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Groups - Talk me out of it

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mimi6 mimi6 is offline
 
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Groups - Talk me out of it
Old 01-11-2014, 06:09 AM
 
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Put my students in groups before leaving school....TALK ME OUT OF IT! For the first time this year, I put students in groups. I have used groups with great success in the lower grades but the students this year (all classes) are extremely chatty...With a new semester, I decided to try it. Any advice or suggestions?


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maryteach maryteach is offline
 
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Hi, I teach middle too
Old 01-11-2014, 08:23 AM
 
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Put names in a hat and pull them and choose groups randomly. This usually avoids friends teaming up. Friends keep each other off task, usually. Especially with disruptive boys, you don't want friends together (you're pulling names, so if you see Anthony and Isaiah come up together, just don't let that happen).

Set the expectations very, very clearly, both orally and on the board. Do this first, this second, this third. Kids misbehave in a lot of circumstances, but not really understanding what they're supposed to do triggers a lot of misbehavior.

You can assign roles, too. I think that's kind of young for middle, but maybe not. If you do, you have to teach and model the roles. You can't just tell a kid, "You're the task manager" and let him go.

Consider keeping score for groups and rewarding the best group. If you always randomly assign your groups, you don't have to worry about the same group of achievers winning all the rewards. Decide what earns points--on task behavior, completion of task, that sort of thing.

And then there's the kid who just cannot do this. I am of the opinion that the rest of the class should not be disallowed from an activity because of Jordan. If he can't make it happen, send him to the classroom next door. Wish him better luck next time. IMO, too many middle school teachers put up with crap from the one, two, or three kids who are actually ruining it for everyone else.

Don't expect golden success your first, second, even third time. It takes practice, and some classes are going to be better at it than others. There is the occasional class that should NEVER be put in groups. But the thing I always like to say about teaching is: Go for it! We have a job that is unique in that we can try things and absolutely no one but ourselves ever knows whether it went well or not. If it's a flop, so what? No one knows but you (the kids don't count. They're clueless). Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and figure out what to do to fix it or do next. While it's true that no one usually sees our brilliant successes, it's also true that no one usually ever sees our flops.
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Maryteach
Old 01-11-2014, 11:13 AM
 
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Thanks so much for your input....When I use to use "cooperative groups" in the upper elementary grades, I did use the point system. I think I will try that again (extra points on a test, homework pass, etc.) Any suggestions for testing days? I do not have any extra desks for them to move to around the room?
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maryteach maryteach is offline
 
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For testing days
Old 01-11-2014, 12:46 PM
 
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as well as workshop days, I space my desks around the room. Same # of desks, just not in groups or rows. I find everyone focuses better during independent reading or independent writing or testing if they're spaced apart from each other. It's not a perfect solution, but I do think it stops a lot of misbehavior before it begins.

I think it's important to have the independent days as well, because although I've never taught high school, something tells me they don't do a lot of cooperative groups. I think by eighth grade, it's time to start transitioning into independent stuff.

Another thing you can do is set norms with the class for group work before you begin. You can also decide on consequences, as a class maybe. The important thing with that will be following through.
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My 7th graders are ALWAYS in groups
Old 01-11-2014, 01:50 PM
 
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I start my 7th graders in groups from day 1. I agree with maryteach; you need to set your expectations clearly and be consistent with following through with your consequences.

That being said, I really don't think having them in groups creates any more chatter than not; it depends on how you teach your class. We do partner or group work almost everyday, so I couldn't imagine having them in rows or on their own. Very little of my block time is me doing direct instruction, so groups work very well with my style. If I lectured often, I'm not sure it would work as well

When we have tests and quizzes, they have big cardboard privacy folders, which prevents roaming eyes. The desks are set up in groups of 4, with two desks side by side facing forward, and two desks facing each other. Each group has 2 boys and 2 girls, and I always assign seating...but I do mix it up often to keep it interesting.

Go for it! I have found that kids in groups are more willing to participate, make new friends easier, and will ask questions when they don't understand more frequently, because they are in less of a "spotlight." Good luck!


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Middle School/Jr High (6-8)
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