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Role Playing is an Awesome Strategy for Group Work

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 17, 2019
Role Playing is an Awesome Strategy for Group Work

Group work is been proven to improve student retention and enhance student learning. In fact, our whole culture is based on team work and working together to solve problems. It makes sense that when people work together (more brainpower) they come up with more ideas, suggestions, and solutions to a problem. But the question remains how do we get children to work together effectively? How do we make sure they are actually working and not talking about what they did last weekend? The answer: We teach them.

The method I have found to be extremely effective is through role playing. Role playing to teach how you expect groups to work together can be a fun yet powerful strategy. Kids loves role playing and what better way to teach such an important life skill as working together. Setting up skit cards for each role is recommended.

First and foremost, we set up structured procedures for group work. We teach the students, model it, and have them practice it over and over until they have it down.

The Task: you want groups to take turns reading an article, stopping after each paragraph to highlight the key ideas. Then using those key ideas to figure out the main idea of each paragraph and then of the entire article.

The Performance:

Prepare the scenario or skit in advance. Set up your student actors and actresses ahead of time
who you know will be charismatic as they perform this important skit. Set up the Skit Cards with what you want them to say.

Scene 1: Have the student actors come up the front of the class so you can introduce each student actor. You might want to give yourself a role (as a student) also. The class will get a kick out of the
performance and you acting as a student. Now, run through the group work scenario. For our specific task it might go something like this:

Read an article out loud, stopping after each paragraph.

Now the acting or role playing begins…

 Bob:
“Ok, we read the paragraph so what do you think is the main idea of this paragraph?”

Tamara: “I don’t know.”

Braden: “What did Mrs. Smart say about finding the main idea?”

Marta: “I can’t remember do you?”

Bob: “I think she said to ask ourselves, what is the author trying to tell us?”

Braden: “Oh yeah, that’s right." 

Marta: “Then we are supposed to look for key details that support that."

Tamara: “Yeah. So let’s see what do you think the author is trying to tell us in this paragraph?”

Braden: “I’m not sure.”

Tamara: “Maybe we should read it again.”

Bob: “Good idea! I’ll go first.”

Then read the article again and go through the whole process while modeling it for the class. Afterwards, ask the class “What did you notice about what our group just did?”

Have the students come up with strategies or things they noticed that made this group work effectively together. For instance, they took turns reading, they reminded each other how to complete the task, they treated each other nicely, they used their quiet inside voices, they focused on the assignment, everyone had a turn to speak and read, they listened to everyone’s thoughts and ideas, etc.

Quick Steps:

  • Set up the Scenario
  • Role play to model it
  • Practice it
  • Give feedback
  • Pick the most productive group or best working team

Before we start any group activity, I always tell the class that I’m going to be looking for the most productive group or the group with the best team work. As groups are working and I circulate around the classroom, I look and listen—jotting down notes about what I saw or heard from different groups.

At the end of the activity, I give feedback to all the groups and share my findings. Then I announce which group was the most productive or best working team for the day.

What are the benefits of group work?

Group projects can help students develop a host of skills that are increasingly important in the professional world (Caruso & Woolley, 2008; Mannix & Neale, 2005). Positive group experiences, moreover, have been shown to contribute to student learning, retention and overall success
(Austin, 1997; Tinto, 1998; National Survey of Student Engagement, 2006).

Properly structured, group projects can reinforce skills that are relevant to both group and individual work, including the ability to:

  • Break complex tasks into parts and steps
  •   Obtain deeper understanding through group discussions
  • Give and receive feedback on performance
  • Develop stronger communication skills
  • Learn how to delegate roles and responsibilities
  • Share and learn from different perspectives and opinions
  • Pool their knowledge and skills
  • Receive social support and encouragement to take risks 
  •  Develop a new approach to solving problems or tasks
  • Establish a shared identity with other group members.
  • Develop their own voice and perspectives in relation to their peers.
Once students learned how to work productively in groups, try to resist the temptation to jump in too 

early and put the students on the right path. Part of effective group work is learning how to work together to solve a problem, perform a task, or create a project in collaboration with others.

 

What's the Deal with Differentiated Instruction?

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 02, 2019
What's the Deal with Differentiated Instruction?

As a teacher, you know that there are many different ways to teach your students. It’s important that you are flexible as a teacher to different strategies that can help make learning easier and more fun for your students. Because students learn in different ways, you need to remain in tune to what your students are feeling and what concepts exist to make it easier for you to teach to your students’ needs.

Differentiated instruction is one of the most important concepts for a teacher to embrace in their classroom. It gives students the best opportunity to learn the material they are being taught. It is based on the concept that not every student learns in the same way. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the importance and benefits of differentiated instruction.

Teaching According to Learning Style

Differentiated instruction is intended to ensure that every student learns in a way that is best suited to them. Students tend to learn differently. There are three learning styles:

  1. Auditory: Students learn through listening.
  2. Visual: Students learn based on the things they see, such as pictures and images.
  3. Kinesthetic: Students learn by being physically involved or through their sense of touch. 

A visual learner will typically have a difficult time learning when they are only given an auditory lesson, while an auditory learner will have a hard time learning through a project that allows them to use their sense of touch.

Differentiated instruction helps ensure that you teach in a way that best accommodates each student’s learning style. 

Teaching in Multiple Ways

When you choose to embrace differentiated instruction, it means delivering the same material in different ways. This not only will help ensure that every student in the room has the chance to learn in a way that best suits their own personal learning style, but students will also go over the same material over and over again. The repetitiveness may make the material easier for them to remember.

One of the most important parts of differentiated instruction is that it allows you to reach every student, no matter where they are in the learning process or what way they learn the best. It creates a more diverse learning experience for everyone involved.

That is why many of our social studies and science units include various activities to help you meet all your student's needs.

Kinesthetic with Outdoor Learning Centers

Take advantage of the pleasant weather and get the students up and moving outdoors. Our Major Landforms Unit for Interactive Notebooks is the perfect example of how this works.  Plan ahead of time of where you could set up your outdoor learning centers.  Remember to review the rules ahead of time. Let students know if they don't follow the rules then you'll have to bring them back inside. That is usually enough to stop any misbehaviors.

The following 12 major landforms are included in this unit:
*Island
*Lakes
*Valley
*Volcano
*Rivers
*Peninsula
*Glaciers
*Mountains
*Canyons
*Oceans
*Swamps and Marshes
*Delta

There are twelve Landform Foldable Booklets with questions and scenes about each landform for students to read, answer questions, cut, paste, and color. These foldable booklets fit perfectly inside their interactive notebooks and provide a tool for students to come back to review at any time.

In addition, there are also twelve Landform Posters with a brief info and a real-life photo so students can visualize and connect to the information. The landform posters can be placed in at centers, a learning station, or a creative bulletin board display.

Create an outdoor learning station about each of the landforms. Be sure to put the foldable booklets and landform photo poster at each station or center. Each passage gives a definition of the landform and an example of one so students can form a connection to the information. You could have the students work in pairs or group work.

The foldable booklets have four questions for students to answer. There is also a related landform scene for students to color. They can use the posters with real-life photos to help them visualize and connect to the information.

Providing different activities like taking the students outside is just one of many ways to differentiate learning in your classroom. These are just some of the benefits of differentiated instruction and why it’s so important to implement it in your classroom.

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