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3 Ways to Boost Cooperative Learning with Unruly Splats

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Cooperative learning is a popular topic in education and a term we hear a lot at Unruly Splats. Here’s a quick look at what cooperative learning is, what the benefits are, and how you can think about incorporating some Unruly cooperative learning strategies into your school or classroom. 

What is Cooperative Learning?

Cooperative learning is an environment where students work in small groups to achieve a shared goal. This could be as simple as working in small groups to create an epic LEGO city, or creating a group relay game by coding Unruly Splats. 

collaborative learning with unruly splats
Students work in small groups to collaborate on their game in Eric Turrill's PE class at Round Hill Elementary

What does Cooperative Learning look like in a Classroom?

Cooperative learning in the classroom gives students ownership over their learning while the teacher coaches groups along. However groups are organized, students should be talking with one another and collaborating on the task. Since students are working together, the classroom may become noisy-- and that is fantastic! Cooperative learning in the classroom is all about facilitating students to share their ideas, ask questions, and play together. 

Unlike a traditional classroom setup where students sit at individual desks all facing the front of the room, cooperative learning in the classroom is easiest when students can face each other in their groups. One Grade 4 teacher organizes students into groups of 4 desks facing each other, making sure all students can see the board at the front of the room. All the desk groups have “work stations” in the center that includes supplies and instructions for each group.

What Are The Benefits of Cooperative Learning?

Research by Beesley and Apthortp in their book “Classroom Instruction That Works, 2nd Edition”, found that “students in cooperative conditions performed better on academic assessments than those in individual conditions”. According to a 1992 study by Johnson & Johnson, cooperative activities compared with competitive and individualistic efforts typically results in greater psychological health, social competence, and self-esteem.

These benefits apply across all age levels and subjects so whatever grade or class you are teaching, incorporating cooperative learning into your lessons could have a positive impact. According to teacher feedback, some students who were the least engaged in class before, become some of the most engaged when they use Splats in a cooperative learning environment.

Strategies for Incorporating Cooperative Learning in the Classroom 

To facilitate successful cooperative activities in the classroom, here are a few tips:

  1. Create challenging problems: If it’s too easy, students won’t be engaged in the activity. Make sure the activity is challenging enough to get students buzzing about possible solutions.

  2. Discuss what makes a great team: As a class, discuss how teammates should talk to each other and respect each other’s ideas and thoughts. Talk through what a good team looks like and how to be respectful when there are disagreements.

  3. Facilitate discussion within the groups: Encourage students to discuss their thoughts and ideas with each other as they work. This will empower your students to flex their communication muscles as they work together to engage with the exercise.

Cooperative Learning + Coding with Unruly Splats

At Unruly Splats, we want students to play and make their own rules, all while learning fundamental computational thinking and STEM skills! We understand that not all group work is the same, so there are multiple ways to use Slats in a cooperative learning environment:

  1. Small groups, building different parts of a larger game: For example, one group might be working on the function of stopwatches for timed race while another group is setting up the rules of play and another group is coding the coolest victory light show to play at the end of the race. Together, they make a Splatastic relay race and a full experience designed the entire class.
  1. Small groups, working on the same game: In one classroom, students broke out into small groups to all work on a race in place game. At the end, the entire class broke into two big groups and played it as a relay race where each kid took turns “racing in place with splats” for 10 seconds against another student to see who get could the most points! 

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  1. Small groups, each building their own game and introducing them to each other: During one of our after school pilots with Citizen Schools, students worked in teams of 4 to create their own games and then presented the rules for the game to the class and the coach wrote the rules on the board. One student group coded a version of “Bobbing for Apples” where the Splats were placed on a desk and the students had to “bob” and hit the Splat with their head when it turned a specific color. 
Two students playing bobbing for apples, tapping their head on the Splat that lights up!
Two students playing bobbing for apples, tapping their head on the Splat that lights up!

Get Unruly with Cooperative Learning

Although cooperative learning can look chaotic, research shows it leads to more highly engaged students with a better understanding of the material. If you want to learn more about how to integrate more STEM, movement, and collaboration into what you’re already doing at school, give us a call and we’d love to chat and hear more about it! 

Unruly Studios makers of Unruly Splats, programmable, stompable floor tiles that help kids learn fundamental coding skills through recess-style play. Best for elementary and middle school students from PE to science or coding class, a great addition to the classroom for active STEM coding and play!

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