. . . Group talk has little educational value if students are not taught effective ways of talking together and if they don't know how to develop strategies for thinking collectively.

Mercer, N. 1995. The guided construction of knowledge: Talk amongst teachers and learners. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

We know that student learning is enhanced when there are many opportunities to elaborate on initial ideas through talk. In this section of the website you will find some instructional structures or strategies, such as collaborative learning and inquiry-based learning, that have been shown to be particularly effective in promoting the kind of talk that supports learning.

Collaborative learning is based on the idea that it is through talk that learning occurs. The term "collaborative learning" refers to an instruction method in which students work together in small groups toward a common goal such as solving a problem or answering a question. The students are responsible for one another’s learning as well as their own. Thus, the success of one student helps other students to be successful.

From literature circles to "jigsaw" strategies and inquiry circles, the applications of collaborative learning to the language arts classroom are rich, varied, and exciting. Collaborative activities can increase student achievement, boost motivation, add variety and interest, and allow for instruction that targets students’ needs, interests, and aptitudes.

Students need to take part in engaging, meaningful projects and activities that require collaboration.



Find out more about the basic elements of cooperative learning from Johnson and Johnson.

Check out some concrete classroom examples of students using the Jigsaw Cooperative Learning Technique, to explore a variety of texts.

An excerpt from Teaching for Meaningful Learning: A Review of Research on Inquiry-Based and Cooperative Learning by Brigid Barron and Linda Darling-Hammond can be downloaded here.

Read Write Think offers a strategy guide for socratic seminars as well as a guide for using the jigsaw technique as a cooperative learning strategy.

The Teaching Channel has video resources on student-centered discusssion such as the pinwheel discussion and student-centered whole group discussions.

Download the infographic Collaborative Learning: Activities and Strategies.


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