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Cooperative learning and assessment

Hello colleagues, I was recently reminded once again of the classic cooperative learning assessment strategy called "numbered heads." It's funny how we sometimes forget about some wonderful old stand-by ideas. I made a commitment to begin incorporating numbered heads into my instruction. This past week I did so with great results.

Here's how numbered heads works for those who may not know. Students work in groups of 3-5 and number off, so if there are four students in a group, one person is #1, the next #2, #3 and #4. The teacher poses a question based on the content being studied. This could be anything at all from math to history to science to grammar to vocabulary to communication skills, etc. -- the sky is the limit, really! The teacher tells the students that the question will be answered by -- for example -- a #3 student. Students talk together about the question, so that student #3 in each group is prepared to respond. The teacher calls on one of the #3 students to answer the question.

I am currently teaching a pre-CNA class, so we used numbered heads to review medical terminology.

Numbered heads works great to increase talk about academic content. Students work together to help one another in answering the questions, so those who are not as prepared get the extra support they need.

Have others used numbered heads to review content and assess students' understanding? Please tell us how this assessment strategy has worked for you.

Cheers, Susan

Moderator, Assessment CoP

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