Strategies that promote cooperative teaching and learning and how to apply them in the class


Classroom grouping strategies and cooperative learning may be the most flexible and powerful strategies if used appropriately.

It allows students to explore and learn at their own pace.

Here are some examples of the strategies and how to apply them in the teaching and learning process.

1. Paired heads together strategy

This strategy can be used to share knowledge among students.

Students are allowed to work in pairs to share ideas and come out with answers of their own.

How it is applied.

  • The teacher distinguishes ‘shoulder’ learners from ‘face’ learners.
  • The teacher presents a problem and provides learners with ‘think’ time.
  • Learners write their answers individually, without help.
  • Learners share and discuss their answers with their ‘shoulder’ learners coaching, if necessary, to come to their best answer.
  • Learners signal when they are ready.
  • The teacher says, “Turn to your ‘face’ learners.
  • Everyone shares your best answer. Learners just listen.”
  • Learners share as individuals, not pair to pair with the whole class.
  • The teacher then announces the correct answer.
  • This pairing can be done again but now with different learners with another question to be solved. 

2. Rally coach strategy.

Can be used with worksheets or oral problems provided by the teacher.

Students work in pairs.

They take turns, one solving a problem while the other coaches.

How to apply it in the class.

  • The teacher pairs students.
  • Student A solves the first problem, explaining what they are doing.
  • Student B watches, listens, checks, and praises.
  • Student B solves the next problem, explaining what they are doing.
  • Student A also watches, listens, checks and praises.
  • This process is repeated till the problem to be solved is completed. 

3. Find someone who… strategy

Can be used to review a topic or assess prior knowledge.

Students each have a question sheet and ask others in the same class for a correct answer.

How to apply it

  • Give each student a worksheet and ask them to choose a partner.
  • Student A asks student B a question from the worksheet. B responds and A writes down the answer and signs A’s work sheet.
  • Student B then asks Student A question and A responds and B writes down the answer and signs B’s worksheet.
  • Students shake hands/thank each other and move on to find a new student.
  • The whole process is then repeated until all questions have been answered.
  • The answers can then be reviewed within groups or as a whole class. 

 4. Fan-n-pick strategy

Can be used to review a topic or to assess prior knowledge.

Learners work in groups of 3 to ask questions and coach each other to the correct answer.

How it is applied.

  • A pack of question cards is given to learners who are in groups of 3.
  • Learner A shuffles the cards and fans them out, with the questions facing them.
  • Learner B picks a card and reads it out aloud.
  • Learner C answers the question.
  • Learners A and B praise if the answer is correct or coach learner C until they can answer the question correctly.
  • The cards are rotated clockwise after each question so that learners take it in turn to be A, B, and C.

5. Inside/outside circle strategy

Used to introduce new information.

Learners work in large groups.

How to apply it in the class.

  • This is a good structure for having learners excitingly share information.
  • Learners stand in two concentric circles around the classroom. Learners in the inside circle face out, facing a learner standing in the outside circle.
  • Learners from the inside circle share something with their partners.
  • Learners switch roles; the outside circle learners now share while their partners listen.
  • Learners rotate to work with new partners, rotate four people ahead to a new partner, vary by changing the number of positions advanced or switch the direction of the rotation; the class counts aloud the number of positions they are moving so everyone knows when to stop. “One, two, THREE!”  (Movement energizes learners.)
  • Learners problem-solve or share with many partners and hear multiple perspectives.


Learners rotate in pairs and discuss in groups of four;


  • The teacher asks question
  • The inside circle pair discusses questions while the outside circle discusses questions too.
  • pairs compare answers.


  • Learners generate questions they want to ask other learners in the classroom.
  • Put the question in a hat and draw out one question each time the circles rotate.


  • Flashcards
  • Each learner makes up one question on a flashcard.
  • Learners ask each other their questions and switch cards before each rotation.
  • With each rotation, learners get a new partner and a new question.
  • Teacher can supply the flashcards, or act as quality control by collecting and correcting cards before they are used.

6. Blind sequencing strategy

Good for revision.

Groups are best in threes or fours.

They work to sequence cards in their proper order, but there is a catch each learner is given his or her cards, and no one else can see what’s on them!

The teacher prepares sequencing cards.

Content on the cards may be sequencing content or the steps of solving a problem.

Each group receives their cards face down so no one can see what’s on the cards.

How it is done

  • Dealer Deals Cards

One learner is assigned the role of dealer.

The dealer’s job is to equally distribute the cards among group mates.

The dealer deals the cards face down making sure no one can see the cards.

When learners get their cards, they mark the back of the cards to identify them as their cards.

Learners can use initials, a number, a letter, or a geometric shape.

  • Learners Describe Cards

Learners look at their cards, without showing them to anyone.

In turn, each learner describes his or her cards to the team.

Learners describe the cards as well as possible in an attempt to make it easy for the team to sequence the cards.

7. Travelling heads together strategy

Learners work in groups of 4 and travel to new teams to share their team answers.

Can be used to assess prior knowledge or after research on a topic.

How to apply it in the class.

  • The teacher presents a problem and gives think time.
  • Learners privately write their answers.
  • Learners stand, show answers, and discuss, then teach each other.
  • Learners sit down when everyone knows the answer or has something to share.
  • The teacher calls a number, and one learner from each group with that assigned number stands up.
  • The standing learners join another team and sit down with them to share their best answer.

8. Listen to right strategy

During an explanation, the teacher stops talking to allow learners to write the main points, compare with a learner, and celebrate.

How to apply it in the class.

  • The teacher gives information in small chunks. Learners, with pens down, listen carefully for the keywords, phrases, or ideas.
  • Teacher stops talking.
  • Learners write, draw, or add key points to a mind-map.
  • Learners share with a partner, checking for accuracy and making corrections on their papers.
  • Teacher announces key points.
  • Learners celebrate if they correct or make corrections.
  • Learners put pens down and the process is repeated

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