚĂŶƚĐƌŽƉ         ͻKƌŐĂŶŝnjĞĚƌĞůŝŐŝŽŶ   ͻ>ĂƌŐĞƉůĂŶƚĂƚŝŽŶŽǁŶĞƌƐĐŽŶƚƌŽůůĞĚ ͻWƵďůŝĐĞĚƵĐĂƚŝŽŶ   most  of  Southern  society   ͻKŶůLJďŽLJƐĨƌŽŵǁĞĂůƚŚLJĨĂŵŝůŝĞƐǁĞŶƚƚŽ ͻEĞŝƚŚĞƌƌĞůŝŐŝŽŶŽƌĞĚƵĐĂƚŝŽŶǁĂƐ college   organized   ͻMost  Southerners,  besides  the  very   rich,  had  little  to  no  education       ͻϮϮ͕ϬϬϬŵŝůĞƐŽĨƌĂŝůƌŽĂĚƚƌĂĐŬƐ   ͻϵ͕ϬϬϬŵŝůĞƐŽĨƌĂŝůƌŽĂĚƚƌĂĐŬƐ   ͻĂŶĂůƐƉƌŽǀŝĚĞĐŚĞĂƉƚƌĂŶƐƉŽƌƚĂƚŝŽŶ   ͻ^ƚĞĂŵďŽĂƚƐƵƐĞĚŽŶƌŝǀĞƌƐ   ͻĞƚƚĞƌƌŽĂĚƐĚĞǀĞůŽƉĞĚ      


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      78    

Together,  as  a  group,  answer  the  questions  below  based  on  the  information  in  the  chart  and   the  group  discussion.    I  will  only  collect  a  worksheet  from  one  person  in  each  group,  so  it  is  in   your  best  interest  to  help  each  other  out  and  discuss  the  best  possible  answers.    It  is  okay  to   disagree,  as  long  as  you  explain  your  answers  and  are  willing  to  hear  other  peoples’  points  of   view.    You  will  have  approximately  15  minutes  to  discuss  and  complete  the  below  questions.     Don’t  forget  to  perform  the  duties  of  your  discussion  role!     1.    What  are  some  of  the  main  differences  between  the  North  and  the  South?               2.    What  advantages  might  the  South  have  in  the  Civil  War?    What  is  the  South’s  greatest   advantage?    Why?               3.    What  advantages  might  the  North  have  in  the  Civil  War?    What  is  the  North’s  greatest   advantage?    Why?               4.    What  disadvantages  might  the  South  have  in  the  Civil  War?    What  is  the  South’s  greatest   disadvantage?    Why?               5.    What  disadvantages  might  the  North  have  in  the  Civil  War?    What  is  the  North’s  greatest   disadvantage?    Why?          


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      79    

Appendix I   Directions:    Discuss  the  following  questions  below.    Be  sure  to  use  the  accountable  talk  strategies  you  have  just   learned.     *What  were  some  of  the  important  events  leading  up  to  the  start  of  the  Civil  War?   *What  was  the  most  important  event?    Why?     Jill:   Well,  there  were  a  lot  of  important  events  that  led  to  the  start  of  the  Civil  War.    There  was  the     Compromise  of  1850,  which  upset  the  balance  of  free  and  slave  states  when  California  was  added  as  a     free  state.    That  made  the  South  angry.     Grace:       That  kind  of  relates  to  an  idea  I  had  of  something  else  that  made  the  South  mad.  [linking]       Remember  the  book  “Uncle  Tom’s  Cabin”?    It  was  all  about  how  horrible  slavery  was,  and  I  think  that     made  the  South  just  as  mad.     Jill:   That’s  true.    So  you  think  the  most  important  event  was  the  book  “Uncle  Tom’s  Cabin.”     [revoicing]     Grace:   No.    I  think  that  was  important,  but  probably  not  the  most  important  event.    I  think  the  thing  that     really  made  the  South  want  to  secede  from  the  Union  was  when  Abraham  Lincoln  got  elected.     Jill:   Oh,  that’s  a  good  point.    I  wonder  if  any  President  that  has  been  elected  during  our  lifetime  ever  made     half  of  the  country  so  upset?  [productive  questioning]     Grace:   Well,  there  was  the  election  of  2000  when  George  W.  Bush  got  elected  even  though  Al  Gore  had  more     popular  votes  than  he  did.    That  made  a  lot  of  people  angry.  [linking]     Jill:   Good  point!    At  least  that  election  didn’t  send  the  country  into  a  war.    So,  I  think  we  both  agree  that     Lincoln’s  election  was  the  most  important  event  leading  to  the  Civil  War.    We  have  to  explain  why  we     think  this  was  the  most  important.     Grace:       It  was  the  most  important  because  Lincoln  only  campaigned  in  the  Northern  states.     Jill:   Right.    So,  Lincoln  only  campaigned  in  the  Northern  states  [revoicing],  and  this  made  the  South  feel  like     they  had  no  political  power  or  representation  in  the  federal  government  [linking].     Grace:   Exactly.    And  because  they  felt  like  they  had  no  political  power,  they  decided  to  secede  from  the  United     States  and  start  their  own  government-­‐  the  Confederate  States  of  America.  [linking]     Jill:   How  do  you  think  this  applies  to  our  lives  today?  [productive  questioning]     Grace:       Hmm.    I  think  that  it  shows  us  that  politicians  really  have  to  reach  out  to  all  kinds  of  people  to  get  elected,       and  try  to  keep  the  entire  country  happy.       Jill:       Yeah,  I  agree  that  politicians  have  to  pay  attention  to  the  whole  country,  not  just  a  certain  section     [revoicing].    I  also  think  learning  about  this  gives  us  insight  into  ways  different  parts  of  the  country  are  still     very  different  today,  and  where  some  of  those  differences  come  from.  [linking]  

       


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      80    

Appendix J (continued on pages 80-87) May  8,  2009   AR  Lesson  3     1.    Review  accountable  talk  strategies  (make  sure  everyone  has  a  paper)     2.    Review  peer  evaluation  (accountable  talk  strategies,  new  column-­‐  explain  why)     3.    Remind  them  I  am  only  collecting  one  from  each  group  (this  is  only  2nd  grade  in  new  grade  book)     4.    Show  packet  on  doc  cam  to  explain  assignment         5.    Group  work  (only  about  10  minutes  per  song-­‐  3  songs  to  get  through)     6.    Peer  evaluation                                                                    


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Examining  Cooperative  Learning      82    

Lyrics  to  “Johnny  is  My  Darling”     Chorus:   Johnny  is  my  darling,  my  darling,  my  darling   Johnny  is  my  darling,  the  Union  Volunteer.     ‘Twas  on  a  sunny  morning,   The  brightest  of  the  year,   When  Johnny  came  to  my  town,   A  Union  Volunteer.     (Chorus)     As  he  came  marching  up  the  street,   The  bands  played  loud  and  clear;   And  everyone  came  out  to  greet     The  Union  Volunteer.     (Chorus)     With  proudly  waving  starry  flags   And  hearts  that  knew  no  fear;   He  came  to  fight  for  Freedom’s  rights,   A  Union  Volunteer.     (Chorus)     But  though  he’s  gone  to  glory  win,   And  I  left  lonely  here,   He’ll  soon  return  to  me  again   As  Cupid’s  Volunteer.                

 


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Examining  Cooperative  Learning      84    

Lyrics  to  “Marching  Song  of  the  First  Arkansas”     Oh,  we’re  the  bully  soldiers  of  the  “First  of  Arkansas”   We  are  fighting  for  the  Union,  we  are  fighting  for  the  law,   We  can  hit  the  Rebel  further  than  a  white  man  ever  saw,   As  we  go  marching  on.     Chorus:   Glory,  glory  hallelujah,   Glory,  glory  hallelujah,   Glory,  glory  hallelujah,   As  we  go  marching  on.     We  have  done  with  hoeing  cotton,  we  have  done  with  hoeing  corn,   We  are  colored  Yankee  soldiers,  now,  as  sure  as  you  are  born;   When  the  masters  hear  us  yelling,  they’ll  think  it’s  Gabriel’s  horn,   As  we  go  marching  on.     (Chorus)     Then  fall  in,  colored  brethren,  you’d  better  do  it  soon,   Don’t  you  hear  the  drum  a-­‐beating  the  Yankee  doodle  tune?   We  are  with  you  now  this  morning,  we’ll  be  far  away  at  noon,   As  we  go  marching  on.     (Chorus)                        


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Examining  Cooperative  Learning      86    

Lyrics  to  “Tenting  Tonight”     We’re  tenting  tonight  on  the  old  camp  ground,   Give  us  a  song  to  cheer   Our  weary  hearts,  a  song  of  home   And  friends  we  love  so  dear     We’ve  been  tenting  tonight  on  the  old  camp  ground,   Thinking  of  days  gone  by,   Of  the  loved  ones  at  home  that  gave  us  the  band,   And  the  tear  that  said,  “Goodbye!”     Chorus:   Many  are  the  hearts  that  are  weary  tonight,   Wishing  for  the  war  to  cease;   Many  are  the  hearts  that  are  looking  for  the  right   To  see  the  dawn  of  peace.   Tenting  tonight,  tenting  tonight,   Tenting  on  the  old  camp  ground,   Tenting  tonight,  tenting  tonight,   Tenting  on  the  old  camp  ground.     We’ve  been  fighting  tonight  on  the  old  camp  ground,   Many  are  lying  near;   Some  are  dead  and  some  are  dying,   Many  are  in  tears.     We  are  tired  of  war  on  the  old  camp  ground,   Many  are  dead  and  gone,   Of  the  brave  and  the  true  who’ve  left  their  homes,   Others  been  wounded  long.     (Chorus)                


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      87    

“Johnny  is  My  Darling”   1.    What  3  words  best  describe  the  mood  of  this  song?         2.    If  you  were  one  of  the  soldiers  in  the  picture,  how  would  this  song  make  you  feel?           3.    What  do  you  think  was  the  purpose  of  the  song?           “Marching  Song  for  the  First  Arkansas”   1.    What  three  words  best  describe  the  mood  of  this  song?         2.    What  do  you  think  was  the  purpose  of  the  song?           3.    What  are  some  reasons  African  Americans  might  want  to  join  the  Union  army?           “Tenting  Tonight”   1.    What  three  words  best  describe  the  mood  of  this  song?         2.    How  is  this  song  different  than  the  previous  two  songs?           3.    What  do  you  think  the  soldiers  in  the  picture  would  say  to  the  people  who  wrote  the   previous  two  songs?      


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      88    

Appendix K (continued on pages 88-93) May  12,  2009   AR  Lesson  4     1.    Explain  new  groups-­‐  As  you  can  see  you  are  in  groups  of  all  boys  and  all  girls.    Today  you  are  going  to   be  working  in  this  group,  but  I  am  not  going  to  say  that  you  have  to  use  roles  or  accountable  talk   strategies.    You  can  organize  it  however  you  like.    You  will  still  be  filling  out  group  evaluations  that  will   factor  into  your  grade,  and  I  will  still  be  only  collecting  one  worksheet  per  group  (everyone  in  the  group   will  receive  the  same  grade).     2.    Go  over  Emancipation  Proclamation  as  a  group-­‐  answering  the  questions  together  using  line   numbers.  (15  min)     3.    Introduce  2  images  by  Thomas  Nast-­‐  one  drawn  right  after  emancipation  and  one  drawn  2  years   later.     4.    Explain  group  procedure  and  go  over  group  evaluation  form.     5.    Groups  work  together.    5  minutes  of  pure  discussion,  no  writing.    10  more  minutes  to  finish  (15  min)     6.    Fill  out  group  evaluation  forms.  (10  min)  

                           

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      89    

The Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863 By the President of the United States of America: A Proclamation. Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit: "That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixtythree, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…” And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States [Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia], and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States… And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God… By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.            


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      90    

Emancipation  Proclamation   1.    Who  is  being  emancipated  (freed)?               2.    When  are  the  slaves  being  emancipated?               3.    What  does  President  Lincoln  ask  the  newly  freed  slaves  to  do?               4.    What  does  the  Emancipation  Proclamation  say  about  the  military?               5.    What  things  does  President  Lincoln  say  support  this  decision?                    


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Examining  Cooperative  Learning      93    

Directions:    Together,  as  a  group,  discuss  and  answer  the  questions  below  using  the  two  images   by  Thomas  Nast.    You  must  discuss  without  writing  for  5  minutes.    You  will  have  about  15   minutes  total  to  complete  the  questions.       Image  #1   1.    What  is  being  shown  on  the  left  side  of  the  drawing?  (be  specific!)             2.    What  is  being  shown  on  the  right  side  of  the  drawing?  (be  specific!)             3.    According  to  the  drawing,  how  will  life  be  better  for  African  Americans  after  they  are   emancipated?             Image  #2   1.    What  is  being  shown  in  this  illustration?  (be  specific!)             2.    How  would  Nast  answer  the  question,  “How  has  life  changed  for  African  Americans  since   emancipation?”  (hint:  look  at  the  words  included  in  the  drawing)             3.    From  looking  at  this  drawing,  what  can  you  predict  will  happen  for  African  Americans  in  the   years  after  emancipation?    

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      94    

Appendix L (continued on pages 94-97) May  15,  2009   AR  Lesson  5     1.    Yesterday  we  learned  about  how  the  Civil  War  ended.     Which  side  won?     What  was  the  very  important  battle  that  helped  end  the  war?     What  other  win  for  the  Union  occurred  on  that  day?     What  was  the  name  of  the  Union  General  who  had  his  men  destroy  southern  cities?   Yesterday  you  guys  answered  a  question  about  how  you  would  feel  if  you  lived  in  the  South  and  your   city  and  farm  had  been  destroyed.    Here  are  some  interesting  answers:  (read  them)     2.    These  were  some  of  the  same  things  people  were  feeling  right  after  the  Civil  War.    The  time  after  the   Civil  War  was  called  Reconstruction  because  the  US  had  to  figure  out  a  way  to  reunite  a  country  that  had   been  totally  divided.    Many  people  had  different  opinions  about  how  the  South  should  be  punished  and   how  the  freed  slaves  should  be  helped.     3.    President  Lincoln  started  making  a  plan  even  before  the  war  ended  –  ƚŚĞϭϬйƉůĂŶ͘     -­‐Southerners  were  officially  pardoned  if  they  swore  an  oath  of  loyalty  to  the  US  and  agreed  that     slavery  was  illegal.     -­‐ϭϬйŽĨǀŽƚĞƌƐŝŶĂƐƚĂƚĞŚĂĚƚŽŵĂŬĞƚŚĞƐĞƉůĞĚŐĞƐ͘dŚĞŶƚŚĞLJĐŽƵůĚĨŽƌŵĂŶĞǁŐŽǀ͛ƚĂŶĚďĞ   readmitted  to  the  Union.         -­‐Unfortunately,  Lincoln  gets  assassinated  and  doesn’t  get  to  carry  his  plan  out.     4.    Today  you  are  going  to  look  at  two  different  plans  for  Reconstruction  -­‐  one  from  President  Johnson   and  one  from  the  Radical  Republicans.  [give  directions]     5.    Today  you  will  also  be  performing  group  roles  in  your  new  groups.    Some  of  you  have  the  same  roles   as  last  time,  some  of  you  have  new  roles.    [Have  students  remind  the  duties  of  each  role]     6.    Like  always,  you  will  peer  evaluate  each  other  and  to  get  a  4  you  have  to  carry  out  all  the  duties  of   your  role.    I  will  also  only  collect  one  worksheet  from  each  group  again.    You  have  to  discuss  only,  no   writing  for  5  minutes,  you  will  have  about  15  minutes  to  finish  the  rest  of  the  worksheet.  

                         


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      95    

Report  Cards  on  Reconstruction     Directions:    For  each  Reconstruction  issue,  read  President  Johnson’s  plan  and  the  Radical  Republicans’   plan.    Discuss  with  your  group  members  the  strengths  and  weaknesses  of  each  plan.    Keep  in  mind  that   the  goal  of  Reconstruction  was  to  reunite  the  country  in  a  stable  and  fair  way.    Then,  give  each  plan  a   letter  grade,  and  answer  the  questions  that  follow.    Be  specific!    You  will  have  5  minutes  of  only   discussion  before  you  can  start  writing.       Grading  Scale   A  =  Excellent  plan,  no  weaknesses   B  =  Good  plan,  has  only  minor  weaknesses   C  =  Some  good  parts  and  some  weaknesses   D  =  Only  a  few  strengths  and  major  weaknesses   F  =  Plan  will  never  work     Reconstruction  Issue  #1:  What  should  be  done  to  Southerners  who  rebelled?     Radical  Republicans’  Plan   x

Southerners  should  be  punished  so  they  will  not  rebel  again.    One  idea   is  to  take  away  all  the  plantations  and  divide  up  the  land  among  the   freed  slaves.   x Leaders  of  the  South  should  lose  their  governmental  positions.    A  new   set  of  leaders  should  be  brought  in  to  reconstruct  the  South.    Any   person  who  held  a  leadership  position  before  the  war  cannot  hold   public  office  until  he  is  pardoned  (forgiven)  by  Congress.   This  plan  deserves  a  grade  of  _________.   President  Johnson’s  Plan   x x x

Southerners  have  to  take  an  oath  (verbal  promise)  to  support,  protect,  and  defend  the   Constitution  of  the  United  States.    The  oath  also  includes  a  promise  to  obey  all  laws  passed   during  the  war,  especially  regarding  emancipation  (freeing)  of  the  slaves.   Confederate  officers,  large  landholders,  and  any  other  leaders  of  the  pre-­‐war  South  have  to  seek   a  special  pardon  if  they  want  to  regain  their  rights  as  citizens.   Lincoln’s  idea  of  “malice  (hatred)  toward  none”  is  a  good  one.    Being  easy  on  the  South  will  heal   the  wounds  of  the  nation  more  effectively  and  quickly.  

  This  plan  deserves  a  grade  of  _________.  

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      96     1.    Whose  plan  for  Southerners  who  rebelled  is  better?    Why?  (be  specific!)           2.    What  is  the  worst  part  of  the  other  plan?    Why?       Reconstruction  Issue  #2:  What  should  Southern  states  be  required  to  do  to  be  re-­‐admitted  into  the   Union?     Radical  Republicans’  Plan   x x

Southern  states  had  given  up  their  right  to  be  a  state  by  seceding  from   the  union.    They  need  to  be  punished  for  their  actions.   In  order  to  come  back  into  the  union  as  a  state,  a  southern  state  would   have  to  meet  these  conditions:   -­‐-­‐Call  a  convention  to  write  a  new  state  constitution.   -­‐-­‐Guarantee  African  Americans  full  rights  as  citizens.   -­‐-­‐Guarantee  African  Americans  the  right  to  vote.   -­‐-­‐Former  Confederate  officials  and  army  officers  could  not  vote  on             these  issues.  

x The  states  would  be  ruled  by  the  military  until  all  laws  were  enforced.   This  plan  deserves  a  grade  of  _________.   President  Johnson’s  Plan   x x

Individual  leaders  of  the  Southern  states  –  not  the  states  themselves  –  had  made  the  decisions   to  secede.    Therefore,  states  should  not  be  punished  harshly  for  secession.    It  is  in  the  best   interest  of  the  country  to  reunite  all  states  as  quickly  and  easily  as  possible.   In  order  to  come  back  into  the  union,  Southern  states  would  have  to  meet  these  conditions:   -­‐-­‐Call  a  convention  to  write  a  new  state  constitution.   -­‐-­‐Do  away  with  secession.   -­‐-­‐Cancel  all  Confederate  debts.   -­‐-­‐Approve  the  13th  Amendment,  which  abolished  slavery.  

x

Once  the  above  conditions  were  met,  Southerners  are  allowed  to  run  their  own  states,  hold   elections,  and  send  representatives  to  Congress.   This  plan  deserves  a  grade  of  _________.  

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      97     1.    Whose  plan  for  re-­‐admitting  Southern  states  into  the  Union  is  better?    Why?  (be  specific!)           2.    What  is  the  worst  part  of  the  other  plan?    Why?           Reconstruction  Issue  #3:  What  should  be  done  for  the  freed  slaves?     Radical  Republicans’  Plan   x

African  Americans  should  be  guaranteed  equal  rights  and  be  assisted  in   establishing  new  lives  as  free  people.    Congress  should  pass  laws   giving  some  land  to  the  freed  slaves  and  build  schools  for  them.    In   fact,  it  is  Congress’s  duty  to  help  out  African  Americans  until  they  can   provide  for  themselves.   x Freed  slaves  will  only  receive  justice  and  security  if  they  are  considered   full  citizens  –  just  like  whites  –  under  the  law.    Many  feel  the  right  to   vote  is  the  key.   x The  military  should  have  control  over  enforcing  all  laws  helping  the   freed  slaves.    Without  troops  in  the  South,  Radical  Republicans  fear   that  Southerners  will  simply  ignore  the  new  laws  and  continue  to   discriminate  against  the  freed  slaves.   This  plan  deserves  a  grade  of  _________.   President  Johnson’s  Plan   x

African  Americans  should  be  guaranteed  equal  rights  only  if  individual  states  want  to  grant  them   to  the  freed  slaves.    The  federal  government  should  not  force  Southern  governments  to  accept   new  laws  regarding  the  freed  slaves.    Whether  or  not  the  freed  slaves  ought  to  be  given  land,   education,  or  assistance  is  up  to  each  state.   x African  Americans  should  not  be  guaranteed  the  right  to  vote.    Only  certain  African  Americans   should  be  given  the  vote,  like  those  who  can  read  or  write.   This  plan  deserves  a  grade  of  _________.     1.    Whose  plan  for  freed  slaves  is  better?    Why?  (be  specific!)         2.    What  is  the  worst  part  of  the  other  plan?    Why?          


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      98    

Appendix M (continued on pages 98-103) May  21,  2009   AR  Lesson  6     Context:       This  lesson  is  part  of  the  unit  on  Reconstruction  after  the  Civil  War.    The  students  have  recently  finished   the  unit  on  the  Civil  War,  and  have  begun  to  learn  about  Reconstruction.    Today  they  will  be  introduced   to  Jim  Crow  laws,  the  idea  of  “separate  but  equal,”  and  the  Ku  Klux  Klan.    After  this  lesson  they  will  learn   about  how  Reconstruction  ultimately  failed,  and  how  the  hardships  African  Americans  faced  for   decades.    This  lesson  also  serves  as  the  last  intervention  for  my  action  research  project.    Students  will  be   required  to  use  accountable  talk  strategies  (which  they  have  already  learned  and  used  once  before)  in   gender-­‐alike  cooperative  groups.    After  this  lesson  students  will  be  filling  out  a  peer  evaluation  form  that   also  asks  them  about  their  impression  of  the  accountable  talk  strategies.       Content  Standard:   History  Standard  8.11.3  “Understand  the  effects  of  the  Freemen’s  Bureau  and  the  restrictions  placed  on   the  rights  and  opportunities  of  freedmen,  including  racial  segregation  and  ‘Jim  Crow  laws’.”   History  Standard  8.11.4  “Trace  the  rise  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  and  describe  the  Klan’s  effects.”     Instructional  Objective:   Students  will  understand  the  idea  of  “separate  but  equal”  and  how  Jim  Crow  laws  did  not  provide   equality  to  African  Americans  in  any  way.    They  will  consider  how  people  reacted  to  the  Ku  Klux  Klan.     They  will  empathize  with  the  emotions  of  African  Americans  during  Reconstruction  through  a  written   diary  entry.    Finally,  they  will  practice  using  accountable  talk  strategies  aimed  to  improve  participation   and  meaningful  student  discourse.     Theoretical  Foundation:   This  lesson  builds  strongly  on  the  theory  of  the  zone  of  proximal  development,  in  which  students  will   learn  more  through  interaction  with  peers.    As  the  students  discuss  and  consider  multiple  perspectives   they  will  stretch  their  thinking  and  grow  their  understanding.    This  lesson  provides  students  a  chance  to   experience  historical  empathy  by  asking  them  to  consider  emotions  and  feelings  of  African  Americans   during  Reconstruction.    This  lesson  also  uses  a  discussion  strategy,  accountable  talk,  aimed  to  improve   participation  and  meaningful  student  discourse.     Evidence  of  Understanding/Assessment:     Formative  assessments  –   x Group  discussions   x Group  participation   Summative  Assessment  –   x Written  answers  to  questions   x Peer  evaluation  forms     Learning  Experiences:       Introduction:   Reminder  of  what  we  discussed  yesterday.    Who  was  the  Freedmen’s  Bureau  created  to  help?    In  what   ways  did  it  try  to  help  them?    What  was  the  13th  Amendment?    The  14th?    The  15th?  [5  min]    


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      99       Instructional  Activities:   1)    Review  accountable  talk  strategies:    Teacher  will  ask  students  to  get  out  their  accountable  talk   strategies  paper.    Teacher  will  ask  students  to  describe  each  of  the  three  accountable  talk  strategies  and   ask  them  to  provide  examples.  [5  min]     -­‐If  I  say,  “After  the  Civil  War  African  Americans  were  granted  more  rights,”  give  me  an  example     of  a  linking  response.    (students  offer  ideas)     -­‐If  I  say,  “One  goal  of  the  Freedmen’s  Bureau  was  to  provide  African  Americans  with  education,”     give  me  an  example  of  a  revoicing  response.  (students  offer  ideas)     -­‐What  is  an  example  of  a  productive  question  that  could  be  asked  on  this  topic?     2)    Explain  peer  evaluation:    Teacher  remind  students  of  the  peer  evaluation  that  will  take  place  at  the   end  of  class.    Scores  and  grading  process  will  be  explained.    Teacher  will  emphasize  that  there  should  be   no  pressuring  peers  to  give  a  certain  grade-­‐  if  you  want  the  full  points  you  need  to  demonstrate  that  by   listening,  participating,  and  trying  to  use  accountable  talk  strategies.  [5  min]     3)    Explain  assignment:    Teacher  will  provide  introduction  to  the  assignment  and  go  through  it  with  the   class,  emphasizing  where  groups  should  engage  in  discussion.    Teacher  will  also  explain  to  students  that   for  the  first  5  minutes  of  discussion  there  is  no  writing  allowed-­‐  groups  can  only  discuss.    After  5  minutes   is  up,  they  will  have  15  additional  minutes  to  continue  discussing  and  write  down  their  answers.     Teacher  will  explain  that  today,  because  of  the  diary  entry  requirement,  she  will  be  collecting   worksheets  from  each  student.  [5  min]       4)    Begin  assignment:    Students  will  begin  the  assignment  by  discussing  for  5  minutes.    During  this  time   they  will  not  be  allowed  to  write  anything.  [5  min]      5)    Continue  discussion  and  record  answers:    Students  will  be  given  15  minutes  in  which  they  can  finish   their  discussion  and  record  their  answers.    [15  min]     7)    Peer  evaluation:    Students  will  complete  the  peer  evaluation  form.    They  will  be  instructed  that  there   should  be  no  talking  during  this  time.  [10  min]     Differentiation  and  Academic  Language:   x Academic  language:    Language  needs  in  this  lesson  will  be  supported  by  group  discussion  and   members  of  varying  ability  levels,  and  the  teacher  as  necessary.    The  photograph  helps  visual   learners  see  a  representation  of  what  they  are  reading,  and  will  assist  English  language  learners   in  understanding  the  content.     x Differentiation:    This  lesson  is  interactive  and  will  engage  all  students.    Students  will  be  placed  in   mixed  ability  groups,  allowing  struggling  students  to  benefit  from  their  higher  performing  peers.         Instructional  Materials:   x Packets   x Audio  recorders   x Document  camera   x Accountable  talk  strategies  handout   x Peer  evaluation  form    


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      100    

Jim  Crow  Laws       Jim  Crow  laws  were  laws  that  enforced  segregation,  or  the  forced  separation  of  whites   and  African  Americans  in  public  places.    They  were  most  common  in  southern  states,  but   almost  every  state  in  the  US  had  a  form  of  Jim  Crows  laws  at  one  time  or  another.    Jim  Crow   laws  lasted  from  1876  –  1965.    The  laws  were  made  to  enforce  “separate  but  equal”  public   facilities  for  people  based  on  race.    

 

 

This  picture  is  an  example  of  “separate  but  equal”  drinking  fountains.    TASK  1:    Discuss  this   picture  with  your  group  and  answer  the  following  questions:     1.      What  do  you  notice  about  this  picture?           2.    What  does  this  picture  tell  us  about  “separate  but  equal”  Jim  Crow  laws  and  how  they  were   actually  carried  out?    


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      101    

TASK  2:    Read  the  below  examples  of  actual  Jim  Crow  laws  from  different  southern  states.    Also   read  the  etiquette  rules  that  follow  (etiquette  rules  are  expectations  for  how  you  should  act).     x Barbers.    No  colored  barber  shall  serve  as  a  barber  (to)  white  girls  or  women  (Georgia).   x Burial.    The  officer  in  charge  shall  not  bury,  or  allow  to  be  buried,  any  colored  persons   upon  ground  set  apart  or  used  for  the  burial  of  white  persons  (Georgia).   x Buses.    All  passenger  stations  in  this  state  operated  by  any  motor  transportation   company  shall  have  separate  waiting  rooms  or  space  and  separate  tickets  windows  for   the  white  and  colored  races  (Alabama).   x Education.    The  schools  for  white  children  and  the  schools  for  negro  children  shall  be   conducted  separately  (Florida).   x Nurses.    No  person  or  corporation  shall  require  any  White  female  nurse  to  nurse  in   wards  or  rooms  in  hospitals,  either  public  or  private,  in  which  negro  men  are  placed   (Alabama).   x Teaching.    Any  instructor  who  shall  teach  in  any  school,  college  or  institution  where   members  of  the  white  and  colored  race  are  received  and  enrolled  as  pupils  for   instruction  shall  be  deemed  guilty  of  a  misdemeanor,  and  upon  conviction  thereof,  shall   be  fined…  (Oklahoma).   Etiquette Rules x

A black male cannot offer to shake hands with a white male because it implies social equality. x Blacks and whites should not eat together. If they do eat together, whites are served first. x Blacks are not allowed to show public affection toward one another in public, especially kissing, because it offends whites. x Whites do not use titles of respect when referring to blacks (Mr., Mrs., Miss, Sir, Ma’am). Instead blacks are called by their first names. Instead, blacks are called by their first names. Blacks have to use courtesy titles when referring to whites, and are not allowed to call them by their first names. x If a black person rides in a car with a white person, the black person must sit in the back seat, or the back of the truck. x White drivers have the right-of-way at all intersections.   1.    How  would  these  laws  and  rules  make  you  feel  if  you  were  an  African  American  at  the  time?         2.    Which  of  these  laws  or  etiquette  rule  is  the  most  shocking  to  you?    Why?         3.    Jim  Crow  laws  were  created  to  make  separate  but  equal  facilities  for  whites  and  African   Americans.    Did  they  accomplish  this?    Explain  your  answer.    


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      102    

Ku  Klux  Klan       Discrimination  against  African  Americans  did  not  end  with  Jim  Crow  laws.    The  Ku  Klux   Klan  is  an  organization  that  promotes  white  supremacy  and  racial  segregation  (separation).     Founded  during  the  Reconstruction  period,  the  Klan’s  official  membership  reach  4.5  million  by   1924.    For  decades  the  Klan  used  intimidation,  violence,  and  lynchings  (hanging)  to  attempt  to   stop  African  Americans  and  sympathetic  whites  from  seeking  equal  rights.    TASK  3:    Discuss  the   picture  below  of  a  member  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  during  the  Reconstruction  era  and  answer  the   questions.    

    1.    Why  do  you  think  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  wore  this  type  of  outfit?             2.    When  else  in  history  has  a  group  of  people  tried  to  use  fear  to  oppress  another  group  of   people?  (There  is  not  one  right  or  wrong  answer  to  this  question)  

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      103    

TASK  4:    Considering  everything  you  have  learned  today,  write  a  six  sentence  diary  entry  as  if   you  were  in  African  American  living  in  the  South  during  Reconstruction.    Before  you  write,   discuss  with  your  group:     What  emotions  would  you  feel?   How  do  Jim  Crow  laws  affect  your  everyday  life?   How  does  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  affect  your  everyday  life?   What  actions  might  you  take  to  improve  your  rights?    

                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Examining  Cooperative  Learning      104    

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http://www.sandiego.edu/soles/documents/Cooperative_Learning