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Today emphasis has been placed on collaboration as it applies to education. Research reveals that cooperative learning, depending on how it is carried out, can increase achievement as well as social skills (Slavin, 1983, p. 443). In addition, collaborative skills in and of themselves are necessary in many vocations. However, according to Johnson et al (1986), "children and adolescents are not born instinctively knowing how to collaborate with others" (p. 73). Learning collaborative skills is an important prerequisite for academic learning, and achievement improves as students become more effective in working with each other (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1986, p. 74).

Working together to achieve a common goal is certainly not a new concept; people have been doing so for centuries. One example of cooperation is a quilting bee, especially common in nineteenth century America. A group of people, usually women, would gather to socialize and quilt. What better symbol of cooperation than a patchwork quilt or the related art form of a mosaic? Each join many pieces together to make a whole.

The theme of the following unit, "What is My Role in the Group?" will serve to unify a variety of lessons designed to teach language skills and collaborative skills. The quilt and/or mosaic image will appear in some of the materials as well as in the final four weeks of group work. Since cooperation can be used as a means to other learning throughout the year, this unit would be most appropriate at the beginning of the school year.

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©1990 by the Board of Student Publications, University of Northern Iowa



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