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.
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.
for group work. We teach the students, model it, and have them practice it over
and over until they have it down.
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
who you know will be charismatic as they perform this important skit. Set up
your Skit Cards with what you want them to say.
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:
an article out loud, stopping after each paragraph.
the acting or role playing begins…
“Ok, we read the paragraph so what do you think is the main idea of this
“What did Mrs. Smart say about finding the main idea?”
“I can’t remember do you?”
“I think she said to ask ourselves, what is the author trying to tell us?”
“Oh yeah, that’s right.”
key details that support that.”
think the author is trying to tell us in this paragraph?”
process while modeling it for the class. Afterwards, ask the class “What did
you notice about what our group just did?”
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.
up the Scenario
play to model it
the most productive group or best working team.
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
my findings. Then I announce which group was the most productive or best working
team for the day.
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
(Astin, 1997; Tinto, 1998; National Survey of Student Engagement, 2006).
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
- Learn how to delegate
roles and responsibilities.
- Share and learn from
different perspectives and opinions.
- Pool their knowledge
- Receive social support
and encouragement to take risks.
- Develop new approaches
to solving problems or tasks.
- Establish a shared
identity with other group members.
- Develop their own
voice and perspectives in relation to their peers.
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.
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