Group Work - Practical Considerations

From OER in Education


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Practical Considerations

Review all the ideas you have explored relating to group work, some of which are summarised in the table below. Circle in colour any ideas you have never used or considered.

In another colour highlight the ideas you intend to try with your case study class. Of these, prioritise with numbers the idea you think will have most impact in your lessons.

Reflect on your practice after each lesson. When you have successes or difficulties with the case study class, share them with other teachers who may have ideas to help you.

After at least four weeks of putting these ideas into practice, carry out the original questionnaire again – both your own views on pupils’ likely perceptions, plus the pupils’ views themselves.

Putting it into practice

Grouping – size and composition

I could use …

Managing groups

I could use …

Stimulus for group talk

I could use …

pairs pair talk explanation for group talk
small group (three or four) pairs to fours demonstration for group talk
large group (five to seven) snowball question and answer for group talk
friendship grouping spokesperson taking notes using group talk
ability grouping envoys worksheets and book exercises using group talk
groups with similar personalities together rainbow groups practical work using group talk
groups with different statements number/letter/colour misconceptions or false personalities together
single-sex groups random numbering artefacts, photographs, etc.
groups with equal numbers of boys/girls per group random continuum open ended questions
random selection for grouping other ideas group concept or mind maps
groups with pupils with same first language other ideas concept cartoons

card sorts or continuum

other ideas


Whatever you choose to do, remember:

  • grouping plans rather than seating plans;
  • the choice of seating and grouping is yours;
  • express grouping and seating in terms of learning not behaviour;
  • change groups regularly;
  • ensure pupils know what the purpose and the product of the discussion will be;
  • make explicit the reason why they should;
  • be considerate to the views of others;
  • face each other, and sit as close together as possible;
  • use eye contact;
  • clear the desks before they talk as a group;
  • work within the time targets set;
  • don’t loom or lean;
  • speak to them at their level or lower;
  • encourage non-verbally: eyes, face and gesture;
  • withhold your opinion or the ‘correct’ answer for as long as possible;
  • ask questions rather than provide answers;
  • use others’ answers as prompts for argument.