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Sat Jan 4, 2014, 02:50 AM

Dial back group work

I always hated it. I could not figure out why it was so popular. One of my favorite teachers (calc) always gave us the option of working in groups or not.

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Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply Dial back group work (Original post)
jeffrey_pdx Jan 2014 OP
NYC_SKP Jan 2014 #1
SheilaT Jan 2014 #3
jeffrey_pdx Jan 2014 #2
LWolf Jan 2014 #4

Response to jeffrey_pdx (Original post)

Sat Jan 4, 2014, 02:56 AM

1. It's good in moderation, depends upon ages, subjects, etc.


It teaches cooperation and, sometimes, is more like the real world than working alone.

For calculus, especially in a diverse class of learners (mixed abilities), teams or small groups can really keep the teacher sane.

If each group has a strong learner there's far less likelihood that the teacher will have to go to several kids for individual help.

This makes him or her more available to the rest or to the group.

So it can be a good thing but it can also be overdone.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 4, 2014, 03:16 AM

3. On the other hand,


the "strong learner" can make it easier for the "weak learner" not to learn anything.

I am not all that crazy about group work. I came of age in the era when we all did our own work. Some years later, back in school as an adult, coming up against group work, I wasn't very crazy about it. One disruptive member in the group could make it very difficult for all the others.

I'm happy to do my own work, thank you very much, and I really do like getting the grade that I myself earn.

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Response to jeffrey_pdx (Original post)

Sat Jan 4, 2014, 03:14 AM

2. I always felt I was working to improve other peoples grade. Selfish I guess.

Finally I just stopped doing it. I wanted to be judged on own work.

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Response to jeffrey_pdx (Original post)

Sat Jan 4, 2014, 12:17 PM

4. It depends on the subject, the assignment, the goals,

the way it is structured, and a bunch of other factors.

Underneath all of those factors is the need to send young adults out knowing how to work cooperatively with others.

Many gifted students don't like group work, because they think and work and produce so much faster; others slow them down. It's even more important for them to learn to work well with others. That's a life-skill that's essential for all of us. It's important to structure group work so that the gifted don't have the burden of "carrying" the group, but just their own portion of the pie.

Some students just learn better with a group, and others better on their own. Since we don't have the resources to completely customize every assignment for every student, both have to be present to provide balance, so that all are sometimes challenged with working outside their comfort zone, and sometimes working within that zone.

Group work is an important part of the larger picture. It's good for getting students to dive into something challenging in the beginning, because they are more engaged if they aren't intimidated, and the support of a group is important. It's good because one of the important ways the brain processes new information to understand it and move it into long term memory is to talk about it with others. It can also be time-efficient. In the era of constant testing and test-prep and demands to prove that we spend every day teaching to the test, longer-term projects are few and far between. A group can produce a research project much more quickly, because each member is only doing one part of that assignment, yet they are all engaged in the process of gathering, analyzing, organizing, and reporting information.

All of that said, independent work is also important. In the end, students need to be able to demonstrate that they've learned something without the support of a group. That's the usual sequence in my classroom: group work early, independent work towards the end of a unit.

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