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Five Levels of Cooperative Learning
Activities for Adult Learners

Level B
Learning activities such as sharing journal writing, sharing learning logs, predicting activities, and goal setting/assessing lend themselves well to small group work where the group is only together for a session or two and where the learners may have widely different ability levels. Establishing a group for a single session for the purpose of learning a strategy is another Level B type of cooperative group activity. Members of the group can be learners with widely different abilities since the purpose of the group is to learn a strategy that can be used with a wide variety of texts. The teacher explains the strategy and demonstrates it with a text easy enough for all group members to understand. Then the students work on their individual assignments, using the strategy they have just learned. At the end of the session, all group members get back together to share with one another "how it went." Perhaps some of the adults modified the strategy in some way to make it more useful and can share that. If the strategy didn't seem to work, groups members can discuss what they think the problem might have been.

  1. Knowledge guide: One strategy that might be used is the Knowledge Guide Strategy. Students divide their paper into four columns. In the first the list what they already know about the topic that they're going to read about. In the second column they list 3-5 questions that they think might be answered by this reading selection. In the third column they record their answers to the questions. In the fourth column readers record questions that they still wonder about. Did their reading bring any additional questions to mind that were not answered in the selection? Other sources can then be consulted. Each of the columns can be divided. In the bottom half of the first column, learners can place information that they knew before reading but didn't recall until they encountered it again as they read the selection. In the bottom of column 3 learners can be directed to record several important ideas that they learned that they had not written a question about in column 2. In the bottom half of column 2 they can practice their question-asking a second time: as they look at the information they recorded in the bottom half of column 3, they can develop a question for each idea. In the bottom half of column 4 learners can note any problems that they had with the reading, anything that was not clearly explained, or anything they didn't understand. This Knowledge Guide strategy is a an extensive modification of the work of Donna Ogle (1986).

    click here to see a sample guide

  2. Vocabulary columns: Vocabulary Columns is another strategy to explain to a small group. The learners could then use it independently. In column 1, the adult writes the word to be learned. In column 2, a special association (a hint) related to the meaning of the word and that will help the adult to remember the word that is recorded. In column 3 an antonym is listed and in column 4, a synonym or definition is written. When studying the words, the adult exposes first column 1, then 2, if necessary, and finally 3 and 4, if necessary.

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