Partners, Triads, Quads....

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by ayotte04, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jul 27, 2007

    So I'm all about changing it up in terms of learning/working. The kids have the potential to learn better/more from their peers (on occassion). What are your opinions about having kids work in pairs, triads, or groups of 4?

    I've found it's nice to breakup the monotony, but it's hard to ensure they're on task the entire time. Even when I circulate the room I hear them talking about gym class, the newest movie, or what's going on this weekend. Sure they pretend to "be on task" when Im in their area, but as soon as I walk away to another group, I hear them reverting to their old ways.

    What's the best way to keep them on task/accountable without getting off subject? :confused:
     
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  3. wldywall

    wldywall Connoisseur

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    Jul 28, 2007

    I used Kagan cooperative learning activites while I student taught, but also a technique I learned from Adam Waxlers book last year, I would ask a question and have them all write a response (all write is a Kagan thing) then they would pair share. I prefer to have students in groups of four, per Kagan, one high, one medium high, one medium, and one low. Each person in group has a job. I try to make assignemtns that do not allow talking, however if they are doing what they should and there is a little off topic talking I don't mind......but I watch them very closely, if that group is falling behind, I let them know. I also wish I could get what is called a yaker tracker, to let them know when the noise is too high.

    http://www.teachingatozcatalog.com/...cker&x=7&y=5&gclid=CNTSuvjByY0CFQlQWAod-VB0MQ
     
  4. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jul 28, 2007

    i'll have to look into it. Thanks
     
  5. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Jul 28, 2007

    I also like groups of four, but I've had Kagan training too ;)

    What's nice is that you can have partner groups within the foursome (I call them "even/odd" partners, Kagan calls them face/shoulder partners)

    My desks are always in groups of 4 except test days when I put them in rows. The kids are good about staying on task during the "teacher part" of the lesson, and I have three things that I do to keep them on task during independent work time.

    1) Play music softly. Something about middle school students - absolute silence seems to get to them! I like instrumental music - guitar, piano, saxophone.

    2) My timer. I absolutely love my "teachtimer". You put it on th overhead and it counts down the time they have to complete the task. I have to use that for myself, because if not, I'll say 5 minutes and then lose track of time ;). Also, I tell the children that I set the timer for what I believe is a reasonable amount of time, BUT if EVERYONE is working hard and we need a bit more time I can reset the timer. If not, when the timer is off, we're moving on. They are usually working on their notebook assignments which I grade at the end of the week - whatever doesn't get finished translates into more work at home. The timer is my best teaching friend and here is a link

    3) Task points. I generally only use this when they are working on something that is half to a whole period long - writing/reviewing/project. I stole this idea from somebody *thanks whoever you are!!!* Print out an overhead of your class list with three columns. Announce to the students that while they are working, you will be circulating. Three times while you are circulating you are going to look at every student. If a student is working *when you look at them* they get a check. If a student is not working *when you look at them* they don't. End of the period - three checks is 100, two checks is an 85, 1 check is a 70, no checks is a zero. I put the score as time on task points into my *practice* homework/classwork category which is only 15% of my grade, but the kids really respond. Often I just need to make eye contact and raise my pen to have Johnny scurrying to get on task. Again, I don't do this daily - only when I need to - a good bit when introducing independent work, then usually only when they start to flag - around holidays, etc. or when we're doing a project.

    Hope this helps! :)
     
  6. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jul 28, 2007

    yup one of my master teachers had that timer. It's so awesome!
     
  7. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Jul 29, 2007

    My kids don't get to leave the class when the bell rings - I dismiss them (I'm strict about that). Anyway, I train them to know that the group/row working the hardest and quietest will be released first. It seems like a little thing (we're talking a matter of a few seconds difference) but it usually does the trick. Of course, I have to occasionally remind them of this...but when I do, their group members start shh'ing them for me!
     

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