Reading Response: Zarrillo, Chapter 6


Zarrillo makes a tight case for cooperative learning in this chapter. He begins by making the case for why it should be utilized, supporting his argument with research and evidence. He describes different types of group projects and how to maneuver one’s class through a group project. He then presents a handful of strategies in making group work efficient and effective (STAD, Jigsaw, T-P-S, Three-Step Interview). Zarrillo talks about four main components that must be present for making group work a possibility within the classroom, discussing group goals, individual accountability, social skills, and effective planning. Zarrillo ends his “argument” for cooperative learning by mentioning other potential issues that could come up in utilizing group work as a strategy within the classroom and how to effectively turn these issues into positive situations.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

  • I loved Zarrillo’s distinction between learning structures and learning activities. I personally think both have their place, but establishing learning structures makes learning more efficient since students already know the procedure and they can focus their mental energy on comprehension rather than learning a new activity. Activities can be fun since they mix things up a bit, but they are often more work for a teacher.
  • Zarrillo’s list on page 154 about the different type of group projects is extremely helpful. Knowing the different types of group projects helps me be able to differentiate instruction in a way that allows me to integrate group work while still playing to the needs of each of my students.

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

How do you motivate a student who absolutely does not like group work (like myself)? I love collaborating with other people, but when it comes to actually completing an assignment, I want to be able to do it all myself. I’ve realized that this is a trust issue; I have a hard time trusting my other classmates to do their work to the same standard that I expect of myself, and I don’t want to put my grade at risk. I realize this may sound crazy, but it’s part of my type-A personality. I see both sides of group work: why it’s so valuable and why not everyone enjoys it. As a teacher, I’m definitely going to be using group work, but since I see the other side of it, I would have a hard time authentically motivating a student who may not particularly enjoy group work to engage in the group work. What would you do?


In many ways, as I described earlier, I have a love-hate relationship with cooperative learning. I love the collaboration, but I don’t enjoy sharing the tasks; there’s a disconnect somewhere, and I’m not sure how to “fix” it.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes

Chapter 6

  • Share your thoughts about chapter 6 with someone next to you
  • Reflect back to our first day of class
    • We read an article – “I used to think… now I think…”
    • Teaching Social Studies – Past and Future
    • How would you like your teaching of social studies to be different?
    • What do your lessons reflect?
      • The way you were taught?
        • My lessons are a reaction against how I was taught
      • The way you think is best to teach social studies?
        • Teach in an authentic and relevant way – backwards design is fantastic!
      • Will what you teach be applicable to their lives? Will students learn from the mistakes of the past?
        • Yes!!!

Integrated Learning (Marion Bradey; What’s Worth Teaching? – 1989)

  • “The undergraduate curriculum is a disaster area.” Ernest Boyer
    • I’ve seen the struggle it causes for students who came out of high school struggling. The transition from high school to college is similar to the drop off point between 3rd and 4th grade, and I’ve seen some pretty awful cases. :/
  • “It is a well-known scandal that our whole educational system is geared more to categorizing and analyzing patches of knowledge than to threading them together.” Harlan Cleveland
  • “We have lost sight of our responsibility for synthesizing learning.” Robert Stevens
  • “There is no longer any principle that unifies the school curriculum and furnishes it with meaning.” Neil Postman
    • BIG PICTURE!!! Why can’t more people see this? It’s true that teachers should have some say in what they teach and how they teach it, but ultimately, schools will fail if there is no overarching goal, theme, and unifying principle.
    • Possible Solution:
      • Authentic and realistic – teach subject matter, but insert the content into unconventional means of teaching it.
      • Listen to students
      • Broad Big ideas and essential questions
      • Have students solve real life problems in real life ways.
      • Student driven learning – Montessori, PBL – students find the standards to integrate into their own projects
  • “What students are asked to relate to in school is increasingly artificial, cut off from the human experiences subject matter is supposed to reflect.” John Goodlad

Two Arguments for

  • Increased complexity
    • Rapid changes
    • Acquisition of knowledge
  • Organized and coherent
    • More easily assimilated
    • Clear relationship between learning and experiences
  • Goal – Transfer of meaning, knowledge and skills

Student – Brain Research on Integration

  • Challenge
    • Problem Solving
    • Critical Thinking
    • Relevant Projects
    • Complex Activities
  • Feedback
    • Specific
    • Multi-Modal
    • Timely
    • Learner Controlled
  • Contributing Factors to Meaning-Making:
    • Emotion
    • Relevance
    • Context and Patterns

Class – Levels of Integration

  • Connected
    • Within each subject area
    • Topic to topic – one year to the next
  • Nested – pulling things through (writing across the curriculum)
    • Within each subject area
    • Writing across the curriculum
  • Sequenced
    • Topics or units are rearranged and sequenced to coincide with each other
    • English historical novel while History uses the same historical period
  • Shared
    • Shared planning and teaching
    • Overlapping concepts or ideas emerge as organizing elements
  • Webbed
    • Theme is webbed to curriculum content
  • Integrated – Interdisciplinary approach – Problem Based
    • Standards are covered from multiple subject areas


Class – What and How to Integrate

  • What:
    • Greatly reduce the standards – Power Standards
      • No more identify and describe!
    • Pursue knowledge and thinking skills together
    • Literacy as the spine
      • Backbone
      • Good quality books for accompanying
    • Intellectual Thinking Standards
      • Read to infer/interpret/draw conclusions
      • Support arguments with evidence
      • Resolve conflicting views encountered in source documents
      • Solve complex problems with no obvious answer
  • How:
    • Authentic Literacy
    • Guided Practice and Formative Assessment – Done well!

In School? – It depends…

  • Big ideas and Essential questions
  • Collaboration
  • Literacy as the Spine
    • Guided Practice
    • Independent Practice and Assessment
    • Whole class discussion and debate
    • Student writing with reference to the text

Questioning – a means

  • Socratic questioning: 
    • Seeks to get the other person to answer their own questions by making them think and drawing out the answer from them.
  • Concept Attainment The teacher takes a concept to be studied and prepares examples of what the concept is and is not. Examples are presented to students as yes or no items. Students must compare and contrast attributes of the items, hypothesize, and articulate the concept.
    • Identify the attributes of the concept
    • Come up with Yes or No examples that cross the curriculum
    • Put the Examples in the order you will ask them
    • Technology in the Social Studies Classroom

Primary Source Documents

Keeping up


  • Infusionomics
  • There are 9 basic Economic Principles woven into your everyday life.
    • We all make choices
      • Explain: can answer every economics questions with two words and always be right: It Depends
        • Teach scarcity: it forces us to choose
        • Not making a choice is itself a choice
        • Children need a framework for making choices that is best begun early
        • Maximize benefits, minimize costs: opportunity costs
          • Choosing one means you don’t get the other.
      • Integration:
        • DI
        • Shopping
        • Reading – choose your own story
        • Reading – analyze character choices
        • Modify an environment
        • History – analyze choices of historical leaders
        • Science – hypothesizing
    • TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!)
      • Explain: There is always a cost to something
        • Difference between cost and price
        • Opportunity Cost – the 2nd best choice
        • Costs are measured in many ways
          • Material
          • Monetary
          • Labor v. Foregone Leisure
          • Time
          • Morality
          • Security
      • Integration:
        • Social Studies: Freedom has a cost
        • Cost to following rules and not following rules
    • All choices have consequences
      • Explain:
        • Consequences lie in the future
        • Predictability (experience) improves decision-making
          • (Project an idea to its final conclusion)
        • Observe patterns to make predictions
        • Unpredictability leads to inconsistent decision-making
        • Application to sound decision
          • Identify the problem
          • Analyze alternative solutions – select the two best
          • Make a list of foreseeable positive and negative consequences
          • Select the best choice
      • Integration:
    • Economic systems influence choices
      • Explain:
        • Types
          • Command
          • Market
          • Traditional
        • Questions
          • What to produce?
          • How to produce it?
          • For whom to produce it?
      • Integration:
        • Science: things that available to use
        • Novels: talk about setting with economic system
    • Incentives produce “predictable” responses
      • Explain:
        • Monetary and non-monetary
        • That which is subsidized or rewarded will increase, and that which is taxed or penalized will decrease
        • To change behavior, change the incentive
        • Hindsight is 20/20
      • Integration
        • Behavior Chart
    • Do what you do best, trade for the rest
      • Explain
        • As long as the trade is voluntary, both parties are better off
        • Trying to produce everything yourself limits both production and consumption
        • Trade works best when there is
          • Honesty
          • Transparency
          • Expected gain for both parties
        • The gain for both parties does not need to be equal to be valuable
      • Integration
        • Group work!
    • Economic thinking is marginal thinking
      • Explain:
        • In thinking economically, economists coined the term “marginal” to describe the cost or benefit of attaining one more unit of something
        • Do the marginal benefits exceed marginal costs?
      • Integration
    • Quantity and quality of resources impact living standards
      • Explain
        • Four factors of production
          • Natural resources (land)
          • Human resources (labor)
          • Capital resources (equipment)
          • Entrepreneurial resources (risk, profit motive)
      • Integration
        • Talking about Communities
        • Family – resources available
    • Prices are determined by the market forces of supply and demand and are constantly changing.
      • Explain
        • Supply and Demand
        • LAW OF DEMAND


What new information did you learn?

Two things stood out to me, the wisdom regarding grading and evaluating group projects and the time we spent talking about economics, particularly the Edutopia video about the importance of teaching economics in urban settings at a young age.

How has the material/experience affected you?

  • Grading/Evaluating Group Projects: You answered my question in a way that revolutionizes group projects to being a collaborative group effort where students feel purpose rather than apprehension, anxiety, and apathy. Grading students individually rather than as a whole group allows students to still demonstrate their knowledge the subject at hand while showing off the beauty found within collaboration. If designed well, I believe it creates a safe and positive collaborative learning environment where students shouldn’t be afraid to share both their insights and their questions.
  • Economics: As I have stated in the past, I have very little background knowledge regarding economics. I didn’t even know what the nine economic principles were, much less that they even existed. The word ‘economics’ has always intimidated me, but now that it has been broken down into nine relatively simple principles, teaching economics doesn’t “scare” me as much. Watching the Edutopia video on early financial literacy was inspiring. It helped me see just how important it is to teach economics at an early age; it truly can make a big impact, especially in communities on the lower end of the socioeconomic pendulum.

Has it challenged your thinking?

I have been challenged to grow in my understanding of economics. I want to become proficient in its principles and ideas so I can best equip my students to not only become life-long learners, but also to becoming financially stable in a world run by impulse and immediate gratification.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods


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