SOS Top Ten for Promoting Cooperation, Collaboration, and Teamwork

Welcome to our special SOS Top Ten series. This month, we’re highlighting some of the most popular ways to use Spotlight on Strategies (CDN Version) instructional ideas to promote cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork.

It’s not surprising that soft skills such as cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork often appear in lists of traits that employers look for in new hires.

Working together is a necessary, but not always easy thing to do. Whether you’re working face-to-face or virtually, these skills will often make or break a project. The more practice students have while in school, the better they’ll get at working together to accomplish a goal.

This month, we highlight how the Spotlight on Strategies can help students learn to cooperate, collaborate and be an active team member in your classroom.


Andy Cripps suggests using SOS Get VENN-Y With It (CDN Version). He shared that although the directions say to use it while looking at photos, it works for helping students conduct independent research, too.

The students in his class used this strategy to learn about the Holocaust. They investigated different internment camps of their choosing and, working as partners, students created VENN diagrams to compare how the camps were similar and different. He had students share with the class a detail they learned from their partner, instead of asking for something they themselves learned.


Andy Cripps and Jessica Weimerskirch both suggest using SOS Table Top Texting (CDN Version) to encourage students to discuss information with one another.

Andy uses this strategy as students watch Discovery Education video segments, and he shared that students like having a chance to discuss what they’re watching by “texting” one another. Another benefit he’s found is that it provides a different modality for students who tend to be shy or don’t want to speak.

Jessica shared that she created a paper “phone” for her 4th Grade students to use as they watch short Discovery Education video segments. Her students watch first and then pause to text one another.


Melissa Murray’s favorite strategy to promote teamwork is SOS Paper Slide (CDN Version) because it encourages her students to collectively make decisions about what information to share, what the script should include, and what order to put the slides in.

She structures the activity to ensure that teams include all students in the creation of the finished product, and is careful to emphasize the importance of encouraging one another, especially those who are camera shy.


Try using the SOS Four Corners (CDN Version) strategy to encourage students to effectively communicate their and ideas. Label each of the four corners in your classroom with a specific stance or opinion about a thought-provoking statement. Students self-select the corner they most closely identify with and discuss with others who join them.


If you want students to practice taking turns while also listening carefully to what their partner is saying, SOS XO Let’s Go (CDN Version) is a strategy you should try. This paired verbal fluency strategy is fun and game-like, and the process helps students review material they’ve learned and practice interpersonal skills they’ll need into adult life.


Help students synthesize the most important facts about a topic with SOS 25 Things You Didn’t Know (CDN Version). Have students each gather 2-5 facts before forming small groups to negotiate which are the most important ones to include in a summary of the material.

Consider adjusting your expectations for how many facts each individual or each group is responsible for supplying to the final list, depending upon how large your class is or how much accountability you’re looking for.


Want to help students gain insight into a topic from various perspectives? SOS Get Your Thinking Hat On (CDN Version), which is based on Edward deBono’s Six Thinking Hats strategy, helps students to work together to systematically look at material through six different lenses.


Use SOS The Envelope Please (CDN Version) to offer students a structured opportunity to discuss facts and clues in order to make predictions about material they’ll be studying.


SOS Placemat (CDN Version) is a cooperative learning strategy that sparks active engagement from students. It provides space for both individual and group work, validates the contributions of all team members, and encourages individual group members to listen to and appreciate the thoughts and ideas of other team members.


SOS QFT (CDN Version) is one of the newest strategies in the SOS collection, and it capitalizes on the collective experiences and knowledge of a group to help students to generate questions to guide their research.


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