Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Peregrin5, Feb 28, 2017.
Mar 1, 2017
What is there to discuss if they all have the right answer and understand the work?
If they do all know the right answer, then it becomes a chance for them to practice using the vocabulary and concepts in conversation with each other. If they know the right answer but are maybe fuzzy on some aspect of it, having conversations where everyone shares their own understanding and ideas on it, they are able to either flesh out their ideas, or see what other people might think about that same concept. Sometimes the question has two or more alternative viewpoints that can be discussed, and supported with evidence or rebutted. It becomes an exercise not only in teamwork but holding academic discussions, and learning through conversing.
I understand your intent, but it isn't typical to sit around and discuss what you know when they see the end goal as the completion of work.
How about extension questions for discussion for groups that really know the work. Give them a good reason to discuss the science beyond the grade. Make sure it is something they have to elaborate on. That way they can be graded on the work that they know and have a topic to discuss.
Then tell them you will be monitoring and they can discuss their answers or if they choose they csn get the work out of the way and they can discuss the extension. It may not work for all kids but it might help with some.
It's a possibility, but one of my major goals this year is to get all kids engaged in scientific discussion and discourse. I'm also trying to change their end goal which they just see as completion of work, to increasing understanding and learning.
They are actually not really graded on the answers to the POGIL (it's what they're called), but they're actually graded on their discussion: how well they participate, how well they fulfill their roles, etc. Answers are checked by way of formative assessment, but it's never really graded. If there is a misconception, we stop and address it.
The way these are structured is they start with basic concepts first, and build into more complex concepts that the smart kids actually aren't too sure of. In addition, these are usually done to introduce material before they've been officially taught anything so very few "know" what the answers are, though some can make good guesses.
Mar 2, 2017
Perhaps part of the problem might be, since the material is new, they don't know exactly how to have the discussions. Can you give them sentence starters? Maybe if they know where and how to start what they're talking about, they'll be able to finish the thought more easily.
Sentence starters are something I'm using more often now. I'll look into that.
I think if the problem is that the material is new, then it might stem from some of their fears of looking dumb in front of others or fear of being wrong. It's new information but the information is there, they just need to process it. And high-achieving students are notorious for being afraid of being wrong or not knowing something and having to show that to peers. I'm not sure if that's the problem this particular student was having but it does give me new perspective on this issue.
Some high achieving just don't like crap flowing from their mouths just to talk. So if they don't know something well they won't talk about it.
For example, there are classes that will discuss and discuss but what they say is shallow. Then there are those that won't say much but when they do you better listen because it is right and well thought out. They process the information, which takes time. Then if they have something important to say they will speak.
It isn't always fear. Sometimes it is being responsible with words and knowledge (or lack of it).
If they don't like crap flowing from their mouths just to talk, then they better back up their claims with evidence.
I require high-level discussion in my classroom, from low-achievers and high-achievers alike. And while it isn't always fear, it usually is.
How do you know it is fear? There are estimates that up to a third of our society is made up of introverts. When presented with a new idea they like to reflect on it before speaking. They do not want or need to talk just to hear themselves speak. A large percentage of high achieving students are introverts.
Forcing students to talk about material when it is better learned in a different way seems counterproductive.
1. They do reflect on it before speaking. That's built into my protocol.
2. Academic discussions are one of the best ways to learn this material.
Says who? Any study will talk in generalities. There are no studies anywhere, for any type of learning, that says a strategy works for all students.
0.8 effect size from Hatties ranking of strategies affecting student achievement.
Regardless of if its a generality or not, if it works for most of my students, I'm going to implement it into my classroom. For those it doesn't work for, I have other things to get them up to speed. But as a teacher one has to analyze why something doesn't work for any particular student. Upon reflection, and getting several perspectives from this thread, I believe the incident that happened a few days ago was not because the student was introverted (he's not), or because he didn't want to carry the other students around him (they were all at the same level as him).
It's because as a high achieving student, things are usually easy. You complete a worksheet and turn it in. I'm asking for more contribution: discussion, justification, high-level academic speaking. This is harder. This student wasn't used to this so he got frustrated. Not a good reason to throw away an otherwise highly effective classroom strategy. Essentially he needs to learn to accept being pushed harder and asked to do more.
Mar 3, 2017
Group work only came into vogue when I was in grad school. It was never part of our learning in high school or undergrad (there was a 12 year gap between college and grad school for me.)
Wow - did I hate to look at the class syllabus and see group project after group project. Once in a while was fine. But I learned less than I could have in many instances: for example, fishbowl discussions caused us to learn one discussion point in detail and merely listen to other groups talk about the other topics. I would have been better off writing summaries of each topic on my own.
Also, I felt some teachers used group work as a substitute for actual teaching on their part.
In other instances, I would do my part of a group project and it would be scored at 100% but I would receive a C on the overall grade because others either couldn't or wouldn't understand/perform what was expected. No, it wasn't my job to check on them and cajole them into it.
Group work was a waste of time for me. I gained absolutely nothing from it whatsoever.
I work in a collaborative environment and do fine. I didn't need that "practice" in school.
If group work is not done well, it can definitely be ineffective. Which is why I think it's highly important that if you do group work you do design it well. And if you design it well, it can have great impacts on learning.
We've all had bad group project experiences. In my credential program, I was the one that had to do everyone else's work on research papers and things because if I didn't, we would have gotten a pretty dismal grade because the other group members didn't do their part. If you design group work so that everyone has to make a contribution before moving on, it makes it more meaningful for all students involved.
Mar 4, 2017
I'm sorry but the "it worked for me!" method of argumentation is just about worthless. I share your experience on a personal level but my students collaborate in my classroom all the time now and benefit greatly from it.
Peregrine, the one thing I'd note based on what I've read here is that as a student who hated group work myself, the thing I resented most were the assigned jobs within the group. It is just not authentic. If I were told by some kid who I knew was not as good of a student as I was that I was going too fast I'd have shut down immediately. I truly believe we have "over structured" our collaborative groups and that has limited their effectiveness. If the task is set up properly then collaboration becomes much more natural. Assigning specific roles, or forcing a task that could easily be completed individually as group work, is asking for complaints.
I've always been leery of roles as well, as I haven't really had effective or meaningful ones in my experience. However the roles that the POGIL structure (a specific collaboration structure that I'm using that has been developed by teachers/researchers far more expert than me) provides actually made a lot of sense and resulted in really good collaboration whenever I've used them. I think they were good to start with, as they helped students understand what good group work and discussion should look like but I've been thinking of phasing out the roles and letting them take more control.
Mar 5, 2017
As a teacher who has also used POGILs, I allow any student to ask ME a question (not just the spokesperson) , but I don't think you should abandon the idea of having roles within the group. Learning how to effectively collaborate, which is what POGIL encourages, is such an important skill. I think without it you will see more of "everyone does a different question, and we all copy each other's answers". The most important part of the POGILs I've used have been learning how to read and interpret the diagrams and graphs in them. With no roles, students may discuss LESS.
One thing I always ask former students is how prepared they felt for the demands of learning in college. One student visiting this year shared that his freshman chemistry course was taught via the POGIL method, and he was glad that he was introduced to this in high school. Some college majors also require multiple collaborative projects, in which each year students assume a different role (the last year you are the manager). Learning how to be an effective collaborator is an important part of life. No one goes through life doing everything on their own without the help, advice, brainstorming, etc. of others.
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