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BK 101 School Emblem

Universal School of Knowledge

These are just some of the ideas of what a Basic Knowledge 101
School of Thought would look like when it becomes a Physical School, and not just a VR school, or an Online School with Professional Tutoring, or an Artificial Intelligent Avatar that runs on your computer or smartphone, or an Outdoor School.

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This is to help students understand how to schedule and organize their learning experience over a 12 year period, or 20,000 hours of learning. This will also allow students see their education as a whole. See what choices they will have, and when and where their options will be in their learning tree. They can also plan and predict where their education will take them so they can plan what career is best for them, and what actions are best for the world.   

The starting point will depend on a students age and their level of knowledge and skills. Learning the right things at the right time makes learning easier. Learning things in the right order will help understand the knowledge. So if you skip parts, or jump ahead, or cheat, you may minimize your ability to use this knowledge to its full potential.

This is just a first draft, so it will be modified and expanded as time goes on. 9/2015

Future School
Student enters school, teachers find out what the student needs, and then provides these needs to the student. A student will walk into his or her school and either say I'm good, I'm doing a regular schedule today. see you after school, or they will say I'm not doing a regular scheduled school day, I'm working on some personalized needs today.

This is not saying that education should be unstructured, we need an education timeline and structure, but we also need to be Spontaneous and Flexible, and create a one to one teaching and learning experience for every student, one that is customized personally for each persons needs. 

Collaborative Education

To make every student a self directed learner who is not dependent on classrooms or schools to learn what is needed.
Foster the responsibilities and the skills of learning, so that every student fully understands what learning is, and is not.

Main Goals
Make sure that every Student has Access to the Worlds Most Valuable Knowledge and Information. And then teach every student how to use knowledge and information Effectively and Efficiently as possible. And then make sure that every student knows all the different ways there are to learn and has all the necessary tools and technology that are needed for learning. And then get out of the way, because our students have a life to live, and they also have a lot of problems to solve that they have inherited from an ignorant society. We owe this to our children, we owe this to ourselves, we owe this to our students, and we owe this to the hundreds of millions of future generations.

Every Student should be given the ability to know anything that one chooses to know and can be known, and the capacity to know everything that there is to know. This is not to say that students will spend every day of their life learning, it is saying that learning will happen more often because each student will understand what learning is, and, how to recognize learning moments when they happen. Students lives will be balanced and rich with experiences, but they will also be intelligent, because they will be learning the right things at the right time, and have access of the most valuable reading material that this world has to offer. Each student will understand Cumulative Learning, and how Cognitive Architecture is built.

To Know Everything, To Become Intelligent, To Solve Every Problem, To Live Well, To Love.  

Everything There Is To Know About Everything There Is
Will Humans ever be able to know everything in the Universe?

The only time that you can accurately understand something is when you have the necessary knowledge and information that's needed in order to understand it. There are things that you cannot see or understand unless you are trained to see and have learned how to see what you could not see before. To you, something's do not exist until you have the necessary knowledge and information that's needed in order to realize the existence of something.
Example: Let's say you were drinking water from a fountain, but the water is polluted, so you got sick. But what you did not know is that there was another water fountain down the road that had clean water. So if you were informed and knew about the clean water fountain, you could have drank water from that clean fountain instead of drinking dirty water that made you sick. And one more thing, lets say you had no idea that the water that you were drinking was the cause of your sickness? So until you learn that the water is the cause of your sickness, you will continue to be sick.
That's how most everything in life works. Learning is your power. Never underestimate the importance of learning. But you must learn the right things at the right time.

First you have to know, then you can understand, then you can be aware it, then you can figure out how to be in control of the input and output, or the cause and effect.

So what do you need to know?
What would be the perfect education?
What would be the most valuable knowledge and information that a person could have?
What would be the most valuable skills that a person could have?
What is valuable?
Valuable is something that has been calculated and measured as being the most important for life, prosperity and happiness.

What would be the most important questions that everyone should have the answers to?
What is happiness?
What is sadness?
What does success mean?
What is confidence?
What is love?
What is fear?
and so on...

As we teach each student how to improve their life and improve their world, we will also teach students how to read, how to write, how to use math, how to use science, how to communicate, teach them problem solving, and also teach them how to be an engineer, all at the same time. So as each student learns how to improve their world, they will also learn valuable skills and knowledge at the same time.

Simultaneous Subject Teaching Creating Associations and Connecting Knowledge with things you do in Life everyday.
Counting the Things that Matter

Timeline is a way of displaying a list of events in chronological order, sometimes described as a project artifact. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labeled with dates alongside itself and usually events labeled on points where they would have happened.

Timeline of Education Sample

Timeline would show the 5 Core Subjects and Testing needed at each step, which would vary depending on the abilities of each student. Would not be limited by age or grade, mostly just ability.

This school is not about memorizing boring details, this is about effective learning, and maximizing the students time at school,
so that every student receives the best education possible. And that every student is more intelligent then the previous generation, and that each student will grow up to be free thinkers and not a robot to be manipulated by other peoples ignorance. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to intelligent people solving all our problems, the future is going to be freaking awesome!

Testing is only used as a guide to help you measure the level of intelligence that you have acquired at a particular moment in time. Testing is also used as a guide to help you plan your education needs. No more grades, just levels of intelligence.
Some more ideas about Testing

No one will ever say that I have to pass this test. Instead each student will be saying, "My examinations are going well, but I still need to learn more". There will be no falling behind, just behind on schedule, which is based on the average time it takes for a student to acquire a particular level of intelligence. You will get there, and when you do, the rest is up to you. Learn as much as you can, but remember, your school will always be here for you, you are a member of this school for life. There will be no bogus graduations or lame commencement speeches, there will be only levels of intelligence that you have obtained, and earned. And since this school is always progressing and improving, then coming back to school from time to time will definitely be a benefit to you.

Every kid who leaves school each day should be saying, "I'm so freaking glad that I went to school today", every student should be saying that every day, if not, then the school they are attending is ineffective. I went to that school, and it sucked. There is nothing more exhilarating then learning, so if you don't feel good when learning, then your teacher is not teaching right, or not teaching the subject correctly for your particular style of learning. Going to school should be an incredible opportunity. Everyday that you have a chance to go to school should be thought of as a chance to learn something important. You should be saying, "I have to go to school today because I have to figure out this problem that I'm having in my life", or, "I got to go to school today because I have some important questions that need answering." Every kid coming to school should feel like they are coming home, like they are coming to a place of sanctuary. A place of enlightenment. This is what every school should be, if not, then the school is ineffective.

Students will be more intelligent then their parents.
Reason 1: Students will be learning more then their parents.
Reason 2: Most parents have stopped learning, so parents will not be up to date on what is known.
So every student will be responsible for teaching others, making sure that everyone is aware of valuable knowledge and information and all the benefits that come from knowing.

Every teacher in the school will be constantly updated on what classes each student has attended, when they attended the class, and if they were tested. Every month each student will be evaluated so they can clearly understand their progress. So if any student needs extra help or needs to catch up in a certain area of knowledge then they will given a chance to do so in each class or be given a private tutor to help them achieve their goals. So there should always be more then one teacher in each class.

School of Thought
A school of thought (or intellectual tradition) is a collection or group of people who share common characteristics of opinion or outlook of a philosophy, discipline, belief, social movement, economics, cultural movement, or art movement. Schools are often characterized by their currency, and thus classified into "new" and "old" schools. There is a convention, in political and philosophical fields of thought, to have "modern", and "classical" schools of thought. Hundred Schools of Thought

Update definition of School of Thought:

A School of Thought is a school who's main purpose is to disseminate the most valuable knowledge and information that the world has to offer. Knowledge that has been created collectively up to the present moment. The goal of Knowledge is to foster Intelligence and create unlimited potential in every student.

In science and philosophy, a paradigm is a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns, including theories, research methods, postulates, and standards for what constitutes legitimate contributions to a field.

Paradigm Shift
A fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions, a scientific revolution. A fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline.

A student doesn't need to know everything, they just need to know where everything is, in case they need it. 
Working Memory

Constructivism (psychological school) refers to many schools of thought that, though extraordinarily different in their techniques (applied in fields such as education and psychotherapy), are all connected by a common critique of previous standard approaches, and by shared assumptions about the active constructive nature of human knowledge. In particular, the critique is aimed at the "associationist" postulate of empiricism, "by which the mind is conceived as a passive system that gathers its contents from its environment and, through the act of knowing, produces a copy of the order of reality."

5 Classes  -  1 hour Each
With 10 minutes of Questions  -  5 Minutes of Relaxation  -  15 minutes between each Class - Flextime

Information Literacy
Problem Solving
Human Development
Learning - Teaching

Feedback At the end of each class there will be 10 minutes of questions from students. All questions will posted until all questions are answered. Questions will appear on the Blackboard or other media platforms that can display public organized knowledge (websites, information stations, library and so on)  Then if needed, questions and answers will be indexed and categorized in the proper locations in the Public Knowledge Database. Flexibility will always be considered depending on the students needs

Collaborative Classroom
Class Dojo
Social Learning

The last 5 minutes of every class will be for processing, meditating, stretching, tai chi, or other forms of quite refection and thinking.

All classes will be video taped for future reference, and to improve teaching methods, and to allow students who miss class to review what they have missed.

15 minutes between each Class. (Socialize, Study, Eat, Drink, Stretch, Make Phone Calls, Seek Counseling and so on)

Food will be available throughout the entire school day.
The cafeteria will also double as a nutrition class and food awareness zone.
Students and Teachers will learn where their food comes from as well as all the ingredients and nutritional values.
Students and Teachers can also monitor their Weight, Height, Blood Pressure and Calorie Intake.
(Urinalysis and Blood Work can be done at the Nurses Office when needed)

Typical Schedule  (Time Flexibility and Options Available)

8:00 - 9:00 AM    |      9:15 - 10:15    |     10:30 - 11:30 AM

1.5 Hours for Lunch:   Eat and Drink  -  Meditation  -  Yoga  -  Walk  -  Exercise  -  Study  -  Processing

1:00 PM - 2:00     |      2:15 - 3:15 PM

End of the Day
Healthy Snack  -  Research  -  Activities  -  Meditation -  Awareness  -  Counseling  -  Tutoring  -  Calendar  -  Planning

This is what School will be...

What ever you feel like learning today, we will help you learn. As long as you keep in mind that there is valuable knowledge and information that you need to learn. Knowledge that will give you more abilities, more control, more power, more freedom, more potential, more possibilities, and also increase your chances significantly of having a more prosperous and fulfilling life. So what ever you feel like learning, you should be able to incorporate valuable knowledge lessons into that particular learning experience that you chose. So if you wanted to climb a mountain, you should use climbing a mountain is a great opportunity to learn. You could learn a lot about the environment, and also learn a lot about the physical and mental capabilities of the human body and the human mind.

Schools will work on real problems that are plaguing the world. Students will learn what knowledge, information and skills are needed to solve these problems. So the incentive and reasons to learn will always be present.

The first 16 years of your life is the best time to learn, especially if you learn the right things at the right time, because that knowledge will benefit you forever. But if your education starts out slow or late, or if your education was never adequate to begin with, then you will need to repair old knowledge as well as learn new knowledge, so learning will take longer, and learning will be a little more difficult, but learning will still be totally worth it and incredibly rewarding, because you will be able to relieve yourself of ignorance that was doing you more harm then good. And this realization will inspire you to keep learning. And Epiphanies will continually happen to you, as long as you keep learning the right things at the right time. Self-Directed Inspired Ideas 

The constructs of language helps us acquire knowledge and store knowledge more efficiently and more effectively, And that is a proven fact. Take away language, or reduce language abilities, you will reduce learning, and you will reduce awareness, and you will reduce understanding. And that is one of the main reasons why so many schools are so ineffective, because literacy and comprehension abilities are extremely inadequate.

When students are learning how to read, they should be reading about the most valuable knowledge and information that is currently available, and also be learning about why certain knowledge and information is valuable, so that every student will eventually have the ability to learn on their own, and be able to seek out valuable knowledge and information in all its forms.

Flex Time - Sleeping Schedules 

No Strict or Stubborn Schedules,  everyone needs Flexibility    Flextime
You just can't have these strict and stubborn scheduled Dictations, that thing schools call a Classroom. Coming to class should never be a requirement. The only requirement there should be is that a person learns. Students should not be forced to learn at a particular time or place, or forced to learn by dictation, or forced to learn by scheduled testing. Ask the student what they wish to learn? What's important to them? As long as they understand knowledge and skill requirements, and understand the benefits of those requirements, students should be given the freedom and the resources to learn what ever they need to learn. You should never limit the ways that a student can learn. Putting strict requirements on learning restricts learning.  


"You don't want to force people to learn something when they are not ready to learn, or force people to learn something that they don't need to learn at a particular time in their studies."  "We don't want people to be totally subjected to schedules, we sometimes have to change schedules to meet the particular needs of each person."  Routines are necessary, but not always.

You don't need to force students to show up to school in order to learn, students should have the option to learn at home, or in other groups in other places. The school in just a Headquarters. So you can just check in with your nearest BK101 Headquarters to let us know how you're doing. If we don't hear from you, we may call you or have one of your friends check in with you to make sure that everything is going fine. We might one day even pay you to go come to school, you can call it an investment in your future, or just think of it as just one of the many incentives for coming to school.

"You don't want people to learn things that they can't handle emotionally or intellectually. And you don't want people to learn things that they don't fully understand, because then they will not learn effectively, and they will also waste time and energy. So the sequence is important, just like the sequence of a developing human, there is a logical order to development.

Team Sports are great, but you should also have a sport that you can practice all own your own. Then you can test your abilities anytime, and you don't have to wait for others. Why isn't learning a sport? It's one of the most important skills a person can have. You can compete with others, or you can compete with yourself.

Student says "I want to learn this?" Teacher then explains what things are needed first to accomplish their goal, and then provides the needed knowledge, information and courses for the student, so that they can reach their desired goal. Just as long as the goal is a benefit to them and to others, and not a distraction, or an incorrect path to take, if so they must do it on their own time.

Everyone should be free to explore, and they should be given the best knowledge and information that is available that would help them on their journey of exploration.

School should start early and end late to accommodate students schedules. Students who sleep late, go home late. Students who start early, go home early. But the most important thing is to teach students about the importance of Good Sleep Habits, and the importance of Time Management, the benefits of having a Schedule, the importance of Punctuality, and the importance of Prioritizing. You do not want to encourage staying up late, or getting up late, but you don't want to restrict sleeping habits, or punish different sleeping habits either. We must teach students about good sleeping habits and the benefits of having a regular schedules, as well as, know how to survive if sleeping schedules change. Enforcing earlier bedtimes is totally ridiculous. It's better to teach students how to maximize their waking hours, and how not to waste too much time when they're awake.
Flextime (PDF)
Time Discipline (PDF)

School Start Times for Middle School and High School Students — United States, 2011–12 School Year (Research by CDC)

Respecting other Peoples Time
Punctuality is the characteristic of being able to complete a required task or fulfill an obligation before or at a previously designated time. "Punctual" is often used synonymously with "on time". It is a common misconception that punctual can also, when talking about grammar, mean "to be accurate". According to each culture, there is often an understanding about what is considered an acceptable degree of punctuality. Usually, a small amount of lateness is acceptable; this is commonly about ten or fifteen minutes in Western cultures, but this is not the case in such instances as doctor's appointments or school lessons. In
some cultures, such as Japanese society, and settings, such as military ones, expectations may be much stricter. Some cultures have an unspoken understanding that actual deadlines are different from stated deadlines, for example with Africa time. For example, it may be understood in a particular culture that people will turn up an hour later than advertised. In this case, since everyone understands that a 9 pm party will actually start at around 10 pm, no-one is inconvenienced when everyone arrives at 10 pm. In cultures which value punctuality, being late is seen as disrespectful of others' time and may be considered insulting. In such cases, punctuality may be enforced by social penalties, for example by excluding low-status latecomers from meetings entirely. Such considerations can lead on to considering the value of punctuality in econometrics and to considering the effects of
non-punctuality on others in Queueing Theory..

Value of Time (wiki)

Staying on Time Tips
Have everything ready the night before.
Keep your essentials near the door.
Create a staging area near the door.
Anticipate delays before they happen.
Commit yourself to being 15 minutes early for everything.
Overestimate the time it'll take to get there.
Don't hit the snooze button.
Re-examine how long your daily tasks really take.
Time yourself a few days in a row to see how long it actual.
ttakes you to perform certain tasks.
Wikihow: Be Punctual

Immersion  -  Simultaneous Subject Teaching

Classroom of the future will be like Holodeck from Star Trek and the Loading Program from the Matrix. If you don't have four empty walls then you can have three totally white walls to project images on and play sound from, with the windows of the room at your back. Total submersion into a subject, interactive and adjustable, making learning an incredible and enjoyable journey. The room would also have a digital display that would show temperature, oxygen level, humidity and other environmental factors to guarantee that the student has a comfortable learning environment. You can also do this using big learning posters and info-graphs that cover the walls. They can even design and print their own posters as they learn more about the subject and how the information in each subject should be presented so that understanding is maximized.  

Exocentric Environment In the field of user interfaces, an exocentric environment refers to a virtual reality or some other immersive environment which completely encompasses the user, e.g. by placing the viewer in a room made up entirely of rear projection screens. Systems which merely display a virtual reality directly to the user (e.g. using a head-mounted display) do not qualify. They are endocentric environments.
Immersion (virtual reality) is a perception of being physically present in a non-physical world. The perception is created by surrounding the user of the VR system in images, sound or other stimuli that provide an engrossing total environment.
Virtual Reality
Scientific Modeling is a scientific activity, the aim of which is to make a particular part or feature of the world easier to understand, define, quantify, visualize, or simulate by referencing it to existing and usually commonly accepted knowledge. It requires selecting and identifying relevant aspects of a situation in the real world and then using different types of models for different aims, such as conceptual models to better understand, operational models to operationalize, mathematical models to quantify, and graphical models to visualize the subject. Modelling is an essential and inseparable part of scientific activity, and many scientific disciplines have their own ideas about specific types of modelling.
Immersion using Simultaneous Subject Teaching

Immersion Poster Samples

Building Blocks of Life

Fractions Learning Poster


Photosynthesis Learning Poster
 Photosynthesis (solar power)


Day Dream Education educational posters and interactive software with over 2,000 innovative and engaging educational products.

Learning Outside the Classroom - The Classroom has always been Outside

Not all schools days will be inside in the classroom. One day a week schools must take classrooms outside and have students and teachers venture into the community, into businesses, into local government, and into the environment. Students must see our problems first hand and talk to the people who are most affected and understand some of the social issues. 

Exercise and physical activities have many benefits on the mind and the body, but you still need lots of knowledge in order to fully utilize all those benefits. Learning is the single greatest exercise that most people overlook.

Playground Zoning increases Physical Activity during Recess. Zones with specific games can improve physical activity, improving a child’s chance of engaging in the recommended 60 minutes of “play per day. vimeo

Use a playground as a way to teach Science, Math, Physics, Human Development, Body Smart, Environment, Sports, Social Interactions and teamwork, to name a few. Simultaneous Subject Teaching

Field Research
Experience Learning
Field Trip
Service Learning and Community Engagement
Study Abroad

Outdoor Classroom Project
Nature Play
Taking the Classroom Outside Action Plan (PDF)

Learning Games

Takaharu Tezuka: The Best Kindergarten School you've ever seen (video)
Teaching Outside the Classroom  

We need to design Jungle Gyms that teach and Playgrounds that Educate.  

Body Intelligence
Physical Education

Use big brother and big sister so each kid has an older person to mentor them during their outdoor learning adventure. The outdoor experience must be combined with other skills like math, science, physics, biology, sociology and so on.

Outdoor Education
Advanced Outdoor Courses
Jungle Gyms

Outdoor Schools
Adventurer Schools
Survival Books and Info
Foraging Wild Foods
Nature Benefits

Outdoor Gear Check List and Camping List
Recommended Gear
Backpacking Tips

Schools Out Film

Having children learning outside in nature is extremely important. While they are exploring and discovering you can teach them about the environment at the same time. You can teach them about cause and effect, and how things change for a reason. You can teach them about how some actions cause damage, while other actions minimize impact. Let them know that almost everything in their environment can be explained. So there is a lot to learn, especially about all the benefits of plants, animals and insects. And there is a lot to learn about all the dangers of plants, animals and insects. Related subjects are chemistry, biology, botany, science, physics, math, history, and so on. You can also teach them about how there are things in our world that we can not see with our eyes. But the more we learn, the more we can see, and understand. The outdoors can provide us with a lifetime of happiness, but only if we respect the land. And the only way to create respect, is to learn everything that you can about the earth. Respect comes from knowing , and knowing comes from learning, and learning comes from exploring. Whether the exploring is in the from of reading, researching, or from directly studying the environment, there are always opportunities to learn. Remind children that Life is the Outdoors. And that the Indoor life is not the same thing. Children should understand the differences between the outside world, and the inside world. Both need careful consideration equally, for they both have benefits, and dangers.

The process of giving careful thought to something. Showing concern for the rights and feelings of others. Information that should be kept in mind when making a decision. Kind and considerate regard for others. A considerate and thoughtful act. Morals

Having intellectual depth. Exhibiting or characterized by careful thought. Acting with or showing thought and good sense. Intelligence

Fiddleheads Forest School
Chippewa Nature Center
All Friends Nature School 
The Brooklyn New School

The Natural Start Alliance 
Outdoor Preschools in greater Seattle
Shaker Lakes

Enriching the Outdoor Play Experience.


Playgrounds have been ignored as venues for learning, although educational experts have emphasized play as an important aspect in developmentally appropriate programs. Aside from the physical and motor development offered by outdoor play, opportunities to improve social interaction through both social and intellectual play are also available. Early childhood educators should avail of the potential diversity and richness offered by outdoor play environments that you can learn from, simultaneously.

Play (Social aspects)
Early childhood education (Methods)
Playgrounds (Social aspects)
Author: Hennger, Michael L.
Pub Date: 12/22/1993
Publication: Name: Childhood Education Publisher: Association for Childhood Education International Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education; Family and marriage Copyright: COPYRIGHT 1993 Association for Childhood Education International ISSN: 0009-4056
Issue: Date: Winter, 1993 Source Volume: v70 Source Issue: n2
Accession Number:14982895

Full Text:
Teachers, administrators and others generally consider playgrounds and the activities that occur there less important than indoor spaces in the lives of young children. This view is reflected in textbooks used to prepare teachers for early childhood education (e.g., Brewer, 1992; Feeney, Christensen & Moravcik, 1991; Lay-Dopyera & Dopyera, 1990; Seefeldt & Barbour, 1990). In a quick review of these texts, the author found an average of 21 pages describing the indoor play setting and its preparation and only a little under 5 pages discussing the outdoor play site. Similarly, although the National Association for the Education of Young Children emphasizes play as an essential ingredient in developmentally appropriate programs, it gives few specifics for providing such experiences outdoors (Bredekamp, 1987).

From their inception, playgrounds and outdoor play experiences have been viewed primarily as an opportunity to develop physical skills through vigorous exercise and play (Frost & Wortham, 1988). Despite this long-held attitude, educators are becoming more aware that outdoor play can be much more valuable than previously assumed.

Clearly, outdoor play can stimulate physical-motor development (Myers, 1985; Pellegrini, 1991). In addition, however, playgrounds are a positive setting for enhancing social interaction (Kraft, 1989; Pellegrini & Perlmutter, 1988). Further evidence indicates that well-equipped playgrounds can stimulate a variety of play types, including dramatic play (Henniger, 1985).

Outdoor play can be as effective as indoor play in facilitating young children's development. Frost & Wortham (1988) suggest "The outdoor play environment should enhance every aspect of child development--motor, cognitive, social, emotional--and their correlates--creativity, problem-solving, and just plain fun".

With a little effort, playgrounds can move from their current rather sterile status (Frost, Bowers & Wortham, 1990) to more stimulating, creative spaces for young children. Most playgrounds would benefit by more variety in available materials and spaces. Movable toys and equipment can make playgrounds into spaces where children can have a greater effect on their environment. In addition, concerned adults need to ensure that children have numerous opportunities for dramatic play outdoors. Finally, Playgrounds need to be safe environments where children are free to explore without fear of injury from materials or equipment.

The play experiences of young children are often categorized either according to the level of intellectual functioning or in relationship to their social complexity. Smilansky (1968) defined four major types of cognitive or intellectual play (functional, construction, dramatic, games with rules) and Parten (1932) suggested four additional social play categories (solitary, parallel, associative, cooperative).

To help facilitate these important play types in the indoor setting, early educators have consistently provided children with a large variety of quality play materials and toys (e.g., blocks, manipulatives, art materials, housekeeping items, dramatic play materials, musical instruments and objects from the natural environment). Teachers spend considerable planning time organizing these materials into interesting and inviting centers and ensuring that new choices are available to children on a regular basis.

Options for the playground are much more limited (Frost, Bowers & Wortham, 1990). Although swings, slides, climbers, tricycles and a sandbox are common, this equipment is not sufficient to stimulate a broad spectrum of quality outdoor play. Spaces for children to engage in solitary play (e.g., a cluster of plants with a small opening for the child), toys and props for dramatic play (see Jelks & Dukes, 1985) and materials for construction play (e.g., outdoor blocks, wooden boards and boxes, small cable spools, gardening space and tools, old tires) are needed to enrich the variety and complexity of the playground. Concerned teachers should periodically reorganize the playground to provide new and exciting choices for young children.

Esbensen (1987) suggested that teachers consider the outdoor setting to be an extension of the classroom, with the same potential for enhancing development. He defined seven play zones that should exist on every playground: transition, manipulative/creative, projective/fantasy, focal/social, social/dramatic, physical and natural element. Esbensen recommended the addition of a playhouse containing a table and chair set, housekeeping toys and equipment, and other home-related accessories to stimulate more social/dramatic play outdoors. With additional planning and preparation, teachers can create these zones and ensure that the children participate in a variety of play types.

Movable Toys and Equipment
An essential element of learning in the early childhood years is the opportunity to affect the environment. Children learn a great deal by manipulating the materials and equipment in their world (Kamii & DeVries, 1978). Play helps children actively make sense of their environment (Piaget, 1951). Through active play, children are learning, exploring and creating. Wassermann (1992) called this the generative function of play.

Nearly all of the indoor play materials can be manipulated by children. Puzzles, blocks, art materials, musical instruments and dramatic play props are among the many materials commonly found indoors. On the playground, however, this diversity is rare. Frost, Bowers and Wortham (1990) recently conducted a survey of American preschool playgrounds and found that tricycles were most often available, with an average of about three per playground. Loose tires, sand, wagons, barrels and loose boards (building material, stacking blocks) were available, in descending order, ranging from about two tires per playground to about one barrel or board to every three playgrounds. Children who play outdoors therefore have very few movable equipment options. Adding more movable toys and equipment is not a difficult task. Children do not need expensive or hard-to-find items. In fact, common and inexpensive materials generally suffice. A good example of a creative playground space made with inexpensive materials is the Adventure Playground designed for older children (see Louv, 1978; Michaelis, 1979; Pedersen, 1985). The Adventure Playground, which originated in Denmark in the 1940s (Pedersen, 1985), consists of a rich variety of building materials such as scrap lumber, bricks, tires, rope and sand. With the assistance of a trained play leader, children spend countless hours building, using and tearing down their play structures, and then beginning the process all over again (Louv, 1978).

Similar materials and tools can easily be added to the preschool playground to enhance young children's opportunities to manipulate and construct in the outdoor environment. The number of tires, barrels and loose boards found on some playgrounds (Frost, Bowers & Wortham, 1990) can be increased and child-sized cable spools, outdoor blocks, gardening tools and small wooden or plastic boxes can be added.

To protect this equipment from weather and vandalism, a storage method is needed. Either a storage shed or part of an existing play structure (such as underneath a slide/fort structure) must be designated to house movable materials when not in use. If the storage area is readily accessible to children, with low shelves and baskets or boxes for loose parts, they can assume responsibility for taking out and returning this equipment.

Providing More Opportunities for Dramatic Play
Literature addressing the issue of play (e.g., Erikson, 1977; Piaget, 1951; Singer & Singer, 1990; Smilansky, 1968) clearly indicates that dramatic or imaginative play is of central importance in the young child's development. Dramatic play is key to success in later formal education. The young child who can readily manipulate symbols in dramatic play is much more likely to accept and effectively use the arbitrary symbol systems of mathematics and written language (Dyson, 1990; Nourot & Van Hoorn, 1991; Smilansky & Shefatya, 1990).

Early educators recognize the importance of this play type and provide materials and space indoors for housekeeping, dramatic play and blocks. These centers, when stocked with quality play materials, stimulate a rich assortment of creative dramatic play that frequently spreads into other areas of the classroom. This variety of opportunities for indoor dramatic play helps meet the needs and interests of the greatest number of children. When new materials are rotated in and out of the classroom centers on a regular basis, these interests are maintained over time.

Although dramatic play opportunities do exist outdoors, they are limited and often created spontaneously by the children themselves with the few available materials. Monroe (1985) found that over half of all child care centers studied had no specific equipment for outdoor dramatic play. Frost, Bowers and Wortham (1990) found dramatic play equipment on fewer than one-third of all preschool playgrounds surveyed.

Dramatic play equipment for use outdoors can be readily purchased or scrounged. Also, some materials that are typically found in indoor dramatic play centers can be taken outdoors. For example, a camp can be set up outside with tent, fire pit, sleeping bags, cookstove and cooking utensils. Placed in a box or similar storage container, related props can be taken outside and returned indoors with relative ease (see Jelks & Dukes, 1985).

A steering wheel from a car or truck can be mounted in a wooden box and placed on the playground to stimulate a variety of dramatic play activities. The same wheel, nestled inside an old boat, can encourage nautical themes. When placed in front of a line of wooden boxes, the steering wheel can become the engine car of a train. A playhouse or fort-like structure can be purchased or constructed by parents and community members and used by children in other creative play themes. Early educators can use their imagination to develop a long list of similar materials that stimulate good dramatic play outdoors.

Safety Issues
Exciting outdoor play spaces also need to be safe environments for young children. Unfortunately, teachers and administrators are frequently unaware of the many unnecessary hazards that playgrounds contain. Although safety issues have been identified for nearly 20 years, statistics indicate that a growing number of children continue to be treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries incurred on the playground (Wallach, 1990).

The most significant problem on playgrounds today is the hardpacked surfaces under and around equipment (Tinsworth & Kramer, 1989). Falling from playground structures onto a hard surface, such as asphalt or packed earth, can cause serious injury. Concerned adults must replace these surfaces with more appropriate materials (such as 12 inches of sand or pea gravel) to reduce this unnecessary hazard (Thompson, 1991).

Other problems associated with playgrounds for young children include: equipment spacing, improper equipment installation, irregular maintenance and inadequate briefing of children on playground use (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1991). Each of these issues must be addressed so that playgrounds can be low-risk places for children to experiment in and explore.

Children deserve the same diversity and richness in their outdoor play environments as they have indoors. Esbensen (1987) and Frost and Wortham (1988) offer many suggestions for those interested in gaining further insights into this topic. By carefully analyzing the playground setting and determining what is missing, concerned adults can provide a greater variety of play materials and more opportunities to manipulate materials and nurture dramatic play. Then, by spending more time planning for and implementing a more complete playground curriculum, teachers and administrators can help children take full advantage of this marvelous, but frequently underdeveloped, part of a complete early childhood program.

Bredekamp, S. (Ed.). (1987). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Brewer, J. (1992). Introduction to early childhood education. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Dyson, A. (1990). Symbol makers, symbol weavers: How children link play, pictures, and print. Young Children, 45(2), 50-57.
Erikson, E. (1977). Toys and reason. New York: Norton.
Esbensen, S. (1987). An outdoor classroom. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press.
Feeney, S., Christensen, D., & Moravcik, E. (1991). Who am I in the lives of children? New York: Merrill.
Frost, J. L., Bowers, L., & Wortham, S. (1990). The state of American preschool playgrounds. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 61(8), 18-23.
Frost, J. L., & Wortham, S. (1988). The evolution of American playgrounds. Young Children, 43(5), 19-28.
Henniger, M. L. (1985). Preschool children's play behaviors in an indoor and outdoor environment. In J. L. Frost & S. Sunderlin (Eds.), When children play (pp. 145-149). Wheaton, MD: Association for Childhood Education International.
Jelks, P. A., & Dukes, L. (1985). Promising props for outdoor play. Day Care and Early Education, 13(1), 18-20.
Kamii, C., & DeVries, R. (1978). Physical knowledge in preschool education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Kraft, R. E. (1989). Children at play. Behavior of children at recess. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 60(4), 21-24.
Lay-Dopyera, M., and Dopyera, J. (1990). Becoming a teacher of young children. New York: McGraw Hill.
Louv, R. (1978). Loose on the playground. Human Behavior, 7(5), 18-21, 23-25.
Michaelis, B. (1979). Adventure playgrounds: A healthy affirmation of the rights of the child. Journal of Physical Education and Recreation, 50(8), 55-58.
Monroe, M. (1985). An evaluation of day care playgrounds in Texas. In J. L. Frost & S. Sunderlin (Eds.), When children play (pp. 193-199). Wheaton, MD: Association for Childhood Education International.
Myers, G. D. (1985). Motor behavior of kindergartners during physical education and free play. In J. L. Frost & S. Sunderlin (Eds.), When children play (pp. 151-155). Wheaton, MD: Association for Childhood Education International.
Nourot, P. M., & Van Hoorn, J. (1991). Symbolic play in preschool and primary settings. Young Children, 46(6), 40-50.
Parten, M. (1932). Social participation among preschool children. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 27, 243-269.
Pedersen, J. (1985). The adventure playgrounds of Denmark. In J. L. Frost & S. Sunderlin (Eds.), When children play (pp. 201-207). Wheaton, MD: Association for Childhood Education International.
Pellegrini, A. (1991). Outdoor recess: Is it really necessary? Principal, 71(40), 23.
Pellegrini, A., & Perlmutter, J. (1988). Rough-and-tumble play on the elementary school playground. Young Children, 43(2), 14-17.
Piaget, J. (1951). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. New York: W. W. Norton.
Seefeldt, C., & Barbour, N. (1990). Early childhood education: An introduction (2nd ed.). New York: Merrill.
Singer, D., & Singer, J. (1990). The house of make-believe: Play and the developing imagination. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Smilansky, S. (1968). The effect of sociodramatic play on disadvantaged preschool children. New York: Wiley.
Smilansky, S., & Shefatya, L. (1990). Facilitating play: A medium for promoting cognitive, socio-emotional and academic development in young children. Gaithersburg, MD: Psychosocial and Educational Publications.
Tinsworth, D. K., & Kramer, J. T. (1989). Playground equipment-related injuries involving falls to the surface. Washington, DC: U.S. Product Safety Commission.
Thompson, D. (1991). Safe playground surfaces: What should be used under playground equipment? Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, November-December, 74-75.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. (1991). Handbook for public playground safety. Washington, DC: Author.
Wallach, F. (1990). Playground safety update. Parks and Recreation, 25(8), 46-50.
Wassermann, S. (1992). Serious play in the classroom. Childhood Education, 68(3), 133-139.
Michael L. Henniger is Associate Professor, Department of Educational Curriculum & Instruction, Woodring College of Education, Western Washington University, Bellingham.
Gale Copyright: Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

How Dramatic Play Can Enhance Learning
By Marie E. Cecchini MS

Dramatic play can be defined as a type of play where children accept and assign roles, and then act them out. It is a time when they break through the walls of reality, pretend to be someone or something different from themselves, and dramatize situations and actions to go along with the roles they have chosen to play. And while this type of play may be viewed as frivolous by some, it remains an integral part of the developmental learning process by allowing children to develop skills in such areas as abstract thinking, literacy, math, and social studies, in a timely, natural manner.

The Proper Environment
In many classrooms the dramatic play area has traditionally been centered in “housekeeping”. However, when we actually watch children play, we see them reinventing scenes that might take place in other areas of life such as gas stations, building sites, department stores, classrooms, or libraries. This should tell us, that in order to derive the full benefit from dramatic play as it relates to learning, early educators should “set the stage” throughout the classroom.

Setting the Stage
Any dramatic play area should be inviting. Presentation alone should inspire creative and imaginative play. This should be an area where the children can immediately take on a role and begin pretending. In establishing these areas, you will want to consider the following.

1. Each area should incorporate a variety of materials that encourage dramatic play, such as hats, masks, clothes, shoes, tools, vehicles, etc. You can include both teacher-made and commercial materials. The types of materials you supply will depend on the “theme” of the area.
2. Part of your materials list for each area should include items that stimulate literacy activities, like reading and writing. Paper, pencils, a chalk board, wipe-off board, address books, and greeting cards are all examples of materials that might be used to promote the development of literacy skills.
3. Materials should be developmentally appropriate and allow for both creativity and flexibility in play. This includes materials that can be used by all children (unisex) and those that may be used in more than one way (a table as a table, or with a blanket over it, as a dog house).
4. The goal of all areas should be to reinforce grade level appropriate physical, cognitive, and social skills.

Finally, try to change the materials (or props, as they are sometimes called) on a regular basis. Different materials on occasion will enhance the area, spark new interest in a much used area, and allow the children to incorporate new experiences in their play.

The Dramatic Play Skill Set
There are basically six skills children work with and develop as they take part in dramatic play experiences.

Role Playing – This is where children mimic behaviors and verbal expressions of someone or something they are pretending to be. At first they will imitate one or two actions, but as time progresses they will be able to expand their roles by creating several actions relevant to the role they are playing.

Use of Materials - Props – By incorporating objects into pretend play, children can extend or elaborate on their play. In the beginning they will mainly rely on realistic materials. From there they will move on to material substitution, such as using a rope to represent a fire hose, and progress to holding in their hands in such as way to indicate that they are holding an actual hose.

Pretending - Make-Believe – All dramatic play is make-believe. Children pretend to be the mother, fireman, driver, etc. by imitating actions they have witnessed others doing. As the use of dramatic play increases, they begin to use words to enhance and describe their re-enactments. Some children may even engage in fantasy, where the situations they are acting out aren’t pulled from real-life experiences.

Attention Span - Length of Time – Early ventures into the field of dramatic play may only last a few minutes, but as the children grow, develop, and experience more, they will be able to incorporate additional actions and words, which will lengthen the time they engage in such activities.

Social Skills - Interaction – Dramatic play promotes the development of social skills through interaction with others, peers or adults. As children climb the social skill ladder of development through play, they will move from pretending at the same time without any actual interaction, to pretending that involves several children playing different roles and relating to each other from the perspective of their assigned roles.

Communication – Dramatic play promotes the use of speaking and listening skills. When children take part in this type of play, they practice words they have heard others say, and realize that they must listen to what other “players” say in order to be able to respond in an appropriate fashion. It also teaches them to choose their words wisely so that others will understand exactly what it is they are trying to communicate.

Dramatic Play and Development
Dramatic play enhances child development in four major areas.

Social - Emotional – When children come together in a dramatic play experience, they have to agree on a topic (basically what “show” they will perform), negotiate roles, and cooperate to bring it all together. And by recreating some of the life experiences they actually face, they learn how to cope with any fears and worries that may accompany these experiences. Children who participate in dramatic play experiences are better able to show empathy for others because they have “tried out” being that someone else for a while. They also develop the skills they need to cooperate with their peers, learn to control their impulses, and tend to be less aggressive than children who do not engage in this type of play.

Physical – Dramatic play helps children develop both gross and fine motor skills – fire fighters climb and parents dress their babies. And when children put their materials away, they practice eye-hand coordination and visual discrimination.

Cognitive – When children are involved in make-believe play, they make use of pictures they have created in their minds to recreate past experiences, which is a form of abstract thinking. Setting a table for a meal, counting out change as a cashier, dialing a telephone, and setting the clock promote the use of math skills. By adding such things as magazines, road signs, food boxes and cans, paper and pencils to the materials included in the area, we help children develop literacy skills. When children come together in this form of play, they also learn how to share ideas, and solve problems together.

Language – In order to work together in a dramatic play situation, children learn to use language to explain what they are doing. They learn to ask and answer questions and the words they use fit whatever role they are playing. Personal vocabularies grow as they begin to use new words appropriately, and the importance of reading and writing skills in everyday life becomes apparent by their use of literacy materials that fill the area.

Dramatic play engages children in both life and learning. Its’ real value lies in the fact that it increases their understanding of the world they live in, while it works to develop personal skills that will help them meet with success throughout their lives.

Marie is the author of five books. She continues to write articles for parents and teachers.

Dramatic Play

Dramatic play permits children to fit the reality of the world into their own interests and knowledge. One of the purest forms of symbolic thought available to young children, dramatic play contributes strongly to the intellectual development of children (Piaget, 1962). Symbolic play is a necessary part of a child's language development (Edmonds, 1976).

Drama: What It Is and What It Isn't
Drama is the portrayal of life as seen from the actor's view. In early childhood, drama needs no written lines to memorize, structured behavior patterns to imitate, nor is an audience needed. Children need only a safe, interesting environment and freedom to experiment with roles, conflict, and problem solving. When provided with such an environment, children become interested in and will attend to the task at hand and develop their concentration (Way, 1967). Opportunities for dramatic play that are spontaneous, child-initiated, and open-ended are important for all young children. Because individual expression is key, children of all physical and cognitive abilities enjoy and learn from dramatic play and creative dramatics. In early childhood, the term dramatic play is most frequently used and the process is the most important part, not the production. Dramatic play expands a child's awareness of self in relation to others and the environment. Drama is not the production of plays usually done to please adults rather than children (Wagner, 1976).

Elements of Drama in the Early Childhood Classroom
Dramatic play includes role-playing, puppetry, and fantasy play. It does not require interaction with another.
Socio-dramatic play is dramatic play with the additional component of social interaction with either a peer or teacher (Mayesky, 1988; Smilansky, 1968).
Creative dramatics involves spontaneous, creative play. It is structured and incorporates the problem solving skills of planning and evaluation. Children frequently reenact a scene or a story. Planning and evaluating occurs in creative dramatics (Chambers, 1970, 1977)

Collaborative Classroom

What Is the Collaborative Classroom?

M.B. Tinzmann, B.F. Jones, T.F. Fennimore, J. Bakker, C. Fine, and J. Pierce NCREL, Oak Brook, 1990
New Learning and Thinking Curricula Require Collaboration 
Collaborative Classroom
Collaboration Resources

In Guidebook 1, we explored a "new" vision of learning and suggested four characteristics of successful learners: They are knowledgeable, self-determined strategic, and empathetic thinkers. Research indicates successful learning also involves an interaction of the learner, the materials, the teacher, and the context. Applying this research, new guidelines in the major content areas stress thinking. Guidebook 2 describes these new guidelines and provides four characteristics of "a thinking curriculum" that cut across content areas. The chief characteristic of a thinking curriculum is the dual agenda of content and process for all students. Characteristics that derive from this agenda include in-depth learning; involving students in real-world, relevant tasks; engaging students in holistic tasks from kindergarten through high school; and utilizing students' prior knowledge.

Effective communication and collaboration are essential to becoming a successful learner. It is primarily through dialogue and examining different perspectives that students become knowledgeable, strategic, self-determined, and empathetic. Moreover, involving students in real-world tasks and linking new information to prior knowledge requires effective communication and collaboration among teachers, students, and others. Indeed, it is through dialogue and interaction that curriculum objectives come alive. Collaborative learning affords students enormous advantages not available from more traditional instruction because a group--whether it be the whole class or a learning group within the class--can accomplish meaningful learning and solve problems better than any individual can alone.

Classroom Management Tips

This focus on the collective knowledge and thinking of the group changes the roles of students and teachers and the way they interact in the classroom. Significantly, a groundswell of interest exists among practitioners to involve students in collaboration
in classrooms at all grade levels.

The purpose of this GuideBook is to elaborate what classroom collaboration means so that this grass-roots movement can continue to grow and flourish. We will describe characteristics of these classrooms and student and teacher roles, summarize relevant research, address some issues related to changing instruction, and give examples of a variety of teaching methods and practices that embody these characteristics. Characteristics of a Collaborative Classroom

Collaborative classrooms seem to have four general characteristics. The first two capture changing relationships between teachers and students. The third characterizes teachers' new approaches to instruction. The fourth addresses the composition of a collaborative classroom.

1. Shared knowledge among teachers and students

In traditional classrooms, the dominant metaphor for teaching is the teacher as information giver; knowledge flows only one way from teacher to student. In contrast, the metaphor for collaborative classrooms is shared knowledge. The teacher has vital
knowledge about content, skills, and instruction, and still provides that information to students. However, collaborative teachers also value and build upon the knowledge, personal experiences, language, strategies, and culture that students bring to the
learning situation.

Consider a lesson on insect-eating plants, for example. Few students, and perhaps few teachers, are likely to have direct knowledge about such plants. Thus, when those students who do have relevant experiences are given an opportunity to share them, the whole class is enriched. Moreover, when students see that their experiences and knowledge are valued, they are motivated to listen and learn in new ways, and they are more likely to make important connections between their own learning and "school" learning. They become empowered. This same phenomenon occurs when the knowledge parents and other
community members have is valued and used within the school.

Additionally, complex thinking about difficult problems, such as world hunger, begs for multiple ideas about causes, implications, and potential solutions. In fact, nearly all of the new curricular goals are of this nature--for example, mathematical problem-solving--as are new requirements to teach topics such as AIDS. They require multiple ways to represent and solve problems and many perspectives on issues.

2. Shared authority among teachers and students

In collaborative classrooms, teachers share authority with students in very specific ways. In most traditional classrooms, the teacher is largely, if not exclusively, responsible for setting goals, designing learning tasks, and assessing what is learned.

Collaborative teachers differ in that they invite students to set specific goals within the framework of what is being taught, provide options for activities and assignments that capture different student interests and goals, and encourage students to assess what
they learn. Collaborative teachers encourage students' use of their own knowledge, ensure that students share their knowledge and their learning strategies, treat each other respectfully, and focus on high levels of understanding. They help students listen to
diverse opinions, support knowledge claims with evidence, engage in critical and creative thinking, and participate in open and meaningful dialogue.

Suppose, for example, the students have just read a chapter on colonial America and are required to prepare a product on the topic. While a more traditional teacher might ask all students to write a ten-page essay, the collaborative teacher might ask students to define the product themselves. Some could plan a videotape; some could dramatize events in colonial America; others could investigate original sources that support or do not support the textbook chapter and draw comparisons among them; and some could write a ten-page paper. The point here is twofold: (1) students have opportunities to ask and investigate questions of personal interest, and (2) they have a voice in the decision-making process. These opportunities are essential for both self-regulated learning and motivation.

3. Teachers as mediators

As knowledge and authority are shared among teachers and students, the role of the teacher increasingly emphasizes mediated learning. Successful mediation helps students connect new information to their experiences and to learning in other areas, helps
students figure out what to do when they are stumped, and helps them learn how to learn. Above all, the teacher as mediator adjusts the level of information and support so as to maximize the ability to take responsibility for learning. This characteristic of
collaborative classrooms is so important, we devote a whole section to it below.

4. Heterogeneous groupings of students

The perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds of all students are important for enriching learning in the classroom. As learning beyond the classroom increasingly requires understanding diverse perspectives, it is essential to provide students
opportunities to do this in multiple contexts in schools. In collaborative classrooms where students are engaged in a thinking curriculum, everyone learns from everyone else, and no student is deprived of this opportunity for making contributions and appreciating the contributions of others.

Thus, a critical characteristic of collaborative classrooms is that students are not segregated according to supposed ability, achievement, interests, or any other characteristic. Segregation seriously weakens collaboration and impoverishes the
classroom by depriving all students of opportunities to learn from and with each other. Students we might label unsuccessful in a traditional classroom learn from "brighter" students, but, more importantly, the so-called brighter students have just as much to
learn from their more average peers. Teachers beginning to teach collaboratively often express delight when they observe the insights revealed by their supposedly weaker students.

Thus, shared knowledge and authority, mediated learning, and heterogeneous groups of students are essential characteristics of collaborative classrooms. These characteristics, which are elaborated below, necessitate new roles for teachers and students that lead to interactions different from those in more traditional classrooms. Teacher Roles in a Collaborative Classroom

Across this nation, teachers are defining their roles in terms of mediating learning through dialogue and collaboration. While mediation has been defined in different ways by Reuven Feuerstein, Lev Vygotsky and others, we define mediation here as facilitating, modeling, and coaching. Most teachers engage in these practices from time to time. What is important here is that these behaviors (1) drive instruction in collaborative classrooms, and (2) have specific purposes in collaborative contexts.

Facilitator Facilitating involves creating rich environments and activities for linking new information to prior knowledge, providing opportunities for collaborative work and problem solving, and offering students a multiplicity of authentic learning tasks. This
may first involve attention to the physical environment. For example, teachers move desks so that all students can see each other, thus establishing a setting that promotes true discussion. Teacher may also wish to move their desks from the front of the room to a less prominent space.

Additionally, teachers may structure the resources in the classroom to provide a diversity of genres and perspectives, to use and build upon cultural artifacts from the students' homes and communities, and to organize various learning activities. Thus, a
collaborative classroom often has a multiplicity of projects or activity centers using everyday objects for representing numerical information in meaningful ways and for conducting experiments that solve real problems. These classrooms also boast a rich
variety of magazines, journals, newspapers, audiotapes, and videos which allow students to experience and use diverse media for communicating ideas. In Video Conference 1, for example, students were shown investigating science concepts using everyday materials, such as paper and straw, found in their neighborhoods.

Facilitating in collaborative classrooms also involves people. Inside the classroom, students are organized into heterogeneous groups with roles such as Team Leader, Encourager, Reteller, Recorder, and Spokesperson. (See Elizabeth Cohen's work for further elaboration.) Additionally, collaborative teachers work to involve parents and community members. Examples are: A workshop center in New York invites parents to come and experience the thinking processes involved in conducting experiments using everyday objects so that they can provide such learning experiences at home (Video Conference 1); teachers in Tucson involve parents and the community in academic tasks their students engage in (Video Conference 3), and rural students in Colorado perform community services such as producing a local newspaper (Video Conference 5).

Another way that teachers facilitate collaborative learning is to establish classrooms with diverse and flexible social structures that promote the sort of classroom behavior they deem appropriate for communication and collaboration among students. These structures are rules and standards of behaviors, fulfilling several functions in group interaction, and influencing group attitudes. Particular rules depend, of course, on the classroom context. Thus, teachers often develop them collaboratively with students and review or change them as needed. Examples of rules are giving all members a chance to participate, valuing others' comments, and arguing against (or for) ideas rather than people. Examples of group functions are: asking for information, clarifying, summarizing, encouraging, and relieving tension. To facilitate high quality group interaction, teachers may need to teach, and students may need to practice, rules and functions for group interaction.

Finally, teachers facilitate collaborative learning by creating learning tasks that encourage diversity, but which aim at high standards of performance for all students. These tasks involve students in high-level thought processes such as decision making and problem solving that are best accomplished in collaboration. These tasks enable students to make connections to real-world objects, events, and situations in their own and an expanded world, and tap their diverse perspectives and experiences. Learning tasks foster students' confidence and at the same time, are appropriately challenging.

Model Modeling has been emphasized by many local and state guidelines as sharing one's thinking and demonstrating or explaining something. However, in collaborative classrooms, modeling serves to share with students not only what one is thinking about the content to be learned, but also the process of communication and collaborative learning. Modeling may involve thinking aloud (sharing thoughts about something) or demonstrating (showing students how to do something in a step-by-step fashion).

In terms of content, teachers might verbalize the thinking processes they use to make a prediction about a scientific experiment, to summarize ideas in a passage, to figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word, to represent and solve a problem, to organize
complicated information, and so on. Just as important, they would also think aloud about their doubts and uncertainties. This type of metacognitive thinking and thinking aloud when things do not go smoothly is invaluable in helping students understand that learning requires effort and is often difficult for people.

With respect to group process, teachers may share their thinking about the various roles, rules, and relationships in collaborative classrooms. Consider leadership, for example. A teacher might model what he or she thinks about such questions as how to manage the group's time or how to achieve consensus. Similarly, showing students how to think through tough group situations and problems of communication is as invaluable as modeling how to plan an approach to an academic problem, monitoring its progress, and assessing what was learned.

A major challenge in mediating learning is to determine when it is appropriate to model by thinking aloud and when it is useful to model by demonstrating. If a teacher is certain that students have little experience with, say, a mathematical procedure, then it
may be appropriate to demonstrate it before students engage in a learning task. (This is not to say that the teacher assumes or states that there is only one way to perform the procedure. It is also important to allow for individual variations in application.) If, on the other hand, the teacher believes students can come up with the procedure themselves, then he or she might elect to ask the students to model how they solved the problem; alternatively the teacher could give students hints or cues. (See below.)

Coach Coaching involves giving hints or cues, providing feedback, redirecting students' efforts, and helping them use a strategy. A major principle of coaching is to provide the right amount of help when students need it--neither too much nor too little so that students retain as much responsibility as possible for their own learning.

For example, a collaborative group of junior high students worked on the economic development of several nations. They accumulated a lot of information about the countries and decided that the best way to present it was to compare the countries. But they were stymied as to how to organize the information so they could write about it in a paper, the product they chose to produce. Their teacher hinted that they use a matrix--a graphic organizer they had learned--to organize their information. When the group finished the matrix, the teacher gave them feedback. In so doing, he did not tell them it was right or wrong, but asked questions that helped them verbalize their reasons for completing the matrix as they did. The principle the teacher followed was to coach enough so that students could continue to learn by drawing on the ideas of other group members. Student Roles in a Collaborative Classroom

Students also assume new roles in the collaborative classroom. Their major roles are collaborator and active participator. It is useful to think how these new roles influence the processes and activities students conduct before, during, and after learning. For
example, before learning, students set goals and plan learning tasks; during learning, they work together to accomplish tasks and monitor their progress; and after learning, they assess their performance and plan for future learning. As mediator, the teacher helps students fulfill their new roles.

Goal setting Students prepare for learning in many ways. Especially important is goal setting, a critical process that helps guide many other before-, during-, and and after-learning activities. Although teachers still set goals for students, they often provide students with choices. When students collaborate, they should talk about their goals. For example, one teacher asked students to set goals for a unit on garbage. In one group, a student wanted to find out if garbage is a problem, another wanted to know what happens to garbage, a third wanted to know what is being done to solve the problem of garbage. The fourth member could not think of a goal, but agreed that the first three were important and adopted them. These students became more actively involved in the unit after their discussion about goals, and at the end of the unit, could better evaluate whether they had attained them.

Designing Learning Tasks and Monitoring While teachers plan general learning tasks, for example, to produce a product to illustrate a concept, historical sequence, personal experience, and so on, students assume much more responsibility in a collaborative classroom for planning their own learning activities. Ideally, these plans derive in part from goals students set for themselves. Thoughtful planning by the teacher ensures that students can work together to attain their own goals and capitalize on their own abilities, knowledge, and strategies within the parameters set by the teacher. Students are more likely to engage in these tasks with more purpose and interest than in traditional classrooms.

Self-regulated learning is important in collaborative classrooms. Students learn to take responsibility for monitoring, adjusting, self-questioning, and questioning each other. Such self-regulating activities are critical for students to learn today, and they are much better learned within a group that shares responsibility for learning. Monitoring is checking one's progress toward goals. Adjusting refers to changes students make, based on monitoring, in what they are doing to reach their goals. For example, a group of students decided that the sources of information on the Civil War they selected initially were not as useful as they had hoped, so they selected new materials. Another group judged that the paper they had planned to write would not accomplish what they thought it would the way they had organized it, so they planned a new paper.

Students can further develop their self-regulating abilities when each group shares its ideas with other groups and gets feedback from them. For example, in the first video conference, elementary students were shown collaborating in small groups to define and represent math problems. Working in small groups, the children determined what was being asked in story problems and thought of ways to solve the problems. Then each group shared its ideas with the whole class. Members of the class commented on the ideas. As students developed problem-solving skills with feedback from other groups, they learned more about regulating their own learning which they could use in the future.

Assessment While teachers have assumed the primary responsibility for assessing students' performance in the past, collaborative classrooms view assessment much more broadly. That is, a major goal is to guide students from the earliest school years to evaluate their own learning. Thus, a new responsibility is self-assessment, a capability that is fostered as students assess group work.

Self-assessment is intimately related to ongoing monitoring of one's progress toward achievement of learning goals. In a collaborative classroom, assessment means more than just assigning a grade. It means evaluating whether one has learned what one intended to learn, the effectiveness of learning strategies, the quality of products and decisions about which products reflect one's best work, the usefulness of the materials used in a task, and whether future learning is needed and how that learning might be realized.

Collaborative classrooms are natural places in which to learn self-assessment. And because decisions about materials and group performance are shared, students feel more free to express doubts, feelings of success, remaining questions, and uncertainties than when they are evaluated only by a teacher. Furthermore, the sense of cooperation (as opposed to competition) that is fostered in collaborative work makes assessment less threatening than in a more traditional assessment situation. Ideally, students learn to evaluate their own learning from their experiences with group evaluation. Interactions in a Collaborative Classroom

The critical role of dialogue in collaborative classrooms has been stressed throughout this Guidebook The collaborative classroom is alive with two-way communication. A major mode of communication is dialogue, which in a collaborative classroom is thinking made public. A major goal for teachers is to maintain this dialogue among students.

Consider examples of interactions in collaborative groups. Members discuss their approaches to solving a math problem, explain their reasoning, and defend their work. Hearing one student's logic prompts the other students to consider an alternative
interpretation. Students are thus challenged to re-examine their own reasoning. When three students in a group ask a fourth student to explain and support her ideas, that is, to make her thinking public, she frequently examines and develops her concepts for herself as she talks. When one student has an insight about how to solve a difficult problem, the others in the group learn how to use a new thinking strategy sooner than if they had worked on their own. Thus, students engaged in interaction often exceed what they can accomplish by working independently.

Collaborative teachers maintain the same sort of high-level talk and interaction when a whole class engages in discussion. They avoid recitation, which consists primarily of reviewing, drilling, and quizzing; i.e., asking questions to which the answer is known by the teacher and there is only one right answer. In true discussion, students talk to each other as well as to the teacher, entertain a variety of points of view, and grapple with questions that have no right or wrong answers. Sometimes both students and the teacher change their minds about an idea. In sum, interactions in whole group discussion mirror what goes on in small groups.

Still a third way interactions differ in collaborative classrooms has been suggested above. Teachers, in their new roles as mediators, spend more time in true interactions with students. They guide students' search for information and help them share their own knowledge. They move from group to group, modeling a learning strategy for one group, engaging in discussion with another, giving feedback to still another. Challenges and Conflicts

When teachers and schools move from traditional to collaborative instruction, several important issues are likely to arise. They are important concerns for teachers, administrators, and parents.

Classroom Control Collaborative classrooms tend to be noisier than traditional classrooms. This is a legitimate issue for a number of people. Some teachers believe that noisy classrooms indicate lack of discipline or teacher control. In such situations, they argue, students cannot learn.

Earlier in this essay we stressed that collaborative classrooms do not lack structure. Indeed, structure becomes critical. Students need opportunities to move about, talk, ask questions, and so on. Thus, we argue that the noise in a smoothly running collaborative classroom indicates that active learning is going on. However, students must be taught the parameters within which they make their choices. Rules and standards must be stressed from the beginning, probably before any collaboration is initiated, and reviewed throughout a school year.

Preparation Time for Collaborative Learning Teachers and administrators may believe that new lesson plans must be formed for these classrooms. To a certain extent, they are correct. But many teachers already have created engaging units and activities that are easily implemented in a collaborative classroom. Furthermore, teachers can begin slowly, making changes in one subject area or unit within a subject area, probably one they are already very comfortable teaching, and then add other subjects and units. Teachers can also share their plans with each other. Indeed, if we expect students to collaborate, we should encourage teachers to do the same! Principals and curriculum specialists can also collaborate with teachers to plan effective segments of instruction. Moreover, there is a tradeoff between the extra planning time needed and benefits such as less time correcting lessons, increased student motivation, and fewer attendance and discipline problems.

Individual Differences Among Students We have touched on this concern in the section on heterogeneous grouping. Nevertheless, many people will still doubt that individual differences can be better addressed in collaborative classrooms than in traditional classrooms with homogeneous grouping.

A major question people have concerns the advantage collaboration affords gifted or high-achieving students. There are two tough issues here. First, many teachers do not believe that low-achieving students have much to contribute to the learning situation; in effect, that they have no prior experiences or knowledge of value. Second, teachers worry that high-achieving students will be held back.

In response to the first issue, many collaborative teachers have expressed surprise when seemingly less-able students had insights and ideas that went way beyond what teachers expected. Further, if each student contributes something, the pool of collective knowledge will indeed be rich. In answer to the second concern, data suggest that high-achieving students gain much from their exposure to diverse experiences and also from peer tutoring (e.g., Johnson and Johnson, 1989). Also, students who may be high achieving in one area may need help in other areas.

Teachers and others also wonder whether shy students can fully participate in a classroom that depends so much on dialogue. We suggest that these students might feel more comfortable talking in small groups that share responsibility for learning. Furthermore, interaction between learners can happen in ways other than oral dialogue, for example, writing and art.

A related concern is that many schools are structured homogeneously so that an individual teacher cannot form heterogeneous groups without involving changes in the entire school. A whole class of "low" readers are taught by one teacher, "average" by another. High school tracks are even more systematically entrenched. Clearly, these practices are not conducive to collaborative learning and require system-wide restructuring. Individual teachers or groups of teachers can initiate dialogue on the problem, however.

Individual Responsibility for Learning This concern is a difficult one to solve unless major changes in other areas of schooling are also undertaken. Students are used to being graded for individual work; parents expect to know how their students fare in school. School staff and state departments depend on traditional assessments. In collaborative classrooms, it is often difficult to assign individual grades. Some teachers give group grades, but many students and parents are uncomfortable with these.

Ideally, assessment practices should be changed so that they are consistent with collaboration, with a new view of learning and with a thinking curriculum. Video Conference 4 addresses recent research and practice on assessment. In the meantime,
effective ways have been developed whereby individual students can be evaluated in collaborative classrooms. For example, David Johnson and Roger Johnson, as well as Robert Slavin, advise making individuals responsible for subtasks in group work and then determining both group and individual grades.

Conflict of Values Susan Florio-Ruane has observed that many teachers do not feel comfortable allowing students to initiate dialogue, determine topics, or explore perspectives other than the teacher's. This reluctance conflicts with the way effective
caregivers teach their children in the home. Florio-Ruane and others, such as Annemarie Palincsar, have found that teachers often have difficulty helping students construct meaning, especially linking the new information to the prior knowledge and culture of the students. In part this is because many teachers believe that their role is to transmit knowledge; in part it is because they are held accountable for teaching discrete skills. In one poignant example, a student teacher's concern for grammar and punctuation prevented her from seeing the sophistication and meaning in what the child was actually communicating in a book report.

The reluctance people feel when asked to make major changes in the way they do things is clearly the most serious issue of those discussed here. Hardly a person exists who eagerly gives up familiar ways of behaving to attempt something that is unknown and is likely to have many challenges of implementation.

This problem requires leadership, support, and time to address. Staff development needs to address teachers' concerns. We urge that educators first examine their assumptions about learning and then consider new curriculum guidelines. There is an intimate relationship among one's definition of learning, one's view of the content and scope of curricula, and instructional practices. Examining one's assumptions honestly and forthrightly, in a supportive group, often spurs educators to change. The already-convinced must allow time for the less-convinced to reflect and grapple with implications for the views expressed in this Guidebook They must also accept the possibility that some educators may not change. We are urging that students be treated with such respect; we must urge the same respect for adults. What Is the Research Base for Collaborative Learning? Vygotskian Theory

Vygotsky, a developmental theorist and researcher who worked in the 1920s and early '30s, has influenced some of the current research of collaboration among students and teachers and on the role of cultural learning and schooling. His principal premise is that human beings are products not only of biology, but also of their human cultures. Intellectual functioning is the product of our social history, and language is the key mode by which we learn our cultures and through which we organize our verbal thinking and regulate our actions. Children learn such higher functioning from interacting with the adults and other children around them.

Inner Speech Children learn when they engage in activities and dialogue with others, usually adults or more capable peers. Children gradually internalize this dialogue so that it becomes inner speech, the means by which they direct their own behavior and thinking. For example, as adults use language such as, "That piece does not fit there; let's try it someplace else," children may initially just imitate this strategy. However, they gradually use it to regulate their own behavior in a variety of contexts.
Eventually, this dialogue becomes internalized as inner speech.

There seems to be a general sequence in the development of speech for oneself. When alone, very young children tend to talk about what they have done after they complete an activity. Later, they talk as they work. Finally, they talk to themselves before they engage in an activity. Speech now has assumed a planning function. Later they internalize this speech. Inner speech--conversations we carry on with ourselves begins as a social dialogue with other people and is a major mode of learning, planning, and self-regulation.

Various experiments demonstrate this self-regulating function of inner speech. Vygotsky reasoned that when people are asked to solve difficult problems or to perform difficult tasks, inner speech will go external, that is, take its more primitive form. In other words, people frequently talk to themselves when they face a problem. This externalization of inner speech is often observed in children. When they engage in familiar, simple activities, they usually do so without talk, but faced with difficult tasks, they may whisper or talk out loud to themselves. Adults do this, too. When they are faced with perplexing or unfamiliar tasks such as figuring out how to work a VCR--they often talk themselves through such tasks.

Vygotsky noted that children interacting toward a common goal tend to regulate each other's actions. Other researchers (e.g., Forman & Cazden, 1986) have observed that when students work together on complex tasks, they assist each other in much the same way adults assist children. In such tasks, dialogue consists of mutual regulation. Together, they can solve difficult problems they cannot solve working independently.

Scaffolding and Development Effective caregivers engage in regulating dialogue with children almost naturally. A key phenomenon of such interactions is that caregivers maintain the dialogue just above the level where children can perform activities independently. As children learn, adults change the nature of their dialogue so that they continue to support the child but also give the child increasing responsibility for the task (for example, the adult might say, "Now see if you can find the next piece of the puzzle yourself."). Jerome Bruner and his colleagues called this scaffolding. It takes place within a child's zone of proximal development, a level or range in which a child can perform a task with help. (Piaget refers to this as "teachable moments" when adults stretch a child's capacity, but stay within what they are capable of understanding.)

The zone of proximal development, scaffolding, and dialogue are especially useful concepts or frameworks for school learning. Vygotsky observed that effective teachers plan and carry out learning activities within children's zones of proximal development,
through dialogue and scaffolding. Florio-Ruane drew five maxims from studies of caregiver-child interactions that illustrate these points and should characterize school instruction.

1. Assume the child (learner) is competent

2. Know the child (learner)

3. Share an interest in the task at hand with the child (learner)

4. Follow the child's (learner's) lead

5. Capitalize on uncertainty

Very few teachers have the luxury of teaching children on a one-to-one basis. Fortunately, we now know that tutoring is not, in fact, the only--or even the best--way for students to learn in most situations. Dialogue, scaffolding, and working in one's
zone of proximal development can be accomplished in collaborative classrooms, and are being accomplished in many classrooms today.

Connecting school learning to everyday life Vygotsky also provides us with a framework for thinking about an important function of teaching and the multicultural perspective. His research suggests that school learning enables students to connect their "everyday concepts" to "scientific concepts." In other words, schools help students draw generalizations and construct meaning from their own experiences, knowledge, and strategies. Knowledge learned in the community and knowledge gained from school are both valuable. Neither can be ignored if students are to engage in meaningful learning.

Effective teachers help students make these connections by scaffolding and dialogue. In fact, these are the essence of mediating. Teachers plan learning activities at points where students are challenged. Teachers plan activities and experiments that build on the language of students' everyday lives through familiar examples and behaviors, analogies and metaphors, and the use of commonly found materials. Teachers demonstrate, do parts of the task students cannot do, work collaboratively with students where they need help, and release responsibility to students when they can perform the task independently.
Other Research

A number of researchers in recent years have demonstrated the high degree of learning possible when students can collaborate in learning tasks and when they use their own knowledge as a foundation for school learning. While there are many that we could cite, we have chosen three different perspectives here: Luis Moll's work on teachers' use of successful cultural patterns in Mexican-American families; Annemarie Palincsar's and Anne Brown's work on scaffolding, dialogue, and reciprocal teaching; and research on cooperative learning. Later we provide additional research in content area examples.

Luis Moll Moll, an educator, and his colleagues in anthropology, Carlos Velez-lbanez and James Greenberg, have studied Mexican-American families who have survived successfully in spite of debilitating circumstances such as poverty and discrimination. Particular constellations of cultural patterns--strategies if you will-- that value learning and the transmission of knowledge to children distinguish these families. Moll et al. argue that schools can draw on the social and cognitive contributions that parents can make to their children's academic learning.

Moll and his colleagues discovered that Mexican-American households are clustered according to kinship ties and exchange relationships. These clusters of households develop rich funds of knowledge that provide information about practices and resources useful in ensuring the well-being of the households. Each household in the cluster is a place where expertise in a particular domain can be accessed and used; examples of domains include repair of vehicles and appliances, plumbing, knowledge of education, herbal medicine, and first aid. Together, the households form a cluster for the exchange of information and resources. Often, everyone seems to congregate at one core household.

Families create settings in which children carry out the tasks and chores in the multiple domains of clustered households. The children's activities have important intellectual consequences. They observe, question, and assist adults as various tasks are done. For example, the son may indicate interest in fixing a car by asking questions. The father takes his cue from the child and then decides whether or not the child is capable of doing a task; if not, he may suggest a task that the child can accomplish. Even though the son's help may be minimal, such as helping to put in screws or checking the oil, his participation in the whole task is encouraged as an essential part of learning. He is allowed to attempt tasks and to experiment without fear of punishment if he fails. In such families, learning and questioning are in the hands of the child.

With time children develop expertise as well. They have many opportunities in the cluster of households to apply what they have learned to tasks of their own design. For example, the son may have a workplace where there are many "junk" engines that he can manipulate and with which he can experiment. He may use what he has learned in observing and assisting his father to rebuild a small engine for a "go-cart" he is constructing.

Moll and his colleagues are exploring ways of using the community to enrich children's academic development. To accomplish this, teachers have developed an after-school laboratory. One teacher created a module on constructing houses which is a theme of great interest to the students in this teacher's classroom and also one of the most prominent funds of knowledge found in the students' households. The students started by locating information on building or construction in the library. As a result of their research, they built a model house or other structure as homework and wrote reports describing their research and explaining their construction. To extend this activity, the teacher invited parents and other community members who were experts to share information on specific aspects of construction. For example, one parent described his use of construction tools and how he measured the area and perimeter of his work site. Thus, the teacher was mobilizing the funds of knowledge in the community to achieve the instructional goals that she and her students had negotiated together.

The students then took the module one step further. They wanted to consider how they could combine these individual structures to form a community. This task required both application of their earlier learnings and considerable research. Students went out to do research, wrote summaries of their findings, and shared the results orally with others in the class. Thus, students fulfilled their own interests and designed the learning task, while the teacher facilitated and mediated the learning process and fulfilled her curricular goal of teaching language arts.

Palincsar and Brown Palincsar and Brown have applied Vygotsky's theories about dialogue and scaffolding to classroom instruction. They reasoned that if the natural dialogue that occurs outside of school between a child and adult is so powerful for promoting learning, it ought to promote learning in school as well. In particular, they were interested in the planning and self-regulation such dialogue might foster in learners as well as the insights teachers might gain about their students' thinking processes as they engage in learning tasks. In addition, dialogue among students might be especially effective for
encouraging collaborative problem solving.

Palincsar and Brown noted that, in contrast to effective adult-child interactions outside of school, classroom talk does not always encourage students to develop self-regulation. Thus, a goal of their research was to find ways to make dialogue a major mode of interaction between teachers and students to encourage self-regulated learning.

Their classroom research revealed increased self-regulation in classrooms where, subsequent to training, dialogue became a natural activity. Within a joint dialogue, teachers modeled thinking strategies effectively, apparently in part because students
felt free to express uncertainty, ask questions, and share their knowledge without fear of criticism. The students gave the teachers clues, so to speak, as to the kind of learning they were ready for. For example, one student interrupted her teacher when she did not understand something the teacher was reading. The teacher took this opportunity to model a clarifying strategy. (It also would have been appropriate to have asked other students to model the process.) In a number of classrooms, students freely discussed what they knew about topics, thus revealing persistent misconceptions. Such revelations do not always happen in more traditional classrooms. Furthermore, teachers helped students change their misconceptions through continued dialogue.

One particular application was in reading comprehension for students identified as poor readers. The researchers proposed that poor readers have had impoverished experiences with reading for meaning in school and concluded that they might learn comprehension strategies through dialogue. To encourage joint responsibility for dialogue, they asked students to take increasing responsibility for leading discussion, i.e., to act as the teacher. This turn-taking is called reciprocal teaching.

The four comprehension strategies that are stressed are: predicting, question generating, summarizing, and clarifying. The "teacher" leads dialogue about the text. Predicting activates students' prior knowledge about the text and helps them make connections between new information and what they already know, and gives them a purpose for reading. Students also learn to generate questions themselves rather than responding only to teacher questions. Students collaborate to accomplish summarizing, which encourages them to integrate what they have learned. Clarifying promotes comprehension monitoring.
Students share their uncertainties about unfamiliar vocabulary, confusing text passages, and difficult concepts.

Reciprocal teaching has been successful, but only when teachers believe the underlying assumption that collaboration among teachers and students to construct meaning, solve problems, and so forth, leads to higher quality learning. Believing this is only a
beginning. Engaging in true dialogue requires practice for both teachers and students. However, the principles of collaborative dialogue and scaffolding for purposes of self-regulated learning ought to be effective across many content areas. What may differ, of course, are the critical specific strategies for different subject areas. For example, defining problems seems critical in mathematics; judging the reliability of resources appears important in social studies; and seeking empirical evidence is essential in science. In fact, Palincsar is currently investigating problem solving in science.

Cooperative Learning Cooperation, a form of collaboration, is "working together to accomplish shared goals" (Johnson & Johnson, 1989, p. 2). Whereas collaboration happens in both small and large groups, cooperation refers primarily to small groups of students working together. Many teachers and whole schools are adopting cooperation as the primary structure for classroom learning.

Research strongly supports the advantages of cooperative learning over competition and individualized learning in a wide array of learning tasks. Compared to competitive or individual work, cooperation leads to higher group and individual achievement, higher-quality reasoning strategies, more frequent transfer of these from the group to individual members, more metacognition, and more new ideas and solutions to problems. In addition, students working in cooperative groups tend to be more intrinsically motivated, intellectually curious, caring of others, and psychologically healthy. That is not to say that competition and individual work should not be valued and encouraged, however. For example, competition is appropriate when there can be only one winner, as in a sports event, and individualistic effort is appropriate when the goal is personally beneficial and has no influence on the goals of others.

Unfortunately, simply putting students in groups and letting them go is not enough to attain the outcomes listed above. Indeed, many teachers and schools have failed to implement cooperation because they have not understood that cooperative skills must be learned and practiced, especially since students are used to working on their own in competition for grades. At least three conditions must prevail, according to Johnson and Johnson, if cooperation is to work. First, students must see themselves as positively interdependent so that they take a personal responsibility for working to achieve group goals. Second, students must engage in considerable face-to-face interaction in which they help each other, share resources, give constructive feedback to each other, challenge other members' reasoning and ideas, keep an open mind, act in a trustworthy manner, and promote a feeling of safety to reduce anxiety of all members. Heterogeneous groups of students usually accomplish this second condition better than do homogeneous groups.

The third condition, effective group process skills, is necessary for the first two to prevail. In fact, group skills are never "mastered." Students continually need to reflect on their interactions and evaluate their cooperative work. For example, students need to learn skills both for accomplishing tasks, such as summarizing and consensus taking, and for maintaining group cohesiveness, such as ensuring that everyone has a chance to speak and compromising.

Some people, such as Slavin, have developed specific cooperative learning methods that emphasize individual responsibility for group members. While groups still work to achieve common goals, each member fulfills a particular role or accomplishes an individual task. Teachers can then assess both group and individual work.

Difficult as it may be to implement cooperative learning, those who have are enthusiastic. (See the example from Joliet West High School in the next section.) They see improved learning, more effective social skills, and higher self-esteem for most of their students. In addition, they recognize that our changing world demands more and more cooperation among individuals, communities, and nations, and that they are indeed preparing students for this world. What Are Other Examples of Collaborative Instruction? The Kamehameha Early Education Program

Some teachers in Hawaiian classrooms, in cooperation with researchers such as Katherine Au, have developed a way to teach elementary reading, Experience-Text-Relationship (ETR), that focuses on comprehension and draws on the strengths of the Hawaiian culture. The basic element of the ETR method is discussion of a text and topics related to the text, especially students' own experiences.

Teachers conduct discussion of stories in three phases. First, they guide students to activate what they know that will help them understand what they read, make predictions, and set purposes. This is the Experience phase. Next, they read the story with the
students, stopping at appropriate points to discuss the story, determine whether their predictions were confirmed, and so on. This is the Text phase. After they have finished the story, teachers guide students to relate ideas from a text to their own experiences. This is the Relationship phase. Teachers facilitate comprehension, model processes, and may coach students as they engage in reading and comprehension activities.

Hawaiians engage in "talk story" as a favored way to narrate stories. While some cultures expect only one person to relate a story, Hawaiians cooperate by taking turns relating small parts of a story. Encouraging such strategies in reading lessons promotes collaboration among students and the teacher and involves, indirectly, the community as well. (Cooperation among family and group members is also important in other aspects of the culture.) As a result, the ETR method not only attends to students' experiences related to the content of a text, but also honors communication strategies students have learned in their own cultures.

Content Area Reading Harold Herber developed a set of teaching strategies for content area reading for older students, particularly high school students, in which teachers show students how to comprehend text through simulation (modeling and facilitating) rather than asking recitation questions that merely assess whether students have understood a text.

In addition, use of small, heterogeneous, collaborative groups in content area reading increases students' involvement in learning. They are more willing to take risks and to learn new strategies and ideas from their peers. Teachers who use Herber's strategies report that all students seem to benefit from collaborative work. They find that it is critical, however, to teach students how to work in groups.

Process Writing The process writing approach we describe here was developed in a rural school in New Hampshire under the direction of Donald Graves. It has been incorporated in many elementary school classrooms but is just as appropriate for older children.

Process writing teachers who use Graves' approach make certain assumptions about students and the writing process. One is that students have worthwhile ideas to communicate in writing. Another is that when students select their own topics they will learn more about writing than if teachers always assign topics. A third is that writing should be read by real audiences, that is, that writing is constructing meaning by a community of writers and readers.

Both teachers and students engage in writing as a craft. Teachers' main functions are to facilitate, model, and coach. Students dialogue with other students in conferences and as part of an audience. The mode of interaction is collaboration among students and the teacher.

Teachers fulfill their mediating roles in many ways. They facilitate by providing time to write every day and by setting standards with the students for conferencing, sharing, and being an audience. They model by writing along with the students and thinking aloud about how to solve problems writers encounter such as selecting topics and making revisions. Coaching often takes place in teacher-student conferences, and student-student conferences mirror the teacher-student conference. Conferences are conceptualized as dialogues between an editor and an author. The "editor" might point out places where the author's writing works especially well, or might point out a confusing passage that the author could revise. Graves provides many practical guidelines for, and examples of, successful conferencing.

Many important interactions are promoted in process writing. Students work on their own, but also share their writing with other students and the teacher. When a student decides to share his or her work with the whole class, he or she is treated as a real author. Questions that other students ask the student author would be the same ones they might ask a "real" author; for example, "Where did you get your idea for that story?" When students feel a piece is finished, they publish it and place it on the classroom shelves alongside books by their peers and "real" authors.

Finding Mathematical Patterns Mathematics is full of opportunities for students to collaborate on tasks that require complex thinking. Well-designed problems require interpretation, allow for multiple solution strategies, and have solutions that can be
debated, extended, and generalized to other contexts. Thomas Good and his colleagues at the University of Missouri-Columbia have identified exemplary practices in small-group mathematics instruction.

As an illustration, they summarize a lesson developed by a third-grade teacher. She began the lesson by asking the whole class all the different ways of writing 3 as a sum (for example, 1 + 1 + 1, 2 + 1, 3 + 0). She wrote the responses on the board and noted the number of possibilities. She then asked students to work in pairs to identify all the ways to make sums of 4. The teacher encouraged the students to confer and pool solutions to determine whether they had found all possible solutions. Next she asked small groups of students to consider the number 5. Before the groups started, she asked them to predict how many solutions there would be. With enthusiasm and excitement, the groups competed to find the greatest number of solutions, and much task-related conversation ensued. The teacher then led a follow-up discussion, asking each group to describe the system it had used to generate possible solutions. The class then decided which system they thought was best.

The teacher then helped students look for patterns in the numbers of solutions for 3, 4, and 5. Next, she asked them to use their "best" system to generate all possible patterns for the number 6. Again, she asked if a pattern was apparent and if they could use it to predict solutions for the number 7. Several suggestions were made, but no conclusions agreed on. She ended by encouraging students to think more about this problem.

Application in Mathematics. As part of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, a complete mathematics curriculum has been developed for average students in grades 7-12. Development of this curriculum, which began in 1983, is under the direction of Zalman Usiskin and Sharon Senk, and has involved school personnel at every stage of planning, writing, and testing. The curriculum aims to prepare students for an age in which mathematics has an integral role in contemporary issues, communication, and commerce, as well as its traditional role in science, engineering, and technology. Curricular content focuses on using mathematics to solve real-world problems.

For example, instead of being asked to find a solution to an abstract "problem" such as 400 divided by 11.3, students might be asked, "Suppose a car goes 400 miles between gas fill-ups and it takes 11.3 gallons to fill up the tank. What has been the mileage per gallon?" In classes where this question is asked and the answer (about 35.4 miles per gallon) is found, there are natural questions such as: "Why is this number important?" "Is this possible - do cars get this much mileage? If so, what cars do?" "What is a good gas mileage these days?" "How much less gas would be used on a 10,000-mile trip by a car averaging 35 miles per gallon than a car averaging 25 miles per gallon? How much less would it cost?"

This emphasis on using mathematics to solve real-world problems forces the curriculum to make use of technology. The use of technology--in this case, a calculator - enables the teacher and students to be more efficient in using math to solve problems, freeing up the time formerly spent in calculation for solving additional problems relevant to students' lives. In the School Mathematics Project, scientific calculators are required in all courses because they are available to almost anyone who uses mathematics in the world outside of school. Computer work is recommended in all courses and is required in one advanced course because the content--functions and statistics is not covered adequately today unless one has automatic graphic and data handling capabilities.

In these ways, instruction is changed not because of an a priori decision to use collaborative groups or cooperative learning but because the content and technology lend themselves to discussion and teamwork. Students are usually not satisfied merely with a right/wrong answer to an interesting problem; they wish to discuss it, they want to share their methods of solution, and they want to know whether others thought the same way. One of the salient findings from the testing of this curriculum is that students no longer ask, "How does this topic apply to the real world?" or "Why am I studying this?"

In the algebra curriculum, Usiskin and Senk have included only those "word problems" that show the importance of mathematics in today's world. The curriculum developers point out the pitfalls of problems such as the following, often found in algebra texts: "Reversing the two digits in the cost of an item, a salesperson overcharges a customer by 27 cents. If the sum of the digits was 15, what was the original cost of the item?" Such problems violate two principles of application of mathematics. First, they are reverse given-find, in that one has to know the answer before one can make up the question. In the real world, one would never solve a problem for which one already as solution. Second, such problems are easier to solve with arithmetic than algebra. Usiskin, Senk, and the teachers they work with believe it is because of these two weaknesses that such "word problems" are viewed with such antipathy that many students ask why they are studying the subject. Mathematics, Usiskin, points out, has been invented to do things more easily, not to make things more difficult.

The School Mathematics Project teaches algebraic concepts using real-world problems. For example, linear equations are taught with a wide variety of constant increase or constant decrease problems, such as, "The population of the province of Quebec in Canada was 6,398,000 in 1980. If the population is increasing by 40,000 people per year, find an equation relating the population to the year." An example of a linear combination problem is: "If you eat a quarter-pounder which has 80 calories per ounce, how many 111-calorie French fries can you eat if you don't want your lunch to exceed 500 calories?" An example involving data that needs a line graph is: "Given the latitudes and mean April temperatures of some cities in the northern hemisphere, find an equation approximately relating latitude and temperature. Graph this equation. Explain why the point for Mexico City falls far from the line." Similar problems are used to teach other concepts in algebra and other courses. The goal of the curriculum developers is to show that it is important not only to have skills, to see the relationships among mathematical ideas, and to represent these ideas concretely or pictorially, but also to see why mathematics is so important in so many ways in today's world.

Joliet West High School, Joliet, IL Joliet is a community of approximately 100,000 people diverse in terms of racial background and income level. Whites, blacks, and Hispanics reside in Joliet. It is home to families living in poverty as well as families living in
affluence. In the mid-'80s, Joliet West High school had a high failure rate (37 percent of the freshmen class failed one or more classes) and a high rate of referrals for discipline problems. Determined to equip students with knowledge and skills to succeed
both in school and out, the high school instituted a cooperative learning program exemplifying collaborative instruction.

Basic to Joliet West High School's program are the TEAM (Together Each Accomplishes More) Seminars in which all freshmen participate daily. Seminars provide students with opportunities to experience small-group, cooperative learning. While learning
problem-solving and decision-making skills, students, grouped heterogeneously with regard to race, economic level, and ability, begin to appreciate diverse cultures, attitudes, and abilities. TEAM also involves the community: Local hospital staff talk with freshmen about stress management and drug abuse prevention; other community members introduce students to career possibilities.

Aware that collaboration promotes learning in many settings, Joliet West High School trains many of its content-area teachers to make their classrooms communities of collaboration. In English, history, foreign language, and industrial technology, for
example, students collaborate in small groups or as an entire classroom; they share prior knowledge, set learning goals, monitor their progress, and share responsibility for results. Heterogeneous grouping may team students from various socioeconomic groups and students with varying experiential backgrounds. Gifted students and former Special Education students may collaborate. Classrooms are open communities where all ideas are welcome; students challenge each other and share positive criticism. Teachers offer positive reinforcement and communicate successes to parents.

Collaborative techniques extend to discipline. Student groups, trained in mediation and arbitration, counsel students who are habitually tardy or disruptive.

Joliet's success is evident not only in academic performance, but also in student attitudes, motivation, and self-esteem. Since the program's inception three years ago, the number of students earning grades in the A to C level has increased by 20 percent,
and there has been a significant reduction in the number of failures among the academically at-risk group. Teacher comments illustrate other types of gains: "I use it in auto technology. Students change oil in triads: one picks up the tools, one puts them
away, while one actually does the job. All watch and are responsible that the job is done properly." "I find that there seem to be fewer disciplinary referrals on the freshman level." "In freshman seminar my students are forming their own groups to study before major tests. They quiz each other. They enjoy working together so much, they have even made up their own games and asked me to be part of their group."

Student comments may be the most insightful: "I really like sharing answers. I never shared answers before." "I really like working in groups because you can bring your grade up." "While working in groups there are no arguments. If you disagree with someone you find a way to solve the problem." "I learned not to argue and always help out and share ideas that you think of and do not start fights." "Working with groups is fun because you get to share your facts with someone else."

Beaupre Elementary School, Aurora, IL This school's student population is approximately 44 percent Hispanic, 46 percent black, 9 percent white, and 1 percent Asian. Most students are members of low-income families. Just a few years ago, many Aurora citizens had few expectations of Beaupre students. The community regarded many students as little more than troublemakers. School personnel were frustrated with their students' lack of learning success, particularly in reading.

All that has changed. The program that made all the difference is called Reading, Reading, Everywhere. Far more than a reading program, it demonstrates how collaboration within the classroom, the school, and the community can produce successful learners.

Rather than continuing to rely on homogeneous grouping and entirely on basal readers, Beaupre adopted a whole-language approach and collaborative learning. The curriculum provides students with opportunities to read many types of literature by authors from various cultural backgrounds, opportunities to visit the public library, and diverse writing experiences. An instructional technique known as K-W-L was introduced in classrooms.

Teachers activate students' prior knowledge by asking them what they already KNOW; then students (collaborating as a classroom unit or within small groups) set goals specifying what they WANT to learn; and, after reading, students discuss what they have LEARNED. Students apply higher-order thinking strategies which help them construct meaning from what they read and help them monitor progress toward their goals.

At Beaupre, students often work in cooperative group~ in which each student has a specific responsibility--to complete a product such as a story map. Fifth- and sixth-grade teachers have seen how effectively peer influence regulates behavior when
group members must cooperate to complete a science experiment or other type of assignment.

Beaupre has gained respect in the community by utilizing the talents of community members to further stimulate learning. Among the numerous collaborative efforts are: visits to senior centers where youngsters and senior citizens read to each other; visits to early education centers where Beaupre students share their knowledge with the toddlers; a homework lab operated by teenagers and seniors from a local church; and an Urban League tutoring program operated by parents and high school students. A program exemplifying collaboration as well as a whole-language approach is the school's Read Aloud program. Students in each classroom write to community members inviting them to be the "community reader" for the day. Community members of various ethnic groups and occupations have accepted invitations and serve as role models for the students.

In addition to heightened involvement and respect from parents and the community at large, Beaupre has observed improvement in students' reading habits and abilities: after-school reading was up 20 percent; the number of students holding library cards increased by 28 percent; newspaper readership by students increased significantly. On state reading comprehension and vocabulary assessments, the school rose from last in the school district to first in the county; the percent of students in the bottom quartile on standardized tests for grade 1-6 decreased from 80 percent to 22 percent; and overall reading scores of at-risk students tutored through the Urban League Project increased 34 percent. In fact, 5 of 15 students moved out of the at-risk category.

Redwood Falls High School, Redwood Falls, MN Redwood Falls, a community of 5,000 people, is rapidly changing. What was once a very stable community is now characterized by instability: Many farmers found it necessary to leave the area, others remained and took low income jobs, and a number of new people are moving into the area. The range of income levels is wider now than when agriculture was the main enterprise.

These changes have created a lack of cohesiveness and feelings of insecurity in the community. High school students, especially, fear for their future and wonder if they will find jobs. The town's limited manufacturing enterprises, retail stores, and
remaining farms cannot provide employment for all the town's youth. Most will probably seek jobs in small cities nearby.

To address these problems, in the late 1980s the school system applied to the American Forum in the late 1980s and was awarded a five-year Education 2000 grant. Education 2000 funds enable communities to restructure schools so that students are prepared for a changing society. To accomplish this aim, the entire Redwood Falls community collaborated to set goals and develop a restructuring plan.

These efforts have led to many positive changes. People began regarding the schools as the center of intellectual life for the community at large. Early childhood, family education, and university level adult education courses are among those programs
available to everyone in the community.

Curriculum and instruction have also changed. Instruction is much more collaborative, and curriculum focuses more on higher order thinking skills needed for success in school and in life. Teachers tap students' prior knowledge and help students "learn how to learn," through collaborative problem solving and decision making. When students need information, they ask an "expert" classmate or contact a community expert. Students develop their own tools to "test" how well they have learned. The curriculum has also become more interdisciplinary and builds on the multicultural resources in the community (Native Americans, Swedes, and Norwegians).

In Larry Gavin's high school English class, for example, students work in small groups to critique each other's writing. When students write narrative, they consult Dakota Indian students who are skillful in writing narrative because in their culture, nothing is an "event" until someone tells a story about it. When studying about conflicts on the Great Plains in the 1800s between Native American and white groups, students heard representatives of both groups present their point of view. Gavin, the drama teacher, and the music teacher collaborated to assist students in writing and producing an original one-act play.


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Video Sources
Learning Mediated Through Dialogue. This videotape was developed and copyrighted by NCREL (1990).
Incorporating Community Knowledge in Schools. This videotape was developed and copyrighted by NCREL (1990).
Applications in Mathematics. This videotape was developed and copyrighted by NCREL (1990).

The Thinker Man