The silence speaks volumes. Over the years I've found 'group
work' to be as you're finding it. One day one of the strong
students came to be and said "Please don't put in a group
anymore - please let me work on my own because that's what's
going to happen anyway if you put me in a group. I'm tired of
carrying the dead weight around, just let me work by myself."
Your motivation for putting them in a group was to give them a
break from 'just you talking' - there are other ways to give
them a break from that. If a break is what's most important,
then they're getting one and you know what - they can learn
something by copying answers - and in real work groups in the
real world, tasks are delegated by a leader, not left up to
the group to work out.
Group work was the Johnson brothers idea - they were brothers
who were also Ph.ds in education and they wrote books about
group work in school and why it would prepare kids for the
real world. I don't think it does that, I don't think school
can really be preparation for the real world.
But your group work sounds like you gave them a work sheet and
they're supposed to look up answers. Try something more
opinionated. What subject do you teach? If it's history, tell
them they need to come to consensus on the question of -
should we let the nation go over the fiscal cliff? Actually
you could ask that question in any class, it doesn't have to
Or should we have gotten into World War I? Should we stop
trading with China? Rather than have them looking up 'facts'
have them discuss and they can appoint a spokesperson for
their group's point of view and the class can vote which way