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Numbered Heads Together Cooperative Learning

Strategy
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What Is It?
Numbered Heads Together is a cooperative learning strategy that holds each student
accountable for learning the material. Students are placed in groups and each person is
given a number (from one to the maximum number in each group). The teacher poses a
question and students "put their heads together" to figure out the answer. The teacher
calls a specific number to respond as spokesperson for the group. By having students
work together in a group, this strategy ensures that each member knows the answer to
problems or questions asked by the teacher. Because no one knows which number will
be called, all team members must be prepared.

Why Is It Important?
This cooperative learning strategy promotes discussion and both individual and group
accountability. This strategy is beneficial for reviewing and integrating subject matter.
Students with special needs often benefit when this strategy is used. After direct
instruction of the material, the group supports each member and provides opportunities
for practice, rehearsal, and discussion of content material.
Group learning methods encourage students to take greater responsibility for their own
learning and to learn from one another, as well as from the instructor (Terenzini &
Pascarella, 1994).
Cooperative learning has been shown to increase student achievement, race relations,
acceptance of special needs students, andself-esteem (Slavin, 1995).

How Can You Make It Happen?


1. Divide the students into groups of four and give each one a number from one to
four.
2. Pose a question or a problem to the class.
3. Have students gather to think about the question and to make sure everyone in
their group understands and can give an answer.
4. Ask the question and call out a number randomly.

5. The students with that number raise their hands, and when called on, the student
answers for his or her team.

How Can You Stretch Students' Thinking?


This is a flexible strategy that can be used at a variety of levels. The teacher may start
with factual information questions, and as students become more familiar with the
strategy, ask questions that require analysis or synthesis of information. Student groups
can be given statements such as, "School uniforms help to keep students focused on
academics." Students' task is to come to consensus on whether they agree or disagree,
giving an explanation of their reasoning.
After the students respond, have the other groups agree or disagree with the answer by
showing a thumbs up or thumbs down, and then explain their reasoning. Or, if the
answer needs clarifying, ask another student to expand on the answer.
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When Can You Use It?


Reading/English
Comprehension questions can be posed to groups, and students can work together to
find the answers. For example, when reading a story, students can be given the task of
analyzing one of the characters. They can be asked questions such as, "Which
character traits are stated directly, and which are implied by the author?" and "What
information do you get from the character's speech and actions?"
Writing
Students can evaluate the quality of a piece of writing using a rubric. Have students
review the writing as a group and assign scores as a group. Ask them to respond with
their scores and rationale using the numbered heads together strategy.
Math
Numbered heads together can be used when solving math problems. Ask questions
such as "What are the facts in this problem?" "Which strategy would be most
appropriate?" and "What solution did your group agree on?"
Social Studies

This strategy can be used after reading a chapter in a text, or after material has been
presented. Ask clarifying questions about the text and have students find and discuss
the answers. When groups are ready, review the answers using this strategy.
Science
This strategy can be used in preparation for a test or quiz. Allow time for students to
study together in their groups and perhaps create questions that might be on the test or
quiz. Using the numbered heads together strategy, ask questions about the material
that will be on the test or quiz