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Now's Co-operative Newsletter
7 December 1999, #2

Hello again!

Here are three self introductions followed by some comments and questions from Tate Yamashita. My replies are in italics. Finally there are some more links provided by Sally Olsen. Thanks Sally!

I'm still uncertain how this newsletter will take shape - I'm going to let it grow and see what happens. Any suggestions are welcome.


By the way, this time I've used rich text format. If anybody has any problems viewing this letter please let me know.

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Name:< Sally Olsen

Location: Canada for the moment

Students taught: I'm the student at Carleton University in the Masters program for Applied Languages


In 1974, I met a young professor of Kinathropology from the University of Ottawa, Terry Orlick. He had come to my sons' nursery school to play games with them. They were games that you play together, not against each other. The challenge was still there but was not one of personal competition but of working together to overcome an outside obstacle. They were called Co-operative Games. The ideas behind these games intrigued me and I began to give workshops for other nursery schools and co-operative organisations. Then when Terry asked me to attend a conference of the International Association for the Study of Co-operation in Education (IASCE) in Provo, Utah in the summer of 1982, I bundled up my family and was off. There I met many like-minded people who were interested in education. It was a turning point in my teaching career. So for almost 18 years I have been encouraging teachers to work with groups in what is called Co-operative Learning.

I taught in Japan for one year and France for two.


This year while attending classes at the Masters level of Applied Languages at Carleton University , I discovered that a fellow student hadn't had a similar positive experiences in groups. That peaked my interest. Further, there were a number of reported difficulties in papers and books that we were reading and some of the students in the adult ESL classes that we are observing are downright antagonistic to the group work. Many of the foreign teachers in my classes ar e saying that it won't work in an EFL situation and they might even lose their jobs if the use such classroom structures. I am trying to write an essay that might address their concerns, so any help from teachers in the EFL situation would be great. Do you think using groups is a Western notion that can't travel like American skiis don't work on Japanese snow?


I like to make animal balloons. I found a wonderful book in Korea and can even make a Ninja turtle. I have a husband (Research Scientist) and two sons (musicians, one jazz and one plays junk to encourage people to reduce, reuse, recycle. His band is called Junkyard Symphony,) and one daughter-in-law (works on Bay St. in Toronto).

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Name: Tate Yamashita

Location: Kyoto

Students taught: kindergarten (2), elementary school (1), private groups (elemen. - high school)


I've had experience with students from adult to 3 yrs, both large and small groups. Co-operative games I became actively interested in finding non-competitive games after I witnessed the loser at the end of an intense game of musical chairs burst into tears. Sally Olsen's presentation on co-operative games was helpful for me, but I still feel like I'm getting the hang of it and would like to know much more. (I did, by the way, find a co-operative musical chairs where the only way to lose is when everybody isn't sitting one way or another after a chair is removed. I still can't believe I saw 10 children triumphantly sitting on one chair at the end of a game.)


I am currently interested in how games can be used to practice new material as opposed to review material. I've found that a simple substitution drill disguised in a good song with movement and pictures goes over well with young children and gives them an enjoyable way to practice something over and over. But, I would like to find other ways that work for older kids and also different types of learners. It may be just my own weakness as a teacher, but even the most inventive drills still feel like drills to me and not that much fun.


I love singing and happy endings (Just once I'd like the Gingerbread Man to escape the crocodile and run on to live another day/Just once I'd like the Little Red Hen to lighten up and share her bread with everyone.) I have 3 cats ,5frogs, and a butterfly and two of my most re-readable books are The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet.

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Hi! Thank you for your message. Let me introduce myself.

Name: Mihaela Diaconescu


Shinshu University, Matsumoto City, where I "がんばっています" now, to write my Master's Thesis in Linguistics, mainly working on prepositions/ particles.


I have been teaching to students of all ages, large and small groups. I think a small group is ideal for teaching/learning English.


I would like to use more games and music in my hopes, classes, to create an atmosphere where students desires... can enjoy learning. As a Christian, I'm really happy to share with others Christian music or literature. I think they are a great source of learning for those who are open to this area. Recent interest: teaching English to blind people. That's why I'm also interested to study Braille.

And...I don't have any penguins; yet, I guess it would be nice to have one.

Have a nice day ! Mihaela

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Hi Chris,

On the Game Design Sheet in your first mailing, I had a few questions on the mechanics of the example you gave if I was actually going to try it out, but I agree wholeheartedly with the point that there has to be both a game challenge and a language target and they need to be well-integrated for a good game.

Below are a couple of classic (in this case Christmas) games for children. How could they be modified so they are co-operative instead of competitive?

Thank you for including me in this discussion of co-operative learning!


Christmas Buzz

Students stand in a circle and set up a rhythm by clapping and snapping their fingers - "clap-clap, snap-snap". On the third "clap-clap", the first student must say a Christmas word (eg. wreath). This process is repeated around the circle, each student saying a Christmas word on the third beat. Students who can't say a word on the 3rd beat are out.

Have two games going at the same time - children knocked out of one join another (this is a standard idea to make knockout games less competitive).

Keep a record of the number of words said and just keep trying to beat the record. If a child can't think of a word start counting again. Set a target and see if the children can reach that target.

Preteach the word "oops!" When a child says a Christmas word the child runs to the centre of the circle and sits down. If a child can't think of a word the child says "oops!" runs to the centre and brings back one child. Keep count of how many children get into the centre. Can all the children end up sitting down? (It might be possible if you allow plurals and adjectives to be used).

Snowshoe Race

Put pictures of Christmas words in 3 different colored boxes. The class is divided into 2 teams. At the go signal, players put on their snowshoes (men's size shoe boxes) and shuffle to the line of colored boxes. Remaining team members shout "What's in the red box?" as the players pass by a box. The players (in snowshoes) pick a card from the red box and answer, "There's a wreath." Then they shuffle to the turn-around line and return to the starting line and pass the shoes to the next players, and so on.

This sounds so much fun I doubt you really have to have it as a race. It could be done against a timer.

Get a jigsaw with about 20-40 pieces. It's possible to make one by sticking a Christmas scene to some card and cutting it up. Play the game as described but allow a player with snowshoes to collect a piece of jigsaw on the way back. The object becomes to complete the jigsaw in a set time. Have three or four sets of snowshoes depending upon the number of children. It's possible to have more than one jigsaw for older children. Everybody wins when all the jigsaws have been completed.

Have two sets of flashcards and boxes. Put several cards in each box. Give the second set to the players. The objective is for the players to match the contents of each box. Use a time limit.

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Links: (My comments in italics)

Links to some example of physical games
Wellness Education Health The Health Show Cooperative Games Recreational...

A link to lots of links, including specific games
Recreation Internet Resources - various links: Leading Games, More Games, Cooperative Games Tool Box... www.ac.wwu.edu/~wwurec/RESO.html

Another link to lots of links...
Networking Games
...Kyoto, Japan) Workshop on Cooperative Games (June 18 - 20, 1996 --...
...Networking Games "Networking games? Game Eng. isn't work!"...

Specifically about game design - the writer has a dim view of co-operative games
Eugene Pervago Page - Game Design
...icky games. They're so competitive. Why can't we have cooperative...
...appeal. The desire for "cooperative games" is the desire for an...

Lots of stuff about games - some of them co-operative!
Tane and Sam's (mostly board) games page-in-progress
...buy interesting games "Cooperative" games Other...
...Workshop Word Rescue "Cooperative" games I put...

For the record:

Two of Sally's links survive, three are lost - much better than none at all. Despite my mentioning I was using rich text originally there was little formatting. There's a bit more now.

last updated: 4th August 2005

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