"The past 10 years have been really bad. The only good news is that the
way kids eat in school is getting so bad that people are finally paying
Director, Food Studies Institute
Teacher: Didn't you promise to behave?
Student: Yes, sir.
Teacher: And didn't I promise to punish you if you didn't?
Student: Yes, sir, but since I broke my promise, I don't expect you to
3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back
How do you know if you are a success as a teacher? Do you measure it
from within or without? How do you teach your students to measure their
success? Are your answers to these questions congruent?
Every 19 hours a young person under 25 dies from an HIV infection.
Spotted on a Chevy Blazer heading north on I-75 near Flint, MI:
"There is no permanent record."
6. Article: Labs in Cooperation [back
Labs in Cooperation
By Chick Moorman
Teachers hold different views on cooperative learning. Some see it as
one of many very important tools for effective teaching. Others see it
as an idea whose time has passed. Some teachers perceive this strategy
as stimulating and rewarding. Others see it as a lot of work. Educators
choose to see cooperative learning as helpful, time consuming, frustrating,
challenging, or as a wonderful opportunity to help students learn interpersonal
Whatever view teachers take of cooperative learning when they enter
one of my trainings, I ask them to take responsibility for it. I then
invite them to perceive cooperative learning from a different point of
view. I challenge them to see each cooperative learning lesson as a laboratory
Remember your own eighth-grade general science labs? I remember mine.
I was given batteries, bulbs, wires, a worksheet, and a lab partner. I
was expected to work collaboratively, manipulate the materials, and make
interesting discoveries. The goal was to fill my science notebook with
appropriate answers and learn important scientific concepts in the process.
My partner and I made numerous mistakes. We touched wires to batteries
and bulbs and got nothing. We wrote that down. We discussed our experience,
reevaluated, and connected a different combination of batteries, wires,
and bulbs. Still nothing. We recorded our findings again. Through the
processes of elimination and improved thinking, we eventually discovered
the correct combination. The light finally went on, both in front of us
and inside our heads. We recorded that observation.
It was in a lab that I learned the valuable lesson that you can get
as much information from an incorrect response as you can from a correct
one. The lab was a place where mistakes were valued and expected - so
expected that extra supplies were provided in case we broke, dismantled,
or burned something up. The entire lab experience seemed to be orchestrated
so that we could learn from the two greatest teachers in the world, "trial"
Please see your efforts with cooperative learning as a lab, a lab in
cooperation. Yes, cooperative learning experiences can be viewed as mini-labs
where students practice interpersonal skills and sometimes make errors.
They will not always take turns, disagree politely, stay on task, or offer
help without giving the answer. They will, on occasion, put each other
down, lose track of time, or fail to finish their work. Value these interpersonal
skill mistakes as you would any errors made in a lab setting. See them
as data you can use to help students learn interpersonal skills. When
you notice students making a mistake, help them process the experience,
asking debriefing questions that require them to self-assess. Use the
data you get from observing their interpersonal mistakes to determine
which group skills need to be taught, reviewed, or brought to greater
consciousness. Share your observations with your students, and ask them
to reflect on their behavior and the results it produced.
In a science lab, it's all perfect. Students are either coming up with
correct answers or they're making mistakes. Each possibility is perfect
for learning the concept or for giving students the data they need to
readjust and make a fresh attempt at learning the concept.
Likewise, in cooperative groups, it's all perfect. Students are cooperating
and being interpersonally effective or they are making interpersonal errors.
Each is perfect for giving you the data you need to design an appropriate
Choose to see cooperative learning experiences as labs in cooperation.
If you do, eventually the wires will connect and the lights will go on!
(Special note: If you are looking for an incredible skill-based cooperative
learning training that offers graduate credit this summer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will let you know
what's available in your area. Performance Learning Systems instructors
offer a 3-hour
graduate course in cooperative learning in several states throughout
the country. It's a high-impact, high-energy course that emphasizes adapting
cooperative learning skills to your specific situation.)
Don't get caught with your pants down. Have you arranged for your back-to-school
speaker yet? Now is the time.
7. You Gotta Be Kidding Me Department
It is particularly difficult to improve schools using federal leverage.
US Secretary of Education Rod Paige says his strongest weapon for reform
is shame. According to George Will, New York Post columnist, by "shame,"
Secretary Paige means the power to embarrass states if their results on
the National Assessment of Educational Progress reveal that they are not
progressing. This shaming power is the principal lever created by the
No Child Left Behind Act.
Shame as a school improvement tool? Whose idea was this? Part of me
wants to say, "Shame on you," but I don't believe shame is a helpful way
to build positive results or to help people learn. So I guess I'm stuck
with, "You've gotta be kidding me."
8. Manage Your Subscription [back
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9. We Get Email
" In response to your discussion on the place of opinion in history
lessons the last two issues, I just have to comment. I am a special education
teacher and I co-teach in a middle school classroom. The teacher I teach
with is AWESOME.
"He makes the kids THINK! He found a wonderful curriculum called
History Alive. This series makes kids think, act, draw, listen, and really
puts the kids into the shoes of the people in our past. There is some
To find out more about books, tapes, and materials by Chick Moorman,
contact him at (toll-free) 877-360-1477 or on the web at www.chickmoorman.com.
Subscriber comments, ideas, and concerns are valued. Email your
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To find out more about workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses
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the web at www.chickmoorman.com.
Copyright 2003 Chick Moorman Seminars, all rights reserved. Share
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