Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Challenge of Group Work

This morning I planned a social studies lesson where students were tasked with completing the reading of an article on Pre Columbian civilization, highlight important information to share on a collaborative Google Slides to teach classmates, and jot down notes as to why they highlighted information. These notes are important and will help guide what students put on the slides. However, sometimes the best-laid plans do not work out the way you expected them to.

Students met with the same groups as earlier in the week and settled in to get work done. They had about 25 minutes to complete the work, which many groups were half way done when they began. What I saw were groups who struggled to work together. Some students were more concerned about them and went ahead. Others talked over each other. Some were trying to talk and their group mates and felt unheard. So when I said time was up no group finished their task, and students were surprised that they had been working for 25 minutes.

I spent some time reflecting with students on the concept of group work and the process groups go through. Students shared many were off task. Some were shouting directions as group mates, being a boss rather than a leader. Others were flicking highlighters or pencils. We did a lesson on empathy, thinking about how this makes group members feel. Students recognized feeling words such as annoyed, frustrated, angry, etc. As a class we talked about group skills for success. We problem solved how to encourage all kids to talk or share ideas, as some students felt like their idea was not good enough to share or no one cared about their idea.

Learning to work on groups is a life long skill, as many of us work on teams in our job. We all need to listen, share ideas, and compromise in these situations. Our young students struggle with collaborative group work skills, and we will continue to build upon these skills this year. It is important we all feel comfortable to share ideas and grow as a classroom community. I look forward to next week when we try this again! Glad we always have a do over!

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