group work

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by teacher09, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. teacher09

    teacher09 New Member

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    Apr 18, 2008

    When you have students do group work do you allow them to pick their groups or do you assign groups? Do you ever have difficulties with cliques excluding students? What do you do when students refuse to work together or if you have a particular student that no one wants to work with? Any suggestions?
     
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  3. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 18, 2008

    I assign groups, but I've been known to change them if I see the need, usually for reasons you're asking about. They don't have a choice in this matter. They either figure out a way to work together, or their grade suffers, end of discussion. If they whine and complain, my usual response is that out in the real world they will have to work with people they don't like, so they'd better learn to do it now, before the roof over their heads depend on it.
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Apr 18, 2008

    I pick the groups as well and tell my groups the same thing that mmswm states.
     
  5. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Apr 18, 2008

    Like mmswm, I assign groups and they have no choice in the way I assign groups. One thing I do that really helps is have group members evulate themselves. They fill out a rubric giving their group members a score 0 - 5 in regards to completing their part of the assignment, participation in group discussion, respecting all group members, ect... This does become a small part of their grade (my students don't know how small of a percentage it really is :) ). Most of my students take this evaulation very seriously even when evaulating themselves. :0
     
  6. Vegas Art Guy

    Vegas Art Guy Rookie

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    Apr 20, 2008

    It depends on the class to be honest. If I have a class that I trust then I will let them pick. If I don't trust the class then I pick. And I make it perfectly clear that no argument will be tolerated. Some classes you can't do group work with because they cannot handle it.

    I'm also not afraid to change group membership if things go South...
     
  7. carlea

    carlea Comrade

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    Apr 21, 2008

    Whenever I have group/partner work, I use one of these ways to choose: let them choose, I choose, and random choice (each student draws a piece of paper with a letter or something on it & they have to find the person with the match).

    At the end of the project, my students write reflections on their work including working with their group/partner. They write about what everyone's role was, how the work was divided, if everyone did their share, if anyone did more than another, if there was anything they would do better next time, would they work with this person/group again, etc. I do include this into their grade, too.
     
  8. KCTeacher

    KCTeacher Rookie

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    Apr 22, 2008

    I actually have my class sitting in groups. Of course I arranged the seating beforehand putting stronger students with weaker ones, or quiet students next to those who can't keep their mouths shut. They already know there is a reason they are partnered with that person and they usually can figure out the reason on their own. If they work in pairs, they work with that person. If they work in groups, they work with that person as well as the other two pairs in their group. There is no choice on their part because they would choose to be with their friends and no work will get done. They get used to the people they must work with and seem to overcome their petty disagreements.
     
  9. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Apr 22, 2008

    The only time I let them choose their own groups is if I'm doing an activity that I know will require them to look silly. They are often much more willing to do that with friends than with those they aren't as close with.
     
  10. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    Apr 30, 2008

    I do both depending on the groups of kids themselves. Three years ago, I had some really positive experiences with group work. No complaints from kids, even when I assigned the groups, and they were all pleased with their marks. The same was true in my internship.

    Last year, working with ESL kids who missed a lot of school, and had weak reading and writing skills, they did more independent tasks, so that if one of them was suddenly gone for two weeks to go to work, their group mates didn't suffer.

    This year however, I have been unable to successfully assign group work. Students cannot work independently, let alone in groups. With two months left, it is not a headache I want to take on!
     
  11. jsfowler

    jsfowler Companion

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    May 3, 2008

    For the first two weeks, I allow students to sit where they want...as long as there are no obvious problems. I allow them to work in groups at their tables. I use these two weeks to assess who my really stong science students are, who is really struggling, and who cannot work together.

    I then make a group organizer. I cut out three circles (small, medium, large). I divide them into 8 sections each, like cutting a pie. (I do 8 because I have 8 tables) I stack them on top of each other, center them, and connenct them with a brad in the center so that I can turn them) I put my eight strongest science leaders on the largest circle, the eight weakest science students (and maybe even trouble makers) on the smallest circle, and every one else in the middle. I tell the kids I put their names on the circles randomly.

    When I want to assign groups using this organizer, I pull it out, give it a spin, make sure there are no major problems with the matching and read them aloud. This way, I have a high, medium, low in each group. This is something that works for me and I have used it for several years.

    My friend uses a similar method with color coded sticks. One color for high in a decorated soup can, one color for medium in another can, and one color for low in another can. This kids are never aware of the color connection, they think it was just random from her master list of names. She puls out a high, medium, and low and that is their group for the day.
     
  12. Noggin

    Noggin Rookie

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    May 12, 2008

    Completely agree with this. I choose the groups for serious projects, seminars, etc. for my own sanity and for their productivity. But two group projects we did this year involved mock interviews and the kids did much better on the second one with their friends than with the groups I formed for the first one. They were much more spontaneous and comfortable.
     
  13. ~mrs.m~

    ~mrs.m~ Comrade

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    May 13, 2008

    I always assign the groups. I have recently discovered the value of small icebreakers even with pairs. For example, name something you both don't like, or two truths and a lie. It gets them talking and seems to help.
     
  14. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jun 13, 2008

    I have index cards for each class with each student's name on a card. I use them mainly for calling on the students. Sometimes I assign groups by selecting cards at random. For more intense group projects, I'll choose specific kids to sit together based on ability/personality.

    Also, Canadian Gal, thank you for your input - you've verified what I observed this, my second, year of teaching. Last year group work was great. This year I quit trying. I didn't even change the layout of the desks! I changed seats but the layout remained the same because they were incapable of being seated in groups. I thought it was me!
     
  15. klaw

    klaw New Member

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    Jun 23, 2008

    Group Work in the Classroom

    I love JS Follower's method for randomly sorting her students. I just let my grading program do a random sort in the seating chart section then I manipulate kids who I don't want sitting together. I really should get better at grouping high, low, talkers, non-talkers, plus I need to take into consideration my ELL students.

    Also, when students actually work on a group assignment, I too use self-assessing rubrics that are a part of their grade as well. Besides the actual group project, I do require individuals to turn in their own work. These is to prod along the "slackers" who let others do all the work.

    Sometimes I let them pick their groups and other times I assign groups. Sometimes it is really nice for the motivated students to team up and just go crazy with a project. And sometimes it's a wake up call for the "slackers" to experience not being picked because of their slacking tendencies and boy, when they find themselves in a group together if they want a passing grade, they won't be able to rely on the hard workers. :eek:
     
  16. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jun 24, 2008

    I choose all different kinds of ways to choose groups. I don't use one way each time. And pretty much every year there are a few kids who are on "my pick" all year because they can't interact appropriately with a large group of people.
     
  17. NUMB3RSFAN

    NUMB3RSFAN Rookie

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    Jun 25, 2008

    I always assign groups for group work, but if is partner work I follow this system:

    At the beginning of the year I hand them each a blank clock face worksheet. They find partners for each "hour" on the clock. Then, when it comes time to work, I simply say "Get with your __ o'clock partner" and they get with the partner on their worksheet. This way they get control over who they work with, but they can't work with the same person every time!
     
  18. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jun 25, 2008

    I usually just pull sticks with names on them. If an highly dangerous mix come up, I make an executive decision to change a student or two. The kids never complain because they know that the groupings are 'totally' random.
     
  19. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jun 25, 2008

    :lol:

    "highly dangerous mix"

    I'll have to remember that.
     

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