Today is all about grouping. Group work is a huge part of my classroom and I'm going to share how I make it work for me.
I have to admit that I always hated group work. I was always that person who did all the work and everyone else got credit for it. I still hate having to do group work when I go to PDs. My goal is to help my students work well together (i.e. no arguing) and not dread group work as much as I do. I think kids learn so much from each other and I want to encourage them to collaborate.
When you are planning your lesson and want to include groups, you need to think about a few things.
- How many students need to be in each group?
- What materials do the groups need to have?
- What students do I want to work together?
- What students do I not want to work together?
- Do I want to assign each student a job in the group?
- What jobs do I want each student to have?
I highly recommend giving each student a job in the group. Think about each student's personality when giving them jobs. I had a student last year who wouldn't talk so I didn't give her the job of being the speaker for the group. Do you have a student who loves to draw? Give him or her the job of being the illustrator. As the year goes on, change the jobs and get students out of their comfort zones. You always have those students who are natural leaders but it's good to let other students lead once they feel more comfortable.
Some lessons obviously won't work well with grouping but many lessons will. I always found it easier to incorporate group work in math but I also did it quite a bit when we were reviewing a skill.
One thing that I have found always gets students into the group work is giving them a large sheet of drawing paper and a marker. They love to write with markers and this is the only time that I let them.
Before the lesson, I usually make sure to have the students divided into groups. It's to hard to divide them on the fly. At the beginning of last year, I had my students in a group and they stayed together for about 6 weeks. This way, I didn't have to constantly change the groups and all the students got familiar with their groups and the jobs in the group.
One way that I organize the group supplies is by putting them in different colored pencil boxes. All the materials they will need are in the boxes. This saves so much time by not having them go through their desks to find what they need. At the beginning of the year, I put a list of each person's job in the box so they could look at it if they didn't remember.
It is very important to set up your expectations for the group before beginning. I usually do a practice run with my kiddos where I grab a couple of students and we demonstrate how to run an effective group. We go through what to do when someone is telling others what to do, when someone isn't participating, and what everyone should be doing. This cuts down on most of the arguing within the groups. If they do start arguing, I remind them of what we practiced and how they need to work together.
The first few times you do groups, you might want to pull your hair out. I usually do but I have to remind myself that it will get easier. After the first 6 weeks of school, groups run smoothly. For the most part, I feel like they can run independently of me. I think that this is the mark of an effective group.
I put together a resource for you of things that help me when I do groups and some group ideas that you can use.
I have put it on sale for a week. Click on any of the pictures above to view it on TPT.
I made a grouping board on Pinterest. You can check it out below.
What suggestions do you have for grouping? Leave a comment to share with others.
Have a great day!