Coffee@IH Porto – All alike but all different

As you might know, IH Porto has two sorts of events taking place at the school regarding Teacher Training. There are the You@IH Porto and the Coffee@IH Porto.

Our Coffee@IH sessions are meant to be about sharing experiences, opinions and ideas. You can join the session at the school (it’s free but limited to 10 seats) or, for some of them, you can join live on Facebook.

Today we went live on Facebook with “All alike but all different” which aimed at raising awareness to the “different” students we have in our class regardless of whether they are “special needs” or not. It also meant to share tips and ideas that teachers can use in their own classes.

If didn’t watch the session, don’t worry. Something great about Facebook live is that you can catch up later. All you need to do is visit our Facebook page. Or… you can watch here 🙂

Don’t forget to follow our social media accounts to find out when our next session is taking place.

If you watch the session, please give us your feedback by clicking here.

See you in the Teachers’ Room!

Teaching Unplugged by La-Salete Moreira

The following post was written as a summary of the session with the same name which took place at IH Portugal's training day.

The session was delivered by Lee Mackenzie, the DoS from IH Aveiro, and was based on the premise of using the teacher and the student as the source materials for the lesson. This approach focuses entirely on the student and his/her interests, and the teacher’s ability to activate students’ knowledge without following a specific course book or syllabus. The teacher follows the student’s pace and choice of topics and doesn’t impose a pre-determined structure. The aim is, therefore, to encourage conversational communication among the teacher and the students. All language used should be ‘real’ and have a communicative purpose. Consequently, grammar should arise naturally during the lesson and not be the purpose of the lesson.

This approach is based on the “Dogme 95 Manifesto”, a filmmaking movement that started in 1995 by the Danish directors. This movement upholds that the art of filmmaking should exclude the use of elaborate special effects or technology. This philosophy was later adopted by EFL experts turning it into a language teaching methodology. It became known as “Dogme EFL”.

Throughout the whole session, Lee Mackenzie demonstrated this methodology by eliciting opinions and points of view from all the teachers about different topics, most of which were chosen by the teachers.

We enjoyed this session a lot. It was interesting to learn about this methodology and how we can implement it in the classroom. From the students’ point of view, they feel in control of their learning and more motivated. From a teaching perspective, it cuts down on preparation time (which is great!) but it also keeps you alert as you never know what could happen in class. This approach will really keep you on your toes! Like many teachers who attended this session, we believe that it is easier to use Dogme EFL with higher level students and, particularly, in a one-to-one situation.

Furthermore, as teachers, we also face certain constraints that impede using this approach exclusively, one of them being the fact that our students buy expensive course books and expect (or their parents do) them to be used in the lessons, while the choice of topics for discussion is another. Choosing appropriate topics, both in terms of students’ interest, command of the language and age, requires thought and attention in order to avoid using “PARSNIP” themes in our classes.

To sum up, the session was useful to discover and exploit another teaching methodology which is much more than just an open conversation class. It involves a structure that allows students to become independent in their learning and promote their critical thinking.

Interested in knowing more about this topic? How about adding these articles and sites to your reading list?

To speak or not to speak, that is the question by Edite Abrantes

Having engaged students who take part in classroom discussions is the objective of any language teacher, however, improving student participation in our lessons requires much more than time and planning. The way we interact with our students reflects how significant participation is in our classes and inevitably, it affects their attitude and input.

Naturally, the key to having more involved students is creating an environment in which everyone has the opportunity to learn by sharing ideas and exploring different perspectives. While the most enthusiastic students raise their hands, (and voices!), others ponder quietly on the given topic before shyly voicing their opinions. Since, our objective as teachers is to ensure that we create conditions which enable students of various personalities to be dynamic participants in interactive speaking activities; there are some tactics which can be adopted to encourage the quieter students to speak up and not be overwhelmed by their more effusive peers.

One easy strategy, which is frequently overlooked, is the way the classroom is organised. So, bearing in mind the size of the class, try moving the chairs around to form a circle or  a “U”, thus creating an environment in which students are more actively involved in discussions, while allowing you to move around and gently prompt the input of the quieter ones, and control the liveliness of the others.

Next, since participation is a two-way street, why not allocate some responsibility to your students for greater engagement in class discussions? How about asking for their views on what contributes and generates animated yet cohesive “talks”?  Then, and based on their input, come up with a list of “dos and don’ts” which can be put up on the classroom notice board as a reminder of their “commitment” to be more active participants in speaking activities. Not only will it highlight students’ accountability for the success of the set activities, it will also serve to make them more co-operative participants in discussions and speaking tasks.

Moreover, learners’ enthusiasm and involvement can be boosted by eliciting topics from them and arranging activities in which they can play the role of “advisers”, who not only listen to their colleagues’ talk but also give feedback on how they believe the presentation could be improved, bearing in mind items such as organization, the lexical range and the language used. By having students assess and advise their peers on their contributions means that greater attention needs to be paid so that the feedback may be constructive and objective.

If you are preparing a discussion activity, integrate short texts into the lesson plan in order to introduce concepts, clarify doubts and help students understand the subject, include small-group discussions or informal writing assignments before or at the start of the class to prompt students to consider the discussion topic before presenting their views to the whole class. Such steps can be effective in providing shy students with the time and means to think about and develop ideas which they can then use in the class discussion with greater confidence and more readily.

Then, it’s vital that students are given time to think before they answer questions. Do not be afraid of silence and giving students a few seconds to think and formulate a response. If no one volunteers an answer, rephrase your question and prompt some feedback rather than giving in to the temptation of answering your own question. By supplying the answer, students fall into the habit of waiting for the appropriate reply rather than participating and sharing their views, so be patient and do not be afraid of silence.

Additionally, use both verbal and non-verbal cues to encourage inputAvoid relying on the same volunteers to answer your questions. Respond to frequent volunteers in a way that indicates that you appreciate their contribution, but want to hear from others as well. Move around the classroom; smile at and make eye contact with the quieter students to encourage them to speak up. In the same way, when frequent volunteers speak, look around the room, rather than only at them, so as to encourage and motivate everyone to participate. Furthermore, encourage students to respond to one another, rather than merely to you. By making eye contact with other students lets them know that you expect them to be listening and responding aptly to what is being said. Listen fully to your students’ questions and answers and resist the urge to interrupt when you think you know what the student is going to say or ask. Often, such well-meaning interruptions result either in incorrect assumptions or misinterpretation of what the students had planned to say or ask, not to mention the frustration they will feel in seeing their efforts being curbed and cut short!

Make sure you give specific, positive, varied repliesPoint out what is useful or thought-provoking about a student’s response, pick up on comments that were made so further discussion can be carried out and ask follow-up questions to prompt students to clarify and develop their ideas. When a student gives an incorrect answer, reply in a way that encourages the student to think the answer through, and come up with a more appropriate response. Furthermore, highlight students’ ideas whenever you can. Referring back to a comment made by a student earlier in class or in a previous lesson shows that you value what your students have to say. Likewise, avoid using general, standard praise as nothing discourages students more than not being seen as individuals.

Finally, as active student participation does not happen naturally when learning a foreign language, its success depends not only on careful planning and varied approaches, but also on team working and exchanging ideas with other teachers. One way to do so is asking a colleague to observe your class. Frequently, outside observers can recognize patterns that hinder participation, but which may not be apparent to you. Take notes of your peers’ advice so that you have a record of what went well and what you should change in order to improve your students’ participation and heighten their confidence and fluency in the use of the language they are learning. After all “Teaching is a strategic act of engagement”. – James Bellanca

The AMT Experience: B“log” entry 3

“Positively charged “ defines the ambience which transpired throughout the third and last day of the conference. The first speaker set the tone for the rest of the day’s events with much laughter at his seemingly trivial anecdotes which made us reflect on how fixated we tend to be on academic success and rather forgetful about other equally important aspects.  Thus, we were reminded of the significant qualities such as resilience, effort and perseverance in achieving goals, the ability to interact and build relationships and curiosity have on increasing students’ motivation to succeed both educationally as well as socially. Furthermore, the role we teachers play in generating and implementing positive emotions in our classrooms was pointed out as being crucial for eliciting interest, pride, hope, joy and gratitude so that  our students  can develop constructive life skills and flourish as individuals.

Being amusement the most contagious emotion of all, many were the laughs and chuckles at the idea that we needed to be more “permalicious” in our schools, creating a more cheerful  working environment where communication, trust and optimism are the cornerstones of a thriving school. As homework is synonymous with teaching, we too, were set a homework task to ensure the above-mentioned items go beyond the theory and are actually executed.

Right after lunch, we were encouraged to “eat that frog first” in order to achieve better time management skills and become more productive. Naturally, having tailor-made, ready-to –use templates for our varied professional tasks, save us time so we can sit back and enjoy a “cuppa” at the end of the day. Yet, before we could do so, we were introduced to three distinct approaches to teacher development. While the first focused on the systems which have been adopted to allow novice teachers to develop without neglecting the training needs of more experienced ones, the second underlined the problems Academic Managers face in dealing with the “dinosaurs in the staffroom” and how they can be incited out of their comfort zones to adapt new teaching techniques and given the appropriate support to avoid further  hibernation, the last, presented by our own Sandra Luna, had us looking in the mirror and questioning whether  we can reach all teachers through carefully developed teacher training programmes.

As much as I’d like to invite you to read the next entry in this experience, or sit back and watch another episode of “Star Wars”… this is the last B”log” post about the AMT’s uplifting and enriching sessions… but my “WOOP” is to keep you posted on the events and advances in Teacher Training at IH Porto.

For now, here are some reading suggestions about some of the above-mentioned topics:


The AMT Experience: B “log” entry 2


sums up the main focus of today’s conference talks, focusing not only on how students with SLD (Specific Learning Difficulties) adjust to the challenges of having learning differences by adopting strategies which facilitate coping with the demands of school, but also on the role teachers play in making the students’ voyage on “HMS Schooling” smoother by being mindful educators who are engaged in implementing good practices in our classrooms.  After all, isn’t reaching out to every student our objective as teachers?

Furthermore, harnessing the winds of change will result in a greater awareness of what high quality teaching can represent for 21st century students who need to globalize their learning experience so as to become fluent bilingual or multilingual speakers, who are the helm of their academic and professional development and appreciate the linguistic and cultural variety garnered from having both native as well as non-native language teachers.

Bearing in mind the split between the vocabulary students understand, and the words they use when communicating in English, the afternoon sessions covered the implications such a divide may have on students’ progress and put forward activities and techniques which aim to overcome this differentiation.

Moreover, planning flexible lessons which take into consideration the unexpected language which emerges during a lesson was highlighted as a means of maximizing the learners’ communication opportunities. On the other hand, by being active listeners to their students’ exchanges, teachers can optimize the emerging language to broaden their lessons so as to incorporate it in their teaching approach and promote greater interaction among students.

We all know teaching isn’t “all fun and games”, so set the record straight the distinction between fun and enjoyable classroom activities was addressed in the last session for today. Focusing on the positive effects learning through fun can have on students, such as building confidence and motivation, engaging students to be concentrated on the task on hand and being more constructive and cooperative, we looked at ways of converting potentially “boring” activities into fun tasks.

Finally, today’s “agenda” ended on a fun note, providing teachers the opportunity to mix and mingle, show off their ability to work as a team, and “cheat” in quizzes so as to win the much coveted trophy, and awe colleagues with their singing and dancing skills. As “time flies when you’re having fun “ the coach had long turned into a pumpkin when everyone turned in.

Signed off at 2.59.

Sign in tomorrow for b”log” entry 3.


Guidelines on managing challenging students by Edite Abrantes

We all know that encouragement and good rapport do much more for a positive classroom environment than reprimands and scolding. After all, the aim is to help students enjoy the lessons, feel good about being there and consequently adopt less disruptive behaviour in the classroom.

Unavoidably, though, students misbehave, are mischievous and even troublesome at times. When they do, don’t rush into rebuking and giving extra homework as punishment, count to ten and bear the following pieces of advice in mind:

  • Take a deep breath and do your best to remain calm.

It’s natural to become frustrated, stressed and angry over irreverent students who simply “ignore” your requests to behave and do their work. However, such feelings affect your rational and inevitably your agitation shows and becomes contagious. So, take a deep breath, or several if you must, try to remain calm and collected and think before responding. Remember, students look up to you, so try to adopt an assertive posture, model an appropriate, exemplary response which clearly indicates that you care about them and their problems. However, where warnings are necessary, state them clearly and quietly so as to avoid disrupting the class.

  • Treat allstudents respectfully and amicably. 

Be consistent in what you let students say and do and be careful not to favor certain students. Avoid labeling students as “good” or “bad.” Instead describe their behavior as “positive,” “acceptable,” “disruptive,” or “unacceptable.” Moreover, give the unruly student a chance to respond politely by explaining not only what he or she is doing wrong, but also what he or she can do to correct it. In addition, seat the student near to you so a glance or a hand on his or her shoulder will let the student know he or she is stepping the line.

Don’t forget to promote the students’ self-worth by praising them often but sincerely. When it’s necessary to speak to a student about his or her behavior, try to do so in private; especially when teaching teenagers who must “show off” to their peers. Publicly lecturing them may trigger exaggerated, face-saving performances which can snow ball into unmanageable situations.

  • Set the example.

Are you as respectful of your students’ feelings as you want them to be of yours and their peers? Are you as organized and on-task as you tell them to be? Are your classroom rules and consequences clear and easy for students to follow?  Be firm and consistent about your rules, and express displeasure with the students’ behavior without criticizing them. Model the behaviour you expect from your students so they can have a reference and an example to follow.

  • Be an active listener and observer.

Try to understand where the “odd” behavior is coming from. Is the student distressed by a personal situation such as the parents’ divorce, new baby in the family, learning difficulties in other subjects or in a particular area of the syllabus, or some other daunting experience? Speaking to the student’s parents may shed light on the crux of the problem and help you develop a closer rapport with the student through understanding and sympathy. Whenever possible, make the time to speak to challenging students privately and show your concern for them.

  • Be realistic.

Sometimes, despite our best intentions and efforts, we find ourselves unable to get across to one of the students in our class. The student may be rude, disruptive, or plain annoying. Remember, it’s human nature and some personalities clash. But instead of feeling guilty about being unable to manage the situation better,  take positive steps to minimize disruptions and handle them as best as you can for …

Time Management for Teachers by sandra luna

Time is precious. Time is money. Time is something we often struggle with. The lack of time.

For teachers time is precious. We need to estimate how much time each activity we’re planning will take. We need to consider fast finishers, then the ones who need this little extra time. We need to remember we might not start our lesson on time because of latecomers and all the time it takes kids to sit down…

And then there’s our own time. Time for ourselves, time for our families, which sometimes turns into time to mark papers or prepare lessons. I’ve found a number of teachers who struggle with time outside the classroom because they want to find the perfect exercise and because they don’t want to keep using the same materials over and over again.

This along with so many other demands from the job leads to stress and when we can’t think straight, things tend to get worse.

I found this article “Top 10 resources to help teachers manage their time – The Guardian”  quite interesting. It’s got some suggestions and resources which teachers can use.

My own tips for time management? Here are a few.

For your lesson:

  1. Write down your lesson plan. It does not need to be a 10 page lesson plan, but do write it down. It helps you to be more aware of what you are going to do in class and how long you’re going to need.
  2. Think about your lesson aim. If you have a clear lesson aim you’re more likely to be able to organize your lesson better and make it more time realistic.
  3. Estimate how long an activity is going to take, but allow some extra time. For example 5m – 10m. Plan your total lesson time bearing in mind the maximum time for each activity. If at the end of the lesson you find yourself to have covered everything play a game like “Hangman” as revision for the vocabulary in the lesson or from previous lessons. The next lesson try reducing the estimated time per activity and including one or two more.
  4. Observe other teachers. Talk to your DoS or one of your colleagues and ask if you can go in and observe how they manage their time. Pay particular attention to how lessons start and finish and to the amount of work given to the learners throughout the lesson.
  5. Observe yourself and your lesson plan. Deliberately plan your lesson as if you were going to be observed and then, during the lesson, observe how long each activity is taking and whether your estimates were accurate enough. This way you’ll be more aware of time for the coming lessons.

Outside the classroom:

  1. Be realistic about the amount of homework you set to be taken home for marking. If learners complain it is too much, chances are it is going to be a lot for you to mark, too. If possible use online platforms like Moodle, where you can include some fun, interactive activities (and which you can build cooperatively with other teachers in the school) which give immediate feedback once the answers are submitted.
  2. Are you volunteering to participate in every activity the school promotes? Then chances are you have too much on your plate. It’s OK to say “No” you know, even if it’s just now and then.
  3. Recycle lessons. And if you’re using a coursebook, use post-its to plan your lessons on the book so you can use it some other time. And use the Teacher’s book. It doesn’t have the answers only. It can help you with time and staging so that you don’t spend ours looking for material.
  4. Don’t spend hours looking for materials.
  5. Sleep. Go to bed early and enjoy weekends and your days off. No guilt about those essays you need to mark. Just remember you need to rest and relax just like everyone else.

After all we are super teachers, but at the end of the day we’re just human beings.


Learning? Sorry, not interested. by sandra luna

It’s funny how over these 20 years the number of “challenging” students in my classes have increased. It’s not just in my classes, I know, but after a while you kind of think “Why me?” They’re grumpy and annoying and their whole body language is screaming out saying “I don’t want to be here!”. However, they do stay and they do interrupt our lesson 1 million times in 10 minutes and they make us lose our patience more often than we like to admit.

Does this sound familiar?

Unfortunately, I think it’s a reality for most teachers.

So what do we do? One thing to always bear in mind is: It’s not you, it’s what you stand for. You stand for rules, objectives, knowledge. Sometimes misbehaviour is just a mask to hide their own fragilities, the things they don’t know. Sometimes they don’t want us to be aware of all their learning difficulties. If they are unpleasant enough, they’ll keep us away. Odd? Yes, but true.

Different teachers deal with these situations in different ways. In my opinion, you can’t give up on kids. I know we won’t be able to reach every and single one of them, but if we try we might get to one. There are no magic tricks but if you are having problems with a group/student try one of these tips.

  1. Turn off the lights. Use natural light instead of the lamps on the ceiling. Most of the times we can teach without the lamps on. The room becomes cosier, less aggressive so kids are more likely to calm down, too.
  2. Greet them at the door. This is your room. You don’t greet your guests while cooking in the kitchen, do you? So it’s the same here. You can’t be getting your desk ready and expect kids get in orderly. Meet them at the door, showing them a smile and a nod or a warm “hello”. This way you’re letting them know a) you appreciate the fact they are there and that b) this is your room and you’re letting them come in.
  3. Personally I don’t like telling students off in front of the whole class. I’d much rather ask them to step outside with me for a minute and calmly ask them if they are feeling well. “Do you need to go to the toilet and wash your face?” “Do you want to grab a cup of coffee quickly?” Show that you care. There might actually be something happing that triggers their behaviour.
  4. Praise behaviour you want them to have and ignore misbehaviour (as much as possible). Why? Most of the times they just want attention. If you get close to a student and you say “You’re really making an effort today. I just wanted you to know I’ve noticed.” you’ll see the difference. Especially if they’re used to being told how bad they’re behaving. If you praise enough they’ll want more.

But remember: miracles don’t happen overnight, so you might expect things to get worse before they get better, or that halfway through the year you might have problems again. The key is to keep on trying and eventually we (and they) will get there.


Teaching adults vs Teaching children (part 1) by sandra luna

“They’re all students, aren’t they? So what’s the big deal? How come I can’t teach all of them the same way?”

Dear reader,

I’m sure the above questions will either make you frown or smile. Some will say “How can a teacher not see that adults and children are completely different?” while others will think “They’re not that different and anyway, they seem to like my lessons.”

I don’t really have an answer. However I can share my opinion with you. Yes, adults and kids are different and, yes, I do work with them in different ways. But how different and different how? Even because I’ve used things with adult groups you wouldn’t normally use and it worked.

There are, in my opinion, some key words to bear in mind and here they are:


Children don’t “have to” learn English. They’re not usually under pressure, their job or promotion does not depend on it. They learn for the sake of learning, because it’s either fun or parents are making them learn. Adults, on the other hand, often come to us with true horror stories. “I have to learn English in 4 months, or else…” “I need to take the IELTS in two weeks and score a band 7, or else…” “My boss/professor told me to look for an English course. He told me to do it, or else…”

So, clearly, they’re much more focused and eager to work, but on the other hand they’re much more concentrated on how you’re teaching them, on exactly why you’re doing this or that and this leads us to…


Children don’t usually think about how much they’re going to get out of a lesson. They’ll say they’ve enjoyed it or not but they won’t go away thinking “Well, can I use this tonight while I’m writing that email?” “Will I remember about that phrasal verb when I pick up the phone tomorrow?” And they sure have different expectations regarding your role in the class. Adults are more likely to be looking for a more traditional form of teaching with the teacher being “god knows it all” and expecting to be quiet, just listening, making their notes and being corrected right away whenever they make some mistake. Remember adults “need” it more than kids do, so topics have to be more than just interesting, they have to be relevant.

(to be continued)


Cooperative Learning by Sandra Simões

I´ve always found group work an interesting form to organize the classroom but it can be a bit messy and noisy, especially if the class is big or if students are noisy already! Sometimes some students do not work properly and take advantage on their classmates’ work and effort.  So, because of this, I decided to look for better ways to implement group work in a more productive way. I started to research and read about this subject and I realized then that I was looking for cooperative learning, not the traditional group work we use to do when we were students.

So, what is cooperative learning? In fact, it is group work, but it is organized in such way that student’s learning is improved. It obeys to an asset of principles and techniques that allow learners to work more effectively in order to achieve their goals and, therefore, success.

I believe we can say that cooperative learning is a methodology which transforms heterogeneity in a positive thing that facilitates learning. Contrasting traditional teaching, it gives voice to the student and silences the teacher. However, we must bear in mind that in this type of learning the teacher must have a strong action and awareness of his role. In traditional teaching, there is the concept of knowledge transmission in which the teacher is the depository of knowledge and, interactions that matter, are those that take place between teacher and student. What happens between students is considered parallel and often disturbing. Cooperative learning is based in teamwork and Kagan (1992) defines team as “Four individuals, giving and taking. By interacting four becomes more.” Johnson and Johnson (1990: 4) define it as:

“(…) working together to accomplish shared goals. Within cooperative activities individuals seek outcomes that are beneficial to themselves and beneficial to all other group members. Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning.”

However, Johnson, Johnson and Holubec say : “Sitting students near each other and telling them that they are a group in and of itself does not produce cooperation or the higher achievement and other outcomes typically found in cooperative learning groups” (1990: 7-8). Let’s see the main differences between traditional group work and cooperative learning groups:

Cooperative Learning Groups                       Traditional Learning Groups

Positive interdependence No interdependence
Individual accountability No individual accountability
Heterogeneous membership Homogeneous membership
Shared leadership One appointed leader
Responsible for each other Responsible only for self
Task and maintenance emphasized Only task emphasized
Social skills directed taught Social skills assumed and ignored
Teacher observes and intervenes Teacher ignores groups
Group processing occurs No group processing

          These five elements above are essential to promote cooperation:

1) Positive interdependence, which consists in creating situations where students work together to maximize all learning, sharing resources and achieving success together. This element is central, because students must believe that each one is only successful if all are.

2) Individual accountability – the group shall assume responsibility for achieving their goals and each member will be responsible for doing their part to the common work. Students must have clear objectives and be able to assess progress concerning the goals and efforts of each element of the group.

3) Stimulating interaction, that is, the ability of students to influence each other  to get involved in learning from each other in such a way that will promote the learning of others and acquire a mutual personal commitment and with common goals.

4) Social skills should be taught so that there is real cooperation. Students must know to wait for their turn, share and compliment, ask for help, be patient, and so on.

5) Group assessment, which takes place when the members analyze to what extent they are achieving the goals and maintaining effective working relationships.

So, how can we organize our classroom in order to have cooperative learning working effectively for us, teachers, and for our students? Here are some strategies, ideas that can be used and adapted. We can use the same all the time, we can mixed them, or even use a different one each week. It depends on us and on our students. We can also start with homework correction in pairs and then go to the group work and use it  all class long.

  1. Roundtable

Present a category (such as a vocabulary area) have students take turns writing one word / phrase at a time.

  1. Write around

For creative writing or summarization, give a sentence starter (for example: If you give an elephant a cookie, he’s going to ask for…). Ask all students in each team to finish that sentence. Then, they pass their paper to the right, read the one they received, and add a sentence to that one. After a few rounds, four great stories or summaries emerge. Give students time to add a conclusion and/or edit their favorite one to share with the class.

  1. Numbered Heads Together

Ask students to number in their teams from one to four. Announce a question and a time limit. Students put their heads together to come up with an answer. Call a number and ask all students with that number to stand and answer the question.

  1. Team Jigsaw

Assign each student in a team one fourth of a page to read from any text or one fourth of a topic to investigate or memorize. Each student completes his or her assignment and then teaches the others or helps to put together a team product by contributing a piece of the puzzle.

  1. Tea Party

Students form two concentric circles or two lines facing each other. You ask a question (on any content) and students discuss the answer with the student facing them. After one minute, the outside circle or one line, moves to the right so that students have new partners. Then pose a second question for them to discuss. Continue with five or more questions. For a little variation, students can write questions on cards to review for a test through this “Tea Party” method.

There is so much more to say about cooperative learning but I hope these (few) ideas can fire up your curiosity and help you to enrich your classes.