Group Work - 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 …
||Stimulus for group talk
|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
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.