Setting Groups in Science Lab

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by gscarsdale, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. gscarsdale

    gscarsdale New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 1, 2010

    What is the best way to group the students in a Science lab? Is there a benefit for reassigning groups as the semester progresses or is it beneficial for them remain together to build teamwork?
     
  2.  
  3. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Messages:
    490
    Likes Received:
    12

    Feb 1, 2010

    For most labs, I will randomly assign groups, using a deck of cards, ability, or other method.

    At the beginning of the year, though, I let students choose their own partners for the first lab, after we discuss what being a good lab partner means. No surprise, most choose their best friends, which rarely results in quality work. When those labs are returned, and students realize that I am grading quality and not "quantity" ("I wrote something for every question"), we will do another lab with the same groups. Some show much improvement, some don't. After doing a few labs with others, most students realize they are more focused on tasks when they don't work with their BFFs.
     
  4. KateL

    KateL Habitué

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    810
    Likes Received:
    2

    Feb 1, 2010

    Middle school teacher here. I reassign groups every month or so to encourage the students to learn to deal with other people, and also to spread the most annoying students around the classroom so one group doesn't get stuck with them for the whole semester. I try to group the high kids with medium kids, and also low kids with medium kids. High and low kids usually don't work well in a group because the high kids are too impatient to wait for the low kids to catch on. Mixing up who the medium kids are paired with also gives them a chance to sometimes be the high kids and sometimes be the low kids.

    (Note - High and low in this case don't always correlate with grades or test scores. Some kids are very good at thinking through labs and have good lab technique, even if they aren't as good at other types of assignments.)
     
  5. Toak

    Toak Cohort

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    555
    Likes Received:
    1

    Feb 1, 2010

    Having students pick their own partners is cruel to the socially outcast children - even more so when there is an odd number of students, and every group tells them "We don't want you."

    I observed one teacher doing this with sixth graders in a class where there was a social outcast. Then the teacher yelled at the girl for standing their waiting to see which group would be forced to take her, instead of walking up to join a group that she knew would tell her to buzz off
     
  6. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Messages:
    303
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 1, 2010

    I teach middle school science, and I randomly assign students using many different ways to groups. They work in these groups for lots of different things, not just labs. I do it because I want students to work with lots of different people and learn to recognize strengths in others. There isn't anyone who does everything well.
     
  7. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,710
    Likes Received:
    13

    Feb 2, 2010

    I pull numbered popsicle sticks and use old maid cards to do random groupings. The person who gets the Old Maid card gets to pick their group. I always "randomly" assign groups but sometimes I will set it up so that particular people do not work together.
     
  8. KLH

    KLH Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 7, 2010

    I have tables. On the first day students sit alphabetically, which helps me learn names (I'm bad at names). These are their lab groups. I do two labs within the first week. It turns out that students sitting alphabetically are often friends because they've done it for years. So I move students away from each other when I see that friends distract one another.

    Ability is another factor for assigning groups. It is not good to group your brightest and lowest students together. Someone will get frustrated. Group highest ability with average and average with lowest, realizing that you should give the low-average groups more of your time.

    Sometimes a pair works particularly well together and I keep them together all the time.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Backroads,
  2. cdavis,
  3. luvtulearn,
  4. katall
Total: 198 (members: 5, guests: 166, robots: 27)
test