Cooperative Learning with Placemat Consensus!

Teachers always have lots of reasons to get that pain in the pit of our stomachs…  Testing season, report card deadlines, group work…  Oh GROUP WORK!  Can you hear the tattling now!?  Working together in groups can be the most rewarding experiences in many lessons but also can be some of the most challenging.  There are so many personalities to consider and so many ‘forest fires’ to prevent before the lesson even begins!  So is it worth it!?  Absolutely!!

My biggest piece of advice for any teacher asking about group work:  Accountability!  Make sure in some way each and every student is being held accountable for the work he or she has been given.  This way not just one-two students are doing the work, all voices are being heard, and no one is wasting time! (hopefully!!)  If you love this idea and are searching for more amazing cooperative learning ideas, definitely check out my Engagement Strategy Cards on TpT! And make sure to read to the end to grab an amazing freebie!

Using a placemat consensus can be a very easy way to do just that!  Haven’t heard of them?  No biggie!  They are very easy to use and to make.  Picture this:  A square or circle in the middle of a large piece of paper with lines coming out of the middle sectioning the paper into a certain number of sections (one for each student).  So if you have groups of four, you’ll want four lines to create those sections, and so on.  Here are just some google images I found online of basic placemat consensuses.

Nothing to them right!?  The power is what you DO with them.  There are SO many ways to use a placemat consensus in all subject areas, their possibilities are truly endless!  Here’s how they work:
Using a Placemat Consensus
     Placemat consensus’s are used to help guide students to a common understanding.  Formally, they are used by the teacher presenting a question and each child solving or writing their answer in their section of the placemat.  Then together they compare and discuss each answer and formulate what they think would be the best answer taking someone from everyone’s original answer.  
Here are some other fun ways to use a placemat consensus: (freebie at the end!)

  1. Place a math word problem in the middle and have each student solve – compare and vote on the winning answer.
  2. Giving each student a section of a book/text to read, write a quick summary of their section and then together write an overall summary of the book/text.
  3.  Place a story/short text in the middle along with questions at the bottom.  Assign each student with a question, have them answer and then share.
  4. Place a dollar/coin amount in the middle and have the students use coins or draw coins to make different amounts of the same total – CHALLENGE – have one person go at a time and no one can repeat the answers before them!
  5. Write a number in the middle and have each person given an operation and create an equation where the number in the middle is the answer.  (ex:  30     15+ 15, 10 x 3, 30/1, 50 – 20)
  6. Place a short text and give each person a part of speech to search for:  have them record as many as they could find and then share out and discuss.  
  7. **Pictured Below**  Place a short text in the middle and give each student a specific concept to analyze and answer.  Have multiple texts to allow the students to rotate throughout the lesson so each child gets to use each section of the placemat consensus.                                          



It’s so important that when students are participating that they all have the chance to have their voice heard.  100% participation is required!  If we aren’t, as teachers, being intentional about planning for ways to make this happen for our students then we are doing them a disservice.  Interested in getting

a few more ideas on how to get all of your students completely involved in your lessons and upping your engagement?  Check out these amazing Engagement Cards!  Over 60 perfect ideas for any subject or grade level.  Definitely check them out!  Here’s what one buyer had to say about these cards:

I have loved trying each of these. My goal for this year was active engagement and these have been career changing!”


I LOVE this product! It is so fun to have all these different ideas together in one place. As an instructional coach, I use this by picking one engagement strategy at a time to teach to my teachers. They love having new ideas, and I love that they are right there at my fingertips.”

If you have other ideas on how to use a placemat consensus, I’d love to hear all about it!  I’m always looking for ways to continue to incorporate this amazing quality tool!
If you’d like to get started, you can download my differentiated nonfiction cards I use (pictured above) HERE for free!



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I’m a wife, a mommy of 3, blogger, and a full time teacher author and presenter. I love to read, shop, and spend time with my family! My hands are always busy, but my heart is so full!

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