By Dr. Robert Pangrazi, Human Kinetics Author, Professor Emeritus ASU
Cooperative activities teach students to work together for their group's common good. By participating in these activities, students can learn the skills of listening, discussing, thinking as a group, group decision making, and sacrificing individual wants for the common good.
There are two primary objectives guiding the teaching of cooperative activities. First, cooperative activities allow students to apply a variety of fundamental motor skills in a unique setting. Students are typically asked to perform motor skills in a specific way, such as “skip in general space” or “balance on one foot and one elbow.” Cooperative activities ask students to perform different activities such as skip with their hands on the shoulders of someone in front of them, walk with big steps while placing their feet on small spots, or walk across an area blindfolded while someone directs their moves. Due to the uniqueness of such experiences, students often find cooperative activities exciting and motivating.
Second, cooperative activities are a wonderful medium for teaching social and emotional learning (SEL). SEL offers students an opportunity to understand and manage their emotions. In addition, such activities offer an opportunity to show empathy for others and develop positive relationships. Cooperative activities demand that all students play a role in completing the task or solving the movement problem. Every student, regardless of ability level, is important and contributes to group goals. (The above teaching tip is taken from Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children-19th Edition.)
Here are some lesson plans that involve cooperative skills:
Bob Pangrazi, PhD, taught for 31 years at Arizona State University in the department of exercise science and physical education and is now a professor emeritus. He is a best-selling author of numerous books and texts over the years, including multiple editions of Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children. This text is made even more practical in release of the 19th edition with the free interactive website Dynamic PE ASAP.