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Learning to Cooperate in the K-1 Classroom

The students were very excited to see each other this week after our winter break!  To start 2018 off on a positive note, my students participated in some cooperative games.  I wanted us to practice teamwork, compromising and collaboration skills.  

We learned how to play the cooperative board game Hoot Owl Hoot!  This is a color-coded cooperative matching game where players help the owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up.   This game involves strategy, problem solving, shared decision-making, taking turns and support from your teammates.  In a cooperative game, players work together as a team against a common obstacle, not against each other. Cooperative games emphasize play, not competition and form a sense of community.  The students had so much fun, and although we lost the game, we lost the game together!  After we played, we discussed what went well and what strategies we thought might help us do better next time.  We ran out of time to play again, but the students are ready with some new ideas to try out next week.  

We ended the week with the cooperative coloring activity “Cooperative Cats”.  All the students had the same cat drawing, and in pairs, they had to color it in the exact same way.  This meant that the students had to talk about how they wanted to color it in, check in with their partner, and agree.  This definitely took a lot of compromise and collaboration.  There was potential for frustration and conflict, however, the Buttons passed with cooperative flying colors.  I asked the students pointed questions in a classroom discussion to encourage students to talk through their process.  “Was this activity difficult?” I asked.  “No, because we talked to each other and knew what we were going to do,” said a student.  “You cooperated by talking about a plan that everyone agreed on,” I affirmed.  One pair used rock, paper, scissors to select the color, while another group colored using the rainbow to incorporate both student’s color choices.  

These two activities went so well that I am going to incorporate more cooperative games in the future!

Meghan Brtnik

is a classroom teacher on the K-2 team. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Meghan was a substitute teacher at an international baccalaureate school in Toronto and at the Latin School of Chicago. She graduated from York University, Toronto, with a M.Ed. at the primary/junior level and completed an additional qualification course in special education. Meghan earned a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario in honors psychology, focusing on the psychological and social foundations in human behavior. In addition, Meghan has worked in a Montessori school, tutored students individually, and lived and worked at an all-girls boarding school.
For fun, Meghan loves traveling, trying out new restaurants, exploring new neighborhoods, swimming, reading, and walking.

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