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Teacher's Role as Coach

Teachers who make extensive use of cooperative learning and project-based work develop skills as intellectual "coaches" and undertake a new role as the activity designer and facilitator rather than the chief "doer" or center of attention. Their role is by no means a passive one, however (Means & Olson, 1994).

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Teacher, Cliff Gilkey guiding
students interviewing each other

In our observations of the Multicultural Heroes project, for example, the teacher initially worked with a group of students reviewing the videotape of an early interview. Encouraging students to reflect on the adequacy of the questions they had asked, he got them to think about their interview from the perspective of what an audience would want to know (e.g., "She said that she dropped out of school. What more would someone want to know about that?" ) Next, the teacher moved to a group practicing their interviewing technique using each other as mock subjects and supported their role play, helping them learn how to serve as helpful critics for each others' performance. Intermittently, he helped students with their use of the computer for transcribing key portions of completed interviews.

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