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Five Levels of Cooperative Learning
Activities for Adult Learners

Level A
Adult learners can participate in Level A cooperative learning activities even if they are not in the same place at the same time.

  1. A group poem that grows as new lines/stanzas are added: In the following poem, the first line lists people who have been influential in each adult's life; the following lines list what each of these influential persons did. Learners in different classes or even those who are in tutoring situations can add their influential person and what that person did for them to the group poem.
    Mrs. Hooper, Old Sam, Mom, Lill
    They all made us who we are;
    Making us sit still and listen,
    Showing us not to be afraid of hard work
    Having faith that we could be somebody,
    Smiling even when times were bad;
    And now duty calls to us.

  2. Learner-generated lessons: One learner could read a story and select from it eight key words or short phrases that capture the essence of the story (Denner and McGinley, 1986). This could be given to another learner (working with a different tutor, in a different class or in the same class). This second student would then develop a story line based on these words and phrases. The story could be written by or dictated by this second student. Then this student reads the actual story and compares his version to what the author wrote. The student who designed the lesson also has an opportunity to read the second student's story and compare it to what the author wrote. Another student-generated lesson could be a version of Stauffer's (1976) Directed Reading-Thinking Activity. Have Student A read a story and select three places where it would be good to have Student B stop and predict what would happen next.

    Often time tutors and their adult learners feel isolated, especially if the tutoring takes place away from the adult education center. Combine student/tutor pairs for an interactive activity, like the two just mentioned, possible even if the learners never meet face to face. Although this activity requires organization by the tutor trainer, it helps to establish a sense of community among learners who are basically working in isolated environments.

  3. Creation of a adult learner newssheet: Rather than call it a newspaper which may seem overpowering to teachers or learners who have not done this before, a class may create a monthly (or even quarterly to begin with) newssheet. Specific "columns" can be established and students can submit their contributions.

  4. Creation of an adult learner anthology: Adult education students from various classes in the program can contribute to an anthology of writings. The anthology may have a particular student-chosen theme such as "We Remember..." or "Our Dreams;" however, most anthologies of student writings are inclusive of whatever the writer wants to submit. Teachers can enhance the cooperative nature of this activity by having students very involved in the production of the anthology and by having an authors' night autographing party.

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