K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Numbered heads together1 is a cooperative strategy that offers an alternative to the competitive approach of whole-class question-answer, in which the teacher asks a question and then calls on one of the students with a raised hand. In the numbered heads together approach, the teacher has students number off (e.g. 1-4), asks a question, and then tells the students to “put their heads together” to develop a complete answer to the question. When the teacher calls out a number, the students with that number raise their hands to respond. This structure facilitates positive interdependence, while promoting individual accountability. It also gives confidence to lower achievers because they know they will have the correct answer to give to the class.