Cooperative Learning is one of the most popular instructional strategies used by teachers. It is argued that there are five defining elements of cooperative learning:
1) Positive Interdependence where the students fail or succeed together.
2) Face-to-face interaction where the students help each other to succeed.
3) Individual and group accountability where each member must contribute to the group in order to achieve the goal.
4) Interpersonal and small group skills where students learn to work together.
5) Group processing where the students reflect on their ability to be productive in their group dynamics.
(Marzano et al., 2001)

The TAPS method allows the teacher to base groupings of the students in a variety of configurations to meet the needs of the various students. TAPS includes; total group, alone, partners, and small groups (Gregory, 2005).

Flexible grouping is the idea of allowing students to be part of many different groups. This is essential to best meet the needs of the students based on readiness, interest or learning styles. Groups can either be heterogeneous or homogeneous, student selected or teacher selected, or purposeful or random. The teacher will choose the best criteria to best support the desired learning outcomes (Tomlinson, 2001). Groups can be informal which are usually quite random and last for a short amount of time, formal, when students are given enough time to complete an assignment for example, or base groups which last for a significant amount of time and be used as support groups. (Marzano et al., 2001).

Total Group

Presenting new information

Modeling new skills

Guest speaker

Viewing a video

Jigsaw strategy

Textbook assignment



Portfolio assessing


Independent study

Note taking and summarizing


Tickets out

Brainstorming: example template brainstorming rules

Checking homework

Checking for understanding

Processing information

Peer editing

Peer evaluation example template example template 2


Interest in similar topic

Planning for homework

Think Pair Share – The students think alone then pair with a partner and share their ideas.

Noteworthy note spotlights: Each student writes a note with a few things they have learned. The students then go find a partner and share their notes.

Peer-to-Peer Tutoring - One student will assist another student. This works especially well when one student has just had the AHA! moment and needs to reinforce the concepts by verbalizing them to another student.

Sharing - Linking Thinking - Each student writes down two or three things they have learned. They will then meet with a partner and share their information. Partner A begins and when the teacher signals, partner B continues where A left off. The teacher then gives Partner B the opportunity to start the process.

Small Groups
Problem solving

Group projects

Learning centers

Cooperative group learning assignments

Portfolio conferences

Group investigation

Carousel brainstorming

Graffiti brainstorming

Brainstorming Bash

Content Talk - The assignment is divided up and each group is responsible for that question or section.

Cluster Grouping or Ability Grouping
Students are grouped according to their prior knowledge on a subject. This type of formation allows students to work within their ability levels.

Formation of Groups
Stick Picks - The teacher has students' names written on popsicle sticks and picks names to create random pairs or groups.

Energizing Partners - The students have the ability to choose a partner with whom they feel comfortable sharing.

Wagon Wheel Teaming - This approach is used to form groups of students at different levels. The teacher chooses one student from the outer ring (a beginning level student), a student from the first and second inner rings (average level students), and a student from the center ring (expert level student).

Clock Partners -

Retrievef from



Chapman, C., & Gregory, G.H. (2007). Differentiated instructional strategies: One size doesn't fit all, second edition. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.

Gregory, G.H., (2005). Differentiating instruction with style; Maximum achievement. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press

Marzano, R.J., Pickering, D.J., Pollock, J.E., (2001). Classroom instruction that works; Research based strategies for increasing student achievement. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Educational, Inc.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.