Issue 29
Learning CAN be fun. Training SHOULD be fun. Training Games ARE fun!
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In this Newsletter...

Cooperative Learning (Peer Tutoring)
What is it? Cooperative learning is a simple idea. Learning is enhanced through social interaction. Cooperative learning might be defined as a teaching or training strategy in which peers within teams take responsibility for each others learning experience. In other words, unlike our typical educative experience, I am not only responsible for my own learning, but that of my peers and teammates.

There is also an idea, quite similar (if not identical) in concept to cooperative learning called peer tutoring or peer mentoring. Here individuals in a classroom pair up to help one another.

Both strategies are great ideas, and for lots of reasons. First of all it doesn't cost anything. Peers help to assist each other to learn. Each can borrow on the other's knowledge and expertise. It's okay to turn to my partner and say "I didn't quite understand that, did he/she mean ?" We learn when we can ask questions but how often in a classroom situation have you held your questions because you were embarrassed to ask, or you didn't want to be disruptive. Peers can provide more immediate feedback, someone to bounce thoughts off of. Peers can offer support and encouragement, may help to lower stress levels and add to a more positive learning environment.

Here are some studies supporting the idea of peer tutoring taken from a PDF by the Center for Effective Collaborative and Practice :

Studies done in the 1980s showed that Classwide Peer Tutoring helps students learn better and more quickly. Researchers Debra Whorton and Joseph Delquadri did a study that looked at reading. They found that students who read only 24 words correctly were able to read 48 words correctly after their teachers started using Classwide Peer Tutoring. Joseph Delquadri and other researchers did another important reading study. They found that students with learning disabilities read more quickly and correctly after their teacher started using using Classwide Peer Tutoring.

Joseph Delquadri and a team of researchers also studied whether Peer Tutoring helps students in spelling. They found that students who scored the lowest on weekly spelling tests (getting 8 or more words wrong), started scoring as well as other students in the class (getting fewer than 3 words wrong) after their teacher started using Peer Tutoring.

A study by John Fantuzzo and Lauren Heller found that Peer Tutoring helped African American 4th and 5th grade students in math. Most of the students in this study came from homes with low incomes.

Other studies in the 1980s and 1990s showed that cooperative learning technique increased the amount of class work that students finish. In one study by Charles Maher, students who did not have Peer Tutoring finished only 3 of their 10 assignments. But when their teachers started using Peer Tutoring, they finished 8 of their 10 assignments.

In their research, George DuPaul and Patricia Henningson showed that Classwide Peer Tutoring helps students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder pay attention longer and stay in their seats to finish assignments.

Researchers Judith Presley and Carolyn Hughes used peer tutoring to teach social skills and anger control to high school students with emotional and behavioral problems. During the time the students were learning social skills through peer tutoring, they showed less intense anger in situations that happened during the rest of the school day. Catherine Trapani and Maribeth Gettinger also had success with using peer tutoring to teach social skills to 4th through 6th grade boys with learning disabilities.

Here are 9 different approaches for cooperative learning in classrooms. These are found on the Kennesaw Universities website ( at (Author credits are listed below).

1. Jigsaw - Groups with five students are set up. Each group member is assigned some unique material to learn and then to teach to his group members. To help in the learning students across the class working on the same sub-section get together to decide what is important and how to teach it. After practice in these "expert" groups the original groups reform and students teach each other. Tests or assessment follows.

2. Think-Pair-Share - Involves a three step cooperative structure. During the first step individuals think silently about a question posed by the instructor. Individuals pair up during the second step and exchange thoughts. In the third step, the pairs share their responses with other pairs, other teams, or the entire group.

3. Three-Step Interview (Kagan) - Each member of a team chooses another member to be a partner. During the first step individuals interview their partners by asking clarifying questions. During the second step partners reverse the roles. For the final step, members share their partner's response with the team.

4. Round Robin Brainstorming (Kagan)- Class is divided into small groups (4 to 6) with one person appointed as the recorder. A question is posed with many answers and students are given time to think about answers. After the "think time," members of the team share responses with one another round robin style. The recorder writes down the answers of the group members. The person next to the recorder starts and each person in the group in order give an answer until time is called.

5. Three-Minute Review - Teachers stop any time during a lecture or discussion and give teams three minutes to review what has been said, ask clarifying questions or answer questions.

6. Numbered Heads Together (Kagan) - A team of four is established. Each member is given numbers of 1, 2, 3, 4. Questions are asked of the group. Groups work together to answer the question so that all can verbally answer the question. Teacher calls out a number (two) and each two is asked to give the answer.

7. Team Pair Solo (Kagan)- Students do problems first as a team, then with a partner, and finally on their own. It is designed to motivate students to tackle and succeed at problems which initially are beyond their ability. It is based on a simple notion of mediated learning. Students can do more things with help (mediation) than they can do alone. By allowing them to work on problems they could not do alone, first as a team and then with a partner, they progress to a point they can do alone that which at first they could do only with help.

8. Circle the Sage (Kagan)- First the teacher polls the class to see which students have a special knowledge to share. For example the teacher may ask who in the class was able to solve a difficult math homework question, who had visited Mexico, who knows the chemical reactions involved in how salting the streets help dissipate snow. Those students (the sages) stand and spread out in the room. The teacher then has the rest of the classmates each surround a sage, with no two members of the same team going to the same sage. The sage explains what they know while the classmates listen, ask questions, and take notes. All students then return to their teams. Each in turn, explains what they learned. Because each one has gone to a different sage, they compare notes. If there is disagreement, they stand up as a team. Finally, the disagreements are aired and resolved.

9. Partners (Kagan) - The class is divided into teams of four. Partners move to one side of the room. Half of each team is given an assignment to master to be able to teach the other half. Partners work to learn and can consult with other partners working on the same material. Teams go back together with each set of partners teaching the other set. Partners quiz and tutor teammates. Team reviews how well they learned and taught and how they might improve the process.

Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning. Five essential components must be present for small-group learning to be truly cooperative (Johnson, Johnson, and Smith):

1) Clear positive interdependence between students
2) Face to face interaction
3) Individual accountability
4) Emphasize interpersonal and small-group skills
5) Processes must be in place for group review to improve effectiveness

And finally from 12 Brain/Mind Learning Principles in Action "The brain/mind is social, (this principle) tells us that every student has the capacity to learn through relationship with others. It supports cooperative learning, peer coaching, and having students share their work and ideas with others.

Ultimately the brain needs to own the learning by having the learner do something with what has been learned. This means that students need to be given the opportunity and at times be required to use the information to answer personally relevant questions and to act in practical ways to solve problems and make things happen in relatively realistic contexts.


David and Roger Johnson. "Cooperative Learning." [Online] 15 October 2001.

David and Roger Johnson. "An Overview of Cooperative Learning." [Online] 15 October 2001.

Howard Community College's Teaching Resources. "Ideas on Cooperative Learning and the use of Small Groups." [Online] 15 October 2001.

Kagan, S. Kagan Structures for Emotional Intelligence. Kagan Online Magazine. 2001, 4(4).

Johnson, D. W., R. T. Johnson, and K. Smith, Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom, Interaction Book Company, Edina, MN, 1991.

Renate Nummela Caine, Geoffrey Caine, Carol Lynn McClintic, Karl J. Klimek. 12 Brain/Mind Learning Principles in Action: The Fieldbook for Making Connections, Teaching, and the Human Brain. (Corwin Press, 2004).

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Products From TGI
Contact [email protected] or call 602-750-7223

NEW TGI Board Games
Everybody loves a good board game and we have 2 new ones, 123 Board Game and Dare Board Game. Both games present your training questions while you roll the dice and move your game pieces around the board. And both start at just $59.99 for a Single User Lifetime License.

In addition you can get both of these great games in a Combo Pack starting at just $99.99. For more information or to purchase:

123 Board Game | Dare Board Game | Combo Pack

Free Icebreaker Game

We've included a free TGI PowerPoint or Excel based Ice Breaker Game in this newsletter and promise to send you a free game with each and every issue! These games are great fun, and will make your meetings, presentations and training sessions more interactive and engaging. The download link is only active in newsletters sent out to TGI subscribers.

Famous Quotes
"It is as if educators have to learn to dance at the same time that they are also being told to march in step. In the process many of them have been robbed of their joy in teaching, which is fueled by laughter, creativity, and confidence."

"Several people have asked us to spell out what we see as the most important changes for education. For us, the answer is clear. We must understand how human beings learn and place that understanding at the very center of teaching."

Renate Nummela Caine, Geoffrey Caine, Carol Lynn McClintic, Karl J. Klimek. 12 Brain/Mind Learning Principles in Action: The Fieldbook for Making Connections, Teaching, and the Human Brain. (Corwin Press, 2004).

Featurette #2 - The Buzzer Option
This month let's talk about the Buzzer option. There are three different ways to determine the playing order in a typical game:

1. You can play sequentially where everyone gets a turn in order. This is a good way to make sure that everyone gets an equal opportunity to answer the questions.

2. You can play randomly where the computer or some other device selects who gets to answer a question. This adds suspense to the game but can be unfair to some players/teams.

3. Or you can use a Buzzer or Fast Response system. A player is selected by their ability to read and know the answer to a question AND buzz in before anyone else.

Some of the most popular game shows use a buzzer system. Many of our TGI training games have the ability built-in to use a USB buzzer system. We feature on our website a great USB buzzer system. But, you don't need this hardware to use fast response. The advantage of a buzzer system is that it clearly lets everyone know who "buzzed in" first. There are also several stand alone buzzer systems that can be used with our games. These are separate buzzers that are normally battery or electrically powered systems that make a noise, light up or both when activated. A low tech approach can be to give a special card to each team or player and have them raise it when they know the answer. And, of course, the easiest system of all; raise your hands (watch out for the follow up arguing as to who raised their hands first).

A short tutorial of a USB buzzer system is called for. When connected to your computer, a USB buzzer system usually has from 2 to 9 "buzzer" buttons or pads. Each of these pads generates a single keystroke when pressed. Most all of them generate the numbers 1 to 9. Each button/pad generates a different number. When activated, you can buzz in OR just press the 1 through 9 keys on your computer to test. These systems have an exclusion feature in the hardware that only lets the first keystroke through to the computer.

Many of our games give you the option of using the sequential or buzzer method for playing our games. There are advantages to both. If you use the same game with the same people, you might want to consider alternating how the game is played. My personal favorite way to use a buzzer system is with the Presentation Game 4. Whatever my material is, when I go to certain slides, I automatically activate the buzzer system. This can be to answer a question, ask a question or some other way I can think of to get the group involved. At TGI, as we create new games, we will always incorporate a "Buzzer" option when it makes sense to the game. That's it for this month.

Visit our Website at
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TGI Sells Buzzer System
For many years now our customers have been telling us that we should provide "Buzzer" or "Quick Response" capability for our Quiz Show and other games. Many trainers and teachers like games that require teams to "buzz in" their answer to quiz questions (The game informs you who got in first!). We now provide 4 games (Quiz Show XF, Classroom Quiz Show XF, The DEAL? Game, and The PowerPoint Presentation Game 4.0), that integrate with a USB Wireless Buzzer System. In fact we've researched available systems and now sell one of the premiere buzzer, or slammer systems on the our website ( We've made available Wireless Slammer products for two, five and eight teams to play. Here are some of the features offered with these wireless slammers:

 • Patented RF-Wireless design
 • Keypads use radio frequency with no line-of-sight limitations
 • Keypads have a range of up to 100 feet
 • Keypads have low battery and transmit indication
 • Sleep mode to preserve battery life
 • FCC approved units, no Site approval needed
 • Plastic carrying briefcase included

Make your training more fun with buzzers today!

Brain Facts
Weight of the adult human brain 3 pounds on average
Brain's percent of adult human body weight 2 percent
Total # neurons in the adult human brain 100 billion
Number of synaptic connections per neuron 10,000
Neurons in octopus brain = 300 million
Neurons in honey bee brain = 950,000
Average number of glial (Support neurons in the brain) cells in brain = 10-50 times the number of neurons
Number of neocortical neurons (females) = 19.3 billion
Number of neocortical neurons (males) = 22.8 billion
Average loss of neocortical neurons = 85,000 per day
Whole Brain (%) Water 78%, Lipids 12%, Protein 8 %
Rate of neuron growth (early pregnancy) = 250,000 neurons/minute

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