Group Work ANYONE??

Sunday, September 13, 2015
One of my goals this year is to get my students talking….not something that teachers say very often, right?  Usually I like my classroom VERY VERY quiet.  A quiet classroom just makes me FEEL like all of the students are on task. Am I right??? I do incorporate Turn and Talk, Think Pair Share, Talk to Your Neighbor and those sorts of things…..but after reflecting on my own teaching, I definitely think that I need to get more group work integrated into my daily routine.

For me, I hardly remember working in groups during my younger years.  It actually started in college.  Cooperative learning must have been "trendy" in education during the 90s because it seemed like ALL I was doing was group projects in college (ESPECIALLY during my education classes)…Which leads me to the picture below.  Can anyone else relate???
Which leads me to the REAL problem of cooperative groups…..often ONE or TWO people end up doing ALL of the work and everyone else just skates by.  To HOPEFULLY  alleviate this, I started the year off with setting up NORMS for group work.  I actually put the students in groups of 4 (everyone counted off 1-4 the old school way.) Once students were in their groups, their only "assignment" was to brainstorm together what they thought each of the following jobs (recorder, materials manager, task manager, and reporter) entailed. 

I recorded ideas on the chart seen above on Day #1.  I also had students decide in these groups who wanted to do what job. (I stressed that this would NOT always be the case…we all need to step out of our comfort zone!) I also told them a little story about myself…that I wouldn't be caught DEAD volunteering to be the presenter, I loved recording the most (or really anything BUT the reporter!) BUT if I absolutely HAD to be the reporter I was OK with it (at least once it was over….ha!)

 That brought me to Day #2.  I started the Group Work session with the FRAMEWORK form seen below.  It allowed me to lay out the question/task, the jobs that would be in place, the materials that would be needed, and finally the time frame that the students would have. I also made these fancy JOB TAGS that students wore during the group work.
SO, what did the student actually DO while they were in Group Work??? I actually chose a math problem that focused on a standard that I had taught the past week, decimals.  Here the students cut apart the math problem solving steps and worked together to solve the problem.  It worked VERY well since we had worked on the norms the previous day. Here is an example of how the posters turned out.
Next, I am going to have the students use the reflection form that I made so students will be able to reflect on how their Group Work went.  Here is a sneak peek at that…I will definitely let you know how these work out!
If you would like to use these materials in your classroom, they are available for purchase.  
Click on the picture below to be taken to that link!
Do you have any tips or tricks for having your students work in groups? 


  1. I can totally relate! In fact, the cover photo made me laugh out loud!! I attended college in the 90s and it was definitely difficult getting used to all of the group work after working pretty-much solo before that. I absolutely LOVE how organized this introduction to group work is. You have laid the groundwork for student success because everyone knows the expectations! Thanks for a great post!


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