Cooperative learning, a teaching method that encourages extensive student interaction, is being used effectively at Lincoln Elementary School to boost achievement and improve racial harmony, according to the national Teaching Tolerance magazine.
"At Lincoln Elementary, cooperative learning has helped administrators and teachers increase academic achievement and equip students with the ability to speak and work across lines of race, class and gender," wrote Jeff Sapp in the magazine’s Fall 2006 edition.
Cooperative learning is based on the premise that the more students talk with each other, the more they’ll be engaged and the better they will learn. Students work in teams, learning that the success of every team and every team member is not possible without the success and contribution of each member. By taking responsibility for a specific portion of a project – and being graded for that – each student becomes individually accountable.
Bob Williams brought the method to the school more than six years ago when he was principal. This fall he became Director of Special Projects.
Lincoln students "generally like each other because they work together so much in the classroom," Williams said.
The magazine includes an article by researcher Spencer Kagan, a former clinical psychologist and University of California professor. He calls cooperative learning "the single most powerful tool this nation has for improving race relations."
The magazine is available at www.tolerance.org/teach/
. The website and magazine are part of the Teaching Tolerance project, founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, AL.