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Planning & Cooperative Learning in Primary School Coursework

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Updated: May 18th, 2021

Introduction to Lesson Plan

Graduate Teaching Standards

Six graduate teaching standards will be used in the planning and assessment for cooperative learning in the primary classroom environment. These standards are part of the AITSL-Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Specifically, the proposed assessment will demonstrate my achievement of the AITSL standards in planning and assessing cooperate learning.

  • 2.1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.
  • 2.5. Know and understand literacy and numeracy teaching strategies and their application in teaching areas.
  • 3.2. Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.
  • 3.5. Demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.
  • 5.1. Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.
  • 6.4. Demonstrate an understanding of the rationale for continued professional learning and the implications for improved student learning.

Main Lesson Plan

Unit Title: General Science Stage: Intermediary Year: 2018
Lesson Title/Topic: Ecosystem/Food chain Class: Grade 7
Number of students: 30 learners
Duration: 50 minutes
Content Strands: Think pair share: Through cooperative learning, learners will be encouraged to think independently and paired in groups that will share their results with the rest of the class.
Rationale: The use of the ‘think pair share’ strategy is meant to promote group learning and encourage proactive learner engagement to make the lesson delivery process knowledge and practice-oriented. Resources: CXC integrated Science Book, chips, markers, tape, pictures, and visual aids. Prior Knowledge: Learners are knowledgeable of the fact that all living creatures have unique characteristics. However, the learners have only been subjected to two lessons using the ‘think pair share’ cooperative learning strategy.
Outcomes: Given the resources, learners will be able to;
  1. Define the term ‘food chain’ and select the consumer, producer and decomposer in a sequential manner.
  2. Assemble the various pictures of the organism within a food chain.
  3. Appreciate the significance of food chains in the ecosystem.
Indicators:
  1. The ability of the learner to define ‘food chain’ and select the consumer, producer, and decomposer in a sequential manner.
  2. The ability of a learner to correctly construct a food chain using the pictures given.
  3. Ability to discuss the importance of the food chain in an ecosystem.
Assessment Techniques:
Strengths: (List down the strengths)
Areas of improvement: (List down the areas of improvement)
Follow-up: (List down the follow-up strategies)
Timing: Teaching Strategies Learning Activities Key Questions
15 minutes Introduction
  • The teacher will introduce the topic of a food chain and briefly define it.
  • This will be followed by visual aids depicting the concept of the food chain.
  • The teacher will then give examples of animals and plants, making up a food chain.
  • The teacher will distribute pictures of different animals to the learners.
  • The learners will be placed in small groups consisting of five students each (group processing).
  • Each group will be seated around a table and given a piece of paper and a pencil.
  • Each group member will be asked to name an animal or a plant (individual responsibility).
  • Learners will then take turns in recording the responses on the piece of paper provided using the pencil (simultaneous interaction).
  • The piece of paper will then be passed around for each learner to see the written responses.
  • Each group will then be asked to share the listed animals and plants and their position in the food chain (simultaneous interaction).
  • Which image can you see in the picture?
  • Does the image depict an animal or a plant?
  • Can you name this animal or plant?
  • Have you ever seen this animal in real life?
  • What comes to your mind when you see this animal?
25 minutes Body
  • Divide the learners into groups consisting of five students.
  • Give each learner a picture numbered in a sequential manner.
  • Introduce the concept of producers and consumers.
  • Classify the plants as producers and animals as consumers.
  • Illustrate these concepts using visual aids.
  • Ask the groups of learners to place the pictures on the table and suggest different ways of organising these images to construct a food chain.
  • Allocate enough pictures per table to enable the groups to construct a complete food chain.
  • Lastly, ask each group to share their constructed food chain with other groups and pinpoint the producer, consumer, and decomposer.
  • Based on the given picture, each learner will be expected to classify the animals and plants in the pictures as consumers and producers, irrespectively.
  • As captured in chart 1, the teacher will then select a number from each group and learners belonging to that set will be requested to come forward.
  • With the cooperation of all other learners, the pictures will be connected to each other to form a cycle called a food chain (positive Interdependence).
  • Learners whose pictures were selected to construct the food chain will be given a new picture.
  • Each learner will be allocated a chip.
  • For learners to share their knowledge, they shall be asked to place these chips at the centre of the table (individual accountability).
  • This technique is vital in ensuring that all learners share ideas on the construction of a food chain with one another (equal participation).
Picture Identification
  • Which picture shows producers and consumers?
  • How do we connect these pictures to form a complete food chain?
  • Has everyone received a chip?
  • Look at each other’s chips and explain what you have seen?
10 minutes Conclusion
  • The teacher will summarise the concept of a food chain.
  • This will be followed by a summary of the food chain components (producer, consumer, and decomposer).
  • Lastly, discuss the significance of the food chain in an ecosystem.
  • Each learner will be given a worksheet to identify the various parts of a food chain.
  • Each student will be asked to create own food chain and properly label the producer, consumer, and decomposer (individual accountability).
  • What is a food chain?
  • What is the significance of the food chain?
  • What are the components of a food chain?
Links to Quality Teaching The cooperative learning approach used in this lesson plan motivates small group interaction to promote peer learning through teacher assistance. As proposed in the plan, the teacher will only guide the learners in grasping different concepts of the food chain. The learners are actually motivated to directly participate in the learning process through unswerving engagement and practical interaction with different materials and resources. It also allows the teacher to accommodate slow learners through repetition of activities as students orally rehearse the learning materials and explain them to each other as part of group processing. Thus, the solutions discovered are easier to debate and discuss in a procedural manner. In general, it integrates the AITSL standards in planning and assessing cooperate learning. Among the standards applied are professional knowledge, practice, and engagement. Specifically, the lesson plan was created to integrate the AITSL standards 2.1, 2.5, 3.2, 3.5, 5.1, and 6.4.
Evaluation The questions given to the learners at the beginning of the lesson will be proactively used by the teacher at the end to evaluate the level of knowledge gained. The questions are specific to ensure that the grading and evaluation processes are uniforms. The evaluation will involve an examination of comprehension and knowledge. In terms of knowledge, the teacher will confirm the ability of each learner to demonstrate a clear understanding of the concept and components of a food chain and its significance to an ecosystem. The element of comprehension will review the learner’s ability to self-reflect on the animals and plants, making up a food chain and how these living things interact within the identified web. The effectiveness of the teaching process will be identified by how each learner fills the worksheet. An average score of 85% will be used as the benchmark for declaring the teaching of the lesson plan as effective. The post-assessment is summarised below.
Classification Marks
Below average Less than 50%
Average 50-80%
Above average More than 85%

Student Participation—Guided Practice

The response of each group consisting of five students will be evaluated on their ability to identify different plants and animals, construct a food chain, and correctly mark the components of the chain.

Student Participation—Independent Practice

Each learner will work independently on filling the food chain worksheet given at the end of the second phase of the lesson and effectively mark the components as part of individual accountability (Kivunja, 2015). This part is effective in evaluating the level of knowledge at the beginning and the end of the lesson. Through the use of the click and clunk strategy, it will be possible to check the learner’s ability to grasp the gist. This is vital in constructing the guided practice, independent work, and quantification of the outcome to promote positive interdependence (Kivunja, 2015). The evaluation will end by giving feedback to the learners on the group work participation to affirm equal participation (Kivunja, 2015). This will be followed by the collection of the worksheets from each learner and the scheduling of the next lesson.

Reflection The instructional objectives and delivery approach proposed in the above lesson plan summarises a cooperative learning strategy called the ‘think pair share’. This means that the lesson plan has adopted practical, inclusive, and interactive learning. The plan encompasses content and proximal development goal actualisation (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2014). This objective is ideal in training the learners to comprehend the concepts of the topic and offer orientation on the basics of creativity and self-expression through interactive learning.

As summarised in the zone of proximal development theory, this lesson plan empowers each learner to acquire the topic concepts through simultaneous interaction with other students to internalise interpersonal learning skills (Hennessey & Dionigi, 2013). The primary goal of this lesson is to enable the teacher to effectively categorise and position the learners in different groups through group processing to align the learning experience to simplified relevancy in imparting knowledge (Eady & Lockey, 2013). The content of the lesson has defined the essentially intended understanding of the topic. Reflectively, the substance of the lesson plan topic functions on the periphery of relevance and practicality through cooperative learning to fulfil the primary objectives (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace, 2013).

Reflection

What I Did

The use of the ‘think pair share’ as a cooperative learning strategy was an interesting scheme in developing the above lesson plan. I commenced the creation of the lesson plan by selecting the appropriate intermediate learning level. The most challenging part was the selection of the appropriate topic that can be delivered through cooperative learning. I eventually selected the topic called the ‘Food Chain’. In order to demonstrate the rationale for continued learning, as indicated in AITSL standard 6.4, I proceeded to develop relevant teaching and learning strategies to incorporate the element of learner participation (Carolina, 2012).

I opted for a learner-guided teaching strategy to ensure that the students are at the forefront to enhance individual accountability in line with the AITSL standard 3.5. I managed to create a strategy for demonstrating verbal and non-verbal strategies to promote proactive learner engagement (Gillies & Boyle, 2013). The entire lesson was created around encouraging and demonstrating the aspect of teamwork through group processing and positive interdependence, as is the case with the animals and plants (Kivunja, 2015).

For instance, the selection of the food chain topic was symbolic of making the demonstration of the actual assessment as a systematic and formative process in line with the AITSL standard 5.1 (Alenka, 2015). Actually, the topic content was modified to include the summative and formative learner assessment. For example, the lesson has a provision for assessing the ability to correctly identify, classify, and construct a food chain to promote equal participation (Kivunja, 2015). I created the assessment procedure to demonstrate the direct understanding and knowledge of the food chain. I structured its content to include proper identification of different parts of the chain through an interactive method as captured in AITSL 2.1 (Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership, 2011).

What I Learned

The lesson plan was created to promote direct learner engagement, practice, and knowledge assessment in order to integrate different numeracy and literacy teaching strategies. For instance, I discovered that the ‘pair think share’ cooperative learning strategy is aligned to the AITSL 2.5 to ensure that the topic coverage is not only relevant to the grade level but also promotes simultaneous interaction among learners (Kivunja, 2015).

In the lesson planning sequence of different activities, I discovered that it is important to integrate as many resources as possible to make interactive learning more dynamic and student-oriented at individual and group levels (Kivunja, 2015). For instance, the inclusion of pictures, visual aids, pen and paper was meant to give learners different approaches in understanding the content as captured by standard 3.2 (Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership, 2011).

After completion of the lesson planning process, I learned that there is a need to use different materials to the lesson content and objectives to make the assessment and evaluation process rational and verifiable. In general, the learning experience in the creation of this lesson plan surpassed my understanding of cooperative learning and its application in teaching an intermediate level class.

What I Will Do Next

After the creation of the cooperative learning lesson plan, the next activity would be its practical implementation in an intermediate level classroom. I will endeavour to replicate the content of this hypothetical lesson plan in real life in order to evaluate my ability to transform theory into practice. I will then use a similar assessment criterion to track the relevance of my lesson and level of learner comprehension.

References

Alenka, R. (2015). Forms of cooperative learning in language teaching in Slovenian language classes at the primary school level CEPS Journal, 5(3), 129-155.

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2014). . Web.

Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership. (2011). Australian professional standards for teachers. Carlton South, Australia: MCEECDYA.

Carolina. (2012). Cooperative learning strategies for group work and group discussion. Web.

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace. (2013). National school improvement tool. Web.

Eady, M., & Lockey, L. (2013). Tools for learning: Technology and teaching strategies. Web.

Gillies, R., & Boyle, M. (2013). Cooperate learning: A smart pedology for successful learning. Web.

Kivunja, C. (2015). Teaching, learning and assessment: Steps towards creative practice. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Hennessey, A., & Dionigi, R. (2013). Implementing cooperative learning in Australian primary schools: Generalist teachers’ perspectives. Issues in Educational Research, 23(1), 52-68.

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