Cooperative learning facilitates the active participation of students, improves their academic performance, helps accommodate diversity and creates an optimal emotional environment encouraging trust, friendship, companionship, etc.
At the Institució Familiar d'Educació schools we have been applying this methodology for years. Cooperative learning was first launched under the programme Cooperate to learn, learn to cooperate, led by Dr. Pere Pujolàs. It has since grown in scope and improved as a result of different people's contributions. David and Roger Johnson, two of the main experts in cooperative learning, are currently advising us in this area.
Thinking-based learning is a method based on teaching thinking skills as part of standard curricular content. According to this method, thinking, collaboration and communication are the main skills required for the 21st century.
Robert Swartz, director of the Center for Teaching Thinking (CTT) in Boston, USA, was the creator of this innovative methodology, which is applied in prestigious centres around the world.
This kind of methodology sparks the students' interest and encourages them to get involved. Learning activities are connected with the real world to help students get a better understanding of the content. Ultimately, our schools should be dream schools where all students enjoy the pleasure of learning.
To helps us in this area we receive support from Richard Gerver, one of the world's leading experts in educational innovation, and Alfredo Hernando, an educator and expert researcher in innovation.
Evaluating is much more than using a numerical value to determine the progress made by a student, it is an essential element for learning, since students who see their progress and know how to adapt to it are better prepared to advance and continue learning.
Strategies must therefore be found whereby students can share in and be involved in the evaluation process and be the protagonists of their own learning. The evaluation criteria applied in assessing school subjects and activities should also be coherent and shared with the rest of the teaching staff and the family.
Neus Sanmartí, doctor in Chemistry at the University of Barcelona, is training the Institute's teaching staff in how to use evaluation to make a real change to education.
The creativity and entrepreneurship programme is being implemented at the Institute's schools through various projects designed to promote an entrepreneurial spirit and creative thinking. These projects often depart from the curriculum and are designed to prepare students to take decisions and resolve problems and conflicts. The activities employed aim to apply various methodologies, such as multiple intelligences, basic skills, cooperative learning and thinking skills, etc.
One of the techniques used is called "Six thinking hats" and was developed by Edward de Bono. It consists of imagining that each person has six hats. Each hat is a way of thinking that complements the others. De Bono proposed a method of thinking that does not follow the criteria of conventional logic and is based on alternatives, on the investigation of possibilities and the development of creativity.