Nov 30, 2012
On 11/30/12, Sara wrote:
> On 11/27/12, stuck wrote:
>> I have put students into groups to work on an activity in
>> order for them to share ideas and explore the material in
>> more depth, so it's not just me talking to them. I came up
>> with a great activity, the only problem is that they are
>> not interacting much, more like one student figures out the
>> answer and the rest copy. How do you solve this?
> 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
> be history.
> 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
> to go.
Hmm, good idea. I like the angle of something that's not right or
wrong. To clarify, I teach Art and I had them look up artists and
discuss what themes they saw evident in the work based on a list
I provided. The categories overlapped and part of what they had
to do was justify one category as the best. Seems like that's
something that should generate dialogue. Is there something
missing from this approach? Kids would just sit around and come
up with their own responses or copy one another.
It seems as though the answer to this problem may unfortunately
be the same answer to every problem of asking students to do
anything that they haven't done a thousand times before. You have
to back up and first teach the method. In this case, teaching or
modeling how to have a discussion. The problem is, I couldn't
figure out how to do that. Maybe they just need to do this over
and over? Or maybe I should group the talkers all together to
throw ideas around, and let the do-nothings all sink together?
I don't know