Monday, December 17, 2012

Group Work

First of all, my prayers go out to all those affected by Friday's school shooting. I haven't been able to read about the principal and teachers protecting their students and the kids' families without crying. I hope that in the coming weeks we can have meaningful conversations about what in our culture allows these tragedies to happen and what we can do about them (at home and abroad). Maybe one way to do that is to start using schools as places to build community.

I try to include plenty of group work in our classroom. I've bought into the idea that the 21st Century workplace requires teamwork and that group work is also a great way to build the community that I strive for so much.

But it sure is hard sometimes.

Jane doesn't like to work with John and Paul doesn't like group work at all. Lila will do all the work no matter which group she is in. Then there's that one time Dan, Joanie, and Zach made a beautiful presentation about what to do in the even to of a zombie apocalypse.

I know that a part of group work is not just turning students lose to produce whatever you've assigned but teaching students how to communication, collaborate, and create. Some tactics I've found useful are community meetings about what good groups look like, creating rubrics for group work rather than just the assignment itself, and reflections on what worked and what didn't in the group.

What works for you, teacher friends? For those of you not teaching, what skills about getting along with your co-workers do you wish you'd been explicitly taught?

Names, as always, have been changed.  

1 comment:

Heather said...

At the middle school level, creating roles for each member of the group really helps students to stay on task. I try to think about what the whole group will have to do, break that down into individual jobs, and decide how many students can be in a group based on that. I also try to make sure I don't assign "fluffy" jobs like "timekeeper" but ones that will require everyone to be working and learning.