Teaching Strategies

Consensus: Co-operative Learning

The teacher divides the class into groups of any number between 3 and 6 and explains how to do the learning activity to the students. Each group will need a sheet of paper. The topic for discussion is written on the whiteboard.

  1. Each group draws a large shape with the same number of sides as there are people in the group. For example, a group of three would draw a triangle, a group of four a square.
  2. Draw a large margin inside this shape and mark off a section for each person.
  3. Each person in the group takes a turn at making a statement or giving an opinion on the topic.
  4. If everyone in the group agrees with the statement/opinion then the person writes it in the centre of the shape.
  5. Any statement that is not agreed on by the whole group is written in the person's individual section.
  6. The whole class then shares statements agreed on and if time discusses those statements in individual sections.

Consensus diagram for a group of four people discussing the topic:
"Watching television helps you learn to speak English".

Professional readings on the value of co-operative learning:

  1. Cooperative Learning in the Secondary School: Maximizing Language Acquisition, Academic Achievement, and Social Development
    When we combine what we know about the value of cooperative learning structures with what we know about what works for ESOL students, we can more effectively meet the needs of these students.