Cooperative Learning Strategy: Showdown

The Showdown cooperative learning strategy is a GREAT way to get students actively involved in content practice with very little prep from you!

About Showdown

The cooperative  learning strategy showdown is a great team strategy for reviewing content that your students already know. It is best when used with content rich task cards, even if they require a little bit of work to prepare the answer. Showdown works best when teams are made up of heterogeneous groups of students that can scaffold for one another and explain their thinking.


  • Each team of students will need their own set of task cards or problems to complete. 
    •  I have also chosen to use the projector to show one problem at a time and have teams solve, but this takes away the ability for each team to work at their own pace. 
  • Each student will need a place to work out their answer. I prefer to use whiteboards, but pencil and paper will also work. 

How to Use the Cooperative Learning Strategy Showdown

  1. Students are placed in groups of four.
  2. Each group of students is given a set of task cards placed face down in the center of their workspace. 
  3. A student is chosen to pick the first card and read it aloud to the group they are the team captain for this round.
    • The teacher chooses which student goes first. I will usually choose this student based on their seat at the table, whoever is tallest/shortest, or whoever's birthday is closest. It does not matter who starts, because the role of team captain rotates to all students. 
  4. Students each find the answer to the question independently in their own workspace. During this time they will not share their thoughts or answers. 
  5. When everyone is finished working the problem they show the team captain they are done.
    • The Showdown cooperative learning strategy is a GREAT way to get students actively involved in content practice with very little prep from you!
    • I have students turn over their whiteboards to signal they are done. This nonverbal signal is clear, but doesn't cause a lot of commotion. 
  6. The team captain calls, "Showdown."
  7. Students show and share their answers with one another.
  8. If all teammates agree on the answer they erase their boards and move on. If even one of the team members disagrees then they must discuss their answers and come to a consensus on the right answer. 
  9. The process is repeated with the role of team captain rotating in a clockwise fashion. 

When to Use Showdown

Showdown is best used as a cooperative learning strategy when students are reviewing a concept that has already been taught. It is ideal for test prep or any other kind of review. 

Showdown is NOT a strategy for directly teaching material. 

What is the Teacher's Role in Showdown?

While your students are busy with their roles in showdown you might be wondering what you are doing as the teacher. The great thing about cooperative learning activities are that they free up the teacher to move around the room. This allows you to listen in on conversations, help out a team that is struggled, or informally assess students learning as they complete their task.

Are you looking for more information on cooperative learning strategies? Check out The Ultimate Cooperative Learning Strategies Guide

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1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great assessment activity. It can be so difficult finding new ways to keep them interested!

    Great post. :)


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