In preschool ages, based on their developmental stage, children are self-centered and are developing social skills. They are learning their role as part of a system that requires individuals to cooperate with each other. As an academic resource to help PK students to develop this important life skill, the five pillars of Cooperative Learning become crucial to their learning process: Positive interdependence, face-to-face interaction, individual accountability, social skills, and group processing.Â Johnson, Johnson, and Smith (1991) defined Cooperative Learning as â€œthe instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learningâ€.By focusing on their integrated project: It’s a Small World, and their tour through Egypt, PK students had the opportunity to learn about pharaohs, mummies, sarcophagi, religious beliefs, and burial ceremonies.
Through Cooperative Learning, our youngest students were divided into small groups (3 or 4 students) so that they could decorate a fragment of an Egyptian sarcophagus that when put together became the class project. Through this activity, they were able to understand that their role and compromise had a direct impact on the whole team’s product and performance (Individual accountability). Students had to come to agreements and decide how were they going to decorate their part of the sarcophagus to make it harmonious and adequate with the other pieces of the group puzzle; they had to communicate with each other to make these decisions (face-to-face interactions).
Students understood that every member of each team had to contribute in order for the whole team to succeed in this assignment (Positive Interdependence). When each part of the sarcophagus was completed and put together, our children had the opportunity to self-evaluate their participation and to reflect on the outcome of this project. They discussed what worked and what could be done differently next time (Group Processing). Students were very satisfied when they saw the completed sarcophagus and they had fun taking pictures with it. They finished this activity waiting for the next cooperative learning project as they were also able to satisfy their basic needs of fun, and love and belonging.
Camila Clavijo Abenoza Family Coordinator PK Math and English Teacher
Resumen: En las edades tempranas de preescolar y basados en sus niveles de desarrollo, los niÃ±os son individualistas y estÃ¡n aprendiendo a relacionarse positivamente con otros. EstÃ¡n empezando a comprender que son parte de un sistema que requiere que los individuos cooperen los unos con los otros.Como un recurso académico para ayudar a los estudiantes de PrejardÃ