The Big Brain: A Cooperative Learning Protocol

Grade 7 / Math / Collaboration
CCSS: Math.Practice.MP3 Math.Practice.MP6

Common Core State Standards




Mathematical Practice Standards


Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

Mathematically proficient students understand and use stated assumptions, definitions, and previously established results in constructing arguments. They make conjectures and build a logical progression of statements to explore the truth of their conjectures. They are able to analyze situations by breaking them into cases, and can recognize and use counterexamples. They justify their conclusions, communicate them to others, and respond to the arguments of others. They reason inductively about data, making plausible arguments that take into account the context from which the data arose. Mathematically proficient students are also able to compare the effectiveness of two plausible arguments, distinguish correct logic or reasoning from that which is flawed, and--if there is a flaw in an argument--explain what it is. Elementary students can construct arguments using concrete referents such as objects, drawings, diagrams, and actions. Such arguments can make sense and be correct, even though they are not generalized or made formal until later grades. Later, students learn to determine domains to which an argument applies. Students at all grades can listen or read the arguments of others, decide whether they make sense, and ask useful questions to clarify or improve the arguments.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Common Core State Standards




Mathematical Practice Standards


Attend to precision.

Mathematically proficient students try to communicate precisely to others. They try to use clear definitions in discussion with others and in their own reasoning. They state the meaning of the symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately. They are careful about specifying units of measure, and labeling axes to clarify the correspondence with quantities in a problem. They calculate accurately and efficiently, express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context. In the elementary grades, students give carefully formulated explanations to each other. By the time they reach high school they have learned to examine claims and make explicit use of definitions.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

           In Partnership with


8 minutes


Use a small group cooperative learning protocol in a math investigation

Questions to Consider

  • How does the Big Brain Protocol encourage cooperative learning?
  • How would you describe the students' role in this classroom?
  • How would you describe the teacher's role?

Common Core Standards

Math.Practice.MP3, Math.Practice.MP6

See the full playlist of the Active and Exploratory Instruction videos in this series

Success at the Core offers leadership teams and teachers concrete tools to improve classroom instruction and inspire higher student achievement.

Supporting Materials

  • Please sign in or sign up to download Supporting Materials
  • Instructional Plan.PDF

  • CMP Problem 3.1 and Student Work.PDF

  • Role Cards Template.PDF

  • Teacher Commentary.PDF

Add This to My Workspace in Lesson Planner



This Has Been Scheduled in Your Lesson Planner



This Has Been Saved in Your Lesson Planner



Saved in Your Lesson Planner



Scheduled in Your Lesson Planner



License This Tch Video on Your Site

Request more information about licensing

Teaching Channel's videos ​help teachers get better at teaching--no matter where they are in their careers.​ By licensing our videos, your users get unlimited access to these unparalleled tools for a period of one year. To request more information:

License Type
Licensing Users