Hi everyone. I am new to the boards. I have about 3 semesters of school left and am currently in a Classroom Motivation class. I was asked to interview some teachers about what works best for them. The question is, What works best in your class regarding group work and motivation? How do you divide your class into groups? How do you motivate the groups? How is work structured within the groups? Is each student responsible for one part of the work? Or do they all work together? Is there an incentive? How are they rewarded? Have cooperative groups been effective for your class? Why or why not?
I would be soooo grateful if you all could give me some insight. You don't have to answer all of the questions, I just wanted to let you know what kinds of things I'm interested in.
BTW, I have been lurking on the boards for a while now, and I absolutely love coming here to check out ideas and advice. I looked at the AOL boards and they are sooooo mean there. I swear there was a gal on there who hated her job, said she should have went into journalism like her high school counselor told her to, and was trying to convince student teachers to change their minds!! She's been teaching for 20+ years. It absolutely shocked me. Everyone here seems so nice. Thanks for making such a friendly atmosphere.
Hi, there are many many many methods to my group making... depending on the assignment,the group of kids I have, the subject, etc. Here are some things I have done in the past...
My reading groups are stable groups that for the most part that don't change often. I run centers every week where the kids have to rotate between center activites. Each week, I assign a team "captain". This person is the go-to for their group... answers questions, resolves conflicts, keeps the others on task, etc. The captain is held responsible and if a good job is done, he/she is rewarded! The kids LOVE being captain... it gives them a real sense of responsibility. The kids are not allowed to come to me during centers, so captains learn all sorts of skills to make their group number one.
I have ALSO put the kids into groups and given each student in the group a role to play (I have cards that the kids randomly choose from)
The supplies manager, the checker, the encourager, and the recorder. Their responsibilities are detailed on each card and they are given an assignment to complete together.... I've learned that this type of grouping and role assigning takes time and practice to master! It's got it's pros and cons... on one hand, the kids learn that the success of the group as a whole depends on each group member- they must work together as a team to accomplish a task- they hold individual responsibility as well as responsibility for their group. The kids love acting out these roles. The downside can be students getting too wrapped up over whose job it is to do what, or if one student is not doing their job to the likeness of others, etc... the experience will definately lend itself to lesson and discussions about teamwork!
Some groups are based on same abilities (guided reading) and some are a mixture of abilities. Sometimes I let the kids choose but no more than 4 in a group. Certain children are never allowed to work together again if there has been some sort of real trouble previously.
This reminded me of one year I taught Science part-time. I had a class of nice kids except for 5 unruly (and very immature) grade 6 boys. Since I had 5 stations in the Science lab, each group had one of these boys in it just to separate them from each other. They were uncooperative with the rest of their group members and only wanted to be "material managers".
Finally, I had a "a-ha" moment!! I put all 5 boys in the same group and wouldn't allow them to do any experiments until they agree on who would take on each role. Of course they pouted, argued, stared at each other and sat like lumps for about 4 classes. I even gave them suggestions on how to pick fairly (rock, paper, scissors; guessing a number; pulling from a hat; rotating throughout; etc.).
The other groups had so much fun because they didn't have to put up with these guys. I enjoyed myself because I didn't have to listen to the "nice students" complain and ask for my help. I just smiled at my "special group" and would occaisionally ask them if they had made any headway (they were to write down the roles and names so I had a contract if they complained later on). By the time they agreed, we had moved on and they had to watch the other groups demonstate their results. I wish I had used this appoach earlier in the year!!!
Hi! I find that grouping lower ability children with higher ability children helps promote a positive learning environment. Communication skills are strengthened and i find that the higher ability students enjoy sharing their knowledge. Lower ability students enjoy the individual attention from their peer and learn to be active listeners. I would recommend creating the groups (consisting of two students) before teaching the lesson to insure that that groups are appropriate and differentiated. I would also recommend going over group-work responsibilities, showing what is expected from the groups by the teacher and by each partner. (**Positive incouragement should always be displayed) I observed a class one time, and the teacher allowed her students to work with other students continually throughout each lesson! It was amazing! The more students are allowed to work with other peers, the more they understand the correct behaviors to display in group work. It takes time to train the students, however, the end result is very rewarding for both the students and teacher.
I like my students to pick their own groups, because they know who they get along best with. I normally have their desks in those groups (normally groups of 4), and they can earn group points each day (for all paying attention, being quiet when putting books away, etc...). At the end of the week, the group with the most points gets to pick from my treasure chest. Work is structured so that every person has a different job, but that depends on what the assignment is. I usually let them pick their own jobs, but I monitor them closely to make sure every one is working. I also have a jar of marbles for the whole class. When they all come in quietly, get compliments in the hall, etc... I add marbles to the jar. When the jar is full they earn a popcorn party (happens about once a semester). That way the whole class is rewarded when all the groups are doing what they're supposed to. I do change up groups as needed, by the way. If someone isn't cooperating, they finish that particular task by themself, and then they get moved for the next one. It works well with us!