Cooperative Learning: Effective Team Work! 20+ Resources

Part of the Cool Sites series

Cooperative Learning

Every Friday I am presenting free webinars thanks to American TESOL! We have an incredible time. Recently, we discussed the benefits of cooperative learning. Through cooperative learning students learn effective team work through:

  • Accountability– students realize the contribution of each individual will determine the success of the task.
  • Team building– students learn how to listen to each other, resolve conflicts, delegate tasks, set deadlines and support each other.

The teacher acts as the facilitator walking around the class and ensuring teams are supporting each other. The teams will have problems. A student from at least one of the teams will be lazy. Kids are this way, but this is a teachable moment. We get to help the students learn to resolve these conflicts. If we do not teach them they will not learn. When using cooperative learning, the teacher will think about the:

  • Team formation– It’s important that teams consist of students with different abilities, skills, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Structuring of tasks– Tasks should be designed so that one student cannot complete the task but each member’s contribution is needed.

Students will need to learn how to effectively work with others on problem solving when they enter college and the workforce. Imagine the teams you have been part of and the nightmare it has been!

Please check out the incredible thoughts shared by many educators in this Voicethread!

And here is the webinar I recently did on Cooperative Learning!

Cooperative Learning Classroom Activities

Check out these resources to integrate cooperative learning activities effectively.

Kagan Cooperative Learning-Structures for Success Part 1
Cooperative Learning Research
What Cooperative Learning Looks Like in the Classroom
What Works: Cooperation vs. Competition- Read about my experiences integrating cooperative learning into my young learners classroom
Cooperative Learning Games for Young Learners (PDF)
The different job titles and explanations along with links to Melissa Smith’s Cooperative Learning Project
Silent Card Shuffle (Video)
Several Cooperative Learning Activities on the Kagan Youtube Channel (Videos)
9 Cooperative Learning Activities
The Jigsaw Classroom

Alfie Kohn Resources

Workshops by Alfie Kohn relating to competition and rewards
No Contest: Podcast featuring an interview with Alfie Kohn
Punished by Rewards (Article) by Alfie Kohn
No Contest Excerpts of Alfie Kohn’s book

More Resources

What is Cooperative Learning? Research by the Institute for Character Education
Cooperative Learning Elements Kennesaw State University Resources
Several Cooperative Learning Resources by Cybraryman
Cooperative Learning in the Library by Cybraryman
New Teacher Chat (#NTChat) Archive: How can new teachers make cooperative learning more effective in the classroom?
The Cooperative Learning Network
Cooperative Learning Research and Education Programs


Try a cooperative learning lesson this semester!

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Art, Creativity, & Kids: 20+ Resources

Part of the Cool Sites series

Quote paint!

Many schools have cut out the Arts from the curriculum due to budget cuts and the emphasis on raising standardized test scores. Art is important in our lives. Many students express themselves through art. In my personal experience I have seen how painting community murals, creating music, choreographing a dance, designing a stage set, taking incredible photographs, or reciting self-created poetry has given children in hopeless situations hope. I have helped provide summer art programs and creative writing programs for children who were in juvenile detention centers, living in homeless shelters, or struggling with peer pressure. For other children, art becomes an outlet for feeling achievement. Many children who struggle with reading and math need self belief that they are not stupid and can be successful in school. Art, music, dance, photography, and creative writing programs can help these students receive this confidence. In society, we admire and praise artists, but we send a mix message to children when we abandon the Arts at our schools.

Maybe we do not have an Arts curriculum in our schools, but we can and should incorporate the Arts in our lessons. I love letting my students get creative when it comes to projects. My students are given general objectives to achieve but are allowed to use whatever media they wish to show their work. Some make videos, some use posters, some create live productions with other students playing the guitar, and some create online presentations. I have even let my students create poetry or comic strips for their journal entries. I just found that some of my students would learn the material better if I let them choose how to learn it. What did I observe when I no longer limited them? I found many came alive, shared their passions, and got the rest of the students in the class excited! I found that they would approach their classmates or others in the school to be part of their presentations. The entire school would want to come to my class to see the collaborations! We had so much fun and the students enjoyed learning.

Top Art Sites

These are my favorites free tools and resources to get students creating! Included is a brief description and helpful links to facilitate using these tools more effectively.

  • Drawing: How to Draw- Several drawing tutorials.
  • Deviant Art- World’s largest online community of artists and art lovers.
  • Digital Storytelling Resources and Ideas Wiki- Find several ideas for claymation, stop motion, and other films.
  • 40 Writing, Music, and Art Resources
  • Animata- Free software for editing and creating brilliant animation films.
  • Dismantling the Bomb- Great interactive website that explores the fine line between art and graffit.
  • Onemotion- Sketch and paint on a canvas with many tools, play games, or make music on the drum machine.
  • Odosketch- Fantastic and easy tool for students to create detailed sketches. For more information see David Kapular’s post.
  • Slimber- Draw on this canvas, choose the background color and the dimensions. The best drawings are featured on the front of the website so gives the students some incentives.
  • Artpad- Similar to Canvastic where students paint and can playback. However, you can select frames and this has a nicer look. Also has an iPad app.
  • Canvastic- An easy tool for students to paint. Students are able to playback how they painted their masterpiece.
  • Rate My Drawing- Nice chat and collaborative drawing feature. You can also draw on a sketch pad which is animated. Huge community of artists that share their work.
  • Guess A Sketch- Draw online and others try to guess what it is! Great collaborative online game and has an iPhone app (the app costs $1.99).
  • Artsonia- Kids can display and sell their art on this online museum.
  • Playful Learning Experiences- This wonderful site provides you with many activities in writing and arts and crafts!
  • Artopia- Teachers can create art galleries of students work. See Kelly Tenkely’s post for classroom application ideas.
  • Sketchcast- Students can draw in several different colors, add text, narrate the drawing, and embed it into a wiki or blog.
  • Doink- Students create free animation videos.
  • VoiceDraw- Draw with the sound of your voice. A high voice goes one direction while a medium voice creates a straight line. It’s in beta and a bit tricky but a fun experiment.
  • Art, Drawing and Art Educational Freeware- Whatever your students want to do artistically you can find a free tool on this website!
  • Best Art sites for Learning English- Larry Ferlazzo provides you with many tools and explains why they made his best list.


Integrate art in at least one lesson this semester.

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What tools inspire your students to be creative?

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Please explore any website before using with your students. Many of these have Google ads and community forums!

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Educators as Collaborators: 25+ Resources

Part of the Cool Sites series

Collaboration is the real step to education transformation. When we gather to produce, our ideas, talents, and skills embody our final outcome. Each person who participates has the ability to add full attention to the designated task versus one person spread thin over several tasks. Collaboration is also important for students who will have to work with others in some capacity to be able to problem solve or brainstorm.

Why Teaching Online Collaboration is Important

While completing my Masters online, I discovered that many people lacked collaboration skills. I observed 20+ global teams in which members fought or offended each other by their lack of communication and team building skills. These skills include having the ability to compromise, lead, meet deadlines, deal with disagreement, and communicate in an effective manner. When we collaborate online many forget that online communication is very different than person to person communication. Sometimes an online message can be misread or come across quite differently than the message we originally tried to communicate.

Why is Online Collaboration Different than Face to Face Collaboration?

Online collaboration is very different than in person collaboration mainly because we don’t have nonverbal cues to support our messages. Many researchers believe that nonverbal communication is as high as 60% to 93% of all communication. This means that a majority of our online messages could be misinterpreted, yet many of us do not communicate with this in mind. When we accidentally offend others we shut down the lines of communication, which jeopardizes the final outcome or our efforts. In our digital world, online collaboration will become increasingly important, yet schools rarely teach students to collaborate online. We can change that by ensuring our students participate in at least one online collaborative project this year. I would love to see the day when schools teach all learners to collaborate effectively with their peers worldwide. We would be able to solve issues like the environment, the economy, and possibly prevent wars. Wow! That’s pretty powerful potential!

Top Collaboration Sites

These are my favorites free tools to get your students and you collaborating! Included is a brief description and helpful links to facilitate using these tools more effectively.

  • Wiggio- Developed by college students this free site has everything from meeting planning, your own whiteboard, updates, group mailing, a calendar, video conferencing room, group text messages, and much more! I love this website. Read more about it in the ILearnTechnology blog.
  • Enter the Group- create project pages and online classrooms for free. Includes features like to-do lists, tasks widget, chat, message boards, group email, file sharing, an online calendar, checklists, blogs, polls, and more!
  • Juntos- communicate in real time through audio, video, and chat. Supports a multivideo chat and scheduling option.
  • iBrainstorm App for iPad and iPhone- Allows up to 4 to collaborate on a brainstorming diagram or group thinking process that can be emailed. Has drawing and writing tools.
  • Scribblar-Real-time multi-user whiteboard, image upload/ download, text chat with userlist, live audio
  • Google Tools for Educators- One of my favorite ways to collaborate! Collaborate in real time to create slideshows, drawings, documents, and more that are on the web and can easily be embedded and organized in folders.
  • Zoho- Collaborate on PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, word documents, and more. Similar to Google Apps, but shows a condensed view of all recent project activity and includes group chat rooms, forums, wikis, and a tabbed interface.
  • CrocDocs- Collaboratively highlight and comment on PDFs, Word documents, images, and more!
  • Prezi-the alternative to PowerPoint. Create non-linear presentations with images, text, video, and cool transitions. Now with the ability for students to collaborate on one Prezi together in real-time.

Collaborative Document & Whiteboard Tools

  • Twiddla- real time collaboration on documents, websites, and images. Includes writing and drawing tools and audio to talk in real time. No registration needed.
  • Skrbl- Multi user whiteboard that can be embedded. Sketch, text, share files, upload pictures all in one common shared space. No registration required.
  • Groupboard- Free online whiteboard and chat that can be easily embedded into your website. Also is an iPhone, iPad and Android app.
  • Titan Pad- real time collaboration on document that assigns everyone their own color. Includes formatting options like MS Word. No registration needed.
  • Meeting Words- nearly the exact same service as Titan Pad.
  • Type With Me- Like Titan pad with the ability to save as a PDF, website, bookmark, pdf, and more.
  • Writeboard- real time collaboration on document that tracks changes from each person, no registration needed.

Online Sticky Boards

Most of these services allow you more options if you sign-up for free. You can also make your walls of post-its private in all these services.

  • Wallwisher- Put messages up to 160 characters on an online board. Looks like post-its but these can include videos, links, images, and audio. This online board is embeddable which is its best feature. Additionally, you can choose from a variety of backgrounds and pictures from Wallwisher’s library! You don’t have to be registered to post. I love Wallwisher and am registered since I have around 30 walls. The problem is that this service is unreliable and often down so here are other options below.
  • Pindax- Post text, images, and files, also the ability to embed and search your posts! Not as nice looking as Wallwisher but a good alternative.
  • Linoit- Include links, images, video, and audio as well as change the size and color of your fonts. Has various background options and other attractive options. It’s embeddable as well.
  • Stixy- Add tasks, appointments, files, photos, notes, and bookmarks to boards. More options than Wallwisher but doesn’t have an embedding option.
  • Listhings- It’s a corkboard template, but has the ability to change the color of notes and create several note pages! I haven’t found the embed option. Read more about Listhings here.
  • Spaaze- Described as a virtual corkboard, add images, video, and more. No embedding option but does allow you to search content.
  • EditStorm- Brainstorming board that allows collaborators to post ideas on different colored notes. Has an idea bot idea bots that look up related concepts, synonyms and even words that rhyme with any term that has been used. You can also poll ideas but you can’t add video, audio, or images. Some html is supported. There’s also templates to choose from and an iPad/iPhone app. Not embeddable.

More Resources


Use one of these tools to get your students collaborating online this year!

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What collaboration tools do you love?

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Will You Wave? 25 Google Wave Resources

Part of the Cool Sites series

On Tuesday, May 18th, Google announced that Google Wave is now available for everyone! Now you may have tried Google Wave in the beginning and felt it was not your cup of tea. Initially, Google Wave did have some annoying problems. However, like most technology, it has improved with time. Google Wave uploads faster, notifies you of updates through your e-mail, has many collaborative features, and now lets anyone join. Some of the collaborative features on the wave include video chat, embedding all sorts of documents within the page (PowerPoints, videos, and text documents), collaborative mindmapping, collaborative drawing, and much more! The video below will show you how to get started and wave.

Why Wave?

Google Wave is best for collaborative projects with a small amount of people. I find that larger Waves of 50 or more educators is overwhelming and difficult to follow. Personally, I prefer to be a part of a Wave of 3 to 15 active participants. I have mostly used Google Wave for organizing various virtual events, but have been part of Waves where educators have their students collaborate on projects. I urge you to try waving as part of a project. You can start with a simple meeting or project with your Personal/Passionate Learning Network to get the feel of how useful Wave is for collaboration. I would advise trying to Wave with someone who knows the ropes. I realize you may not know anyone who has used Wave, therefore, I am listing some resources for you to get started!

Resources and Tips

Educators on Google Wave:

Useful tutorials and tips:

Youtube video tutorials and tips:

What are the best gadgets, extensions, and bots?

Google Wave and Education:


Try using Google Wave for a collaborative project or have your students try it for a team project.

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What useful tips do you have for collaborating on Google Wave?

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What Did They Tweet?

New Year’s Eve edition of the What Did They Tweet weekly series!

2010 is around the corner! Through my PLN on Twitter, I have found some fantastic tips, tricks, and projects. If you are viewing this from an RSS reader, you may want to check the homepage to see the embedded videos and frames.

Be the Hit of Your New Year’s Eve Party

Several of us will be attending parties, perhaps with our educator friends. @RiptideF shared this video, Top 10 Quirky Science Tricks for New Year’s Parties, which is filled with cool ways to liven up the party. Try these if you dare, then share them with your students to motivate them to learn the science behind these incredible feats!

Tips on Becoming a Creative Teacher

@ahrenfelt created this wonderful Wallwisher of tips to becoming a creative teacher. Use these suggestions from various educators to help you become more creative as an educator or add your own sticky note. Wallwisher is one of my favorite tools that you can read more about in this previous post!

Bloom’s Taxonomy Poster

In the New Year, most of us will be updating our curriculum objectives. @Nharm shared this beautiful Bloom’s Taxonomy Butterfly poster which is a nice touch to any classroom as well as an important reminder of what our students should be doing daily- remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Click on the image to access the pdf of the poster!


Creative Commons License
The Blooming Butterfly poster by Learning Today is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

8 Easy Web 2.0 Tools

Thinking of integrating web 2.0 tools, but do not know which ones to use or how to use them? This wiki and glogster shared by @EdtechSandyK provides help.

Skype Around the Classroom

One goal for the upcoming year should be to get your students connected with other students around the world. The easiest way is through Skype, a free service that can be downloaded on the Internet. @GiseldaSantos shared Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s K12 Online Conference presentation, Around the World with Skype that provides several ideas and tips on how to use Skype in the classroom.

Add the people in this post to your PLN by using this mass Twitter tool. Just copy and paste this list!

riptideF, ahrenfelt, nharm, EdtechSandyK, GiseldaSantos, larryferlazzo, kalinagoenglish

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For more tweets, check out these posts:


Share one of these resources with another educator not on Twitter. Then tell them you got the tip from educators on Twitter!

What was your favorite tweet this week? Why?

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