You Be The Teacher: A Cooperative Learning Strategy

Today I was reminded of how much I enjoy using cooperative learning in my classroom and the power of it!  My fourth grade class is learning how to multiply 3 and 4-digit numbers by a 1-digit number.  Yes, I am just now teaching multi-digit multiplication.  We did geometry before the multiplication unit, because they weren’t fluent enough with their multiplication facts.  Now that I have justified that, I want to share the power of a certain cooperative learning strategy! 🙂

This was an impromptu strategy that I wanted to test out.  I introduced the strategy by telling them that we were going to “play school”.  One student was going to be the “teacher” while the other one was going to be the “student”.

I asked for a volunteer to be the teacher, while I was the student.  They came up to the front of the room and we modeled, to the rest of the class, how the strategy worked.  I pretended that I had no idea how to multiply 345 x 5.  The “teacher”, who was actually the student, had to guide me step-by-step on how to find the product.

After students got the gist, I let them go!

Cooperative Learning Teacher Student
 

Cooperative Learning Teacher Student 3
 Today was the very first time that they have done this, and I was so VERY proud of them!  Each and every one of them took their role seriously.  Each partner took turns being the teacher and student.    They had FUN!  Fun??  Yes, they had fun!  They had fun practicing multiplication!

Cooperative Learning Teacher Student 2
 

I did have a group of three, and I was especially proud of them!  For each round of practice, there was one teacher and two students.  The teacher had to multi-task (sounds like real-life) by teaching and keeping track of two students at a time!

Here is an easy-to-follow graphic with directions on how to implement the strategy.

I mentioned that each and every one of my students enjoyed this strategy.  You may be wondering how I came to this conclusion.  Since it was the first time that we did this, I actually had them all cover their eyes and give me a thumbs up if they liked it or a thumbs down if they didn’t like it.  It kind of surprised me, because they are all different, but they ALL gave a thumbs up!  Those thumbs were like fireworks for me!  I was so proud of them for how they took each of their roles and went with them.  I was even more proud of those that left their comfort zone and enjoyed it!

Have you used a similar strategy in your classroom?  If you haven’t would you be willing to give it a try?

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