Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I KNEW This.....Group Work Doesn't Work

In a post from an educator in the Land Down Under, Education Watch brings us this: (Also linked via Joann Jacobs)


This article states something that I have believed all along. That students seated in groups do not work well in many classroom situations. The article says:

"Pupils work harder and are less disruptive if they sit in rows rather than in groups around tables" ..... children spent up to twice as long concentrating on their work when seated in rows and teachers found it easier to praise them and to refrain from disapproval."

Another study made at a school for children with behavioral difficulties found that on task time doubled in rows and disruptions were reduced to a third of their former frequency.

EDUCATION WATCH noted that the article was originally from the "Times Educational Supplement", reprinted in the "Sydney Morning Herald", Feb. 16th., 1982 p. 12.

I generally do not like group work in class. Not much gets done. In the Junior High, too many students, IMO, do not have the self-discipline necessary to avoid the playing around, non-topic chatter and wasting time that group seating seems to promote. And, when it comes to taking tests and quizzes, if students are clustered at tables of four or five students, too many of them will cheat on their quiz/test by copying answers from their tablemates.

Does this mean I do not do group work? No. I usually assign at least three group projects per year. For the first one, usually close to the beginning of the school year, the kids get to pick their partners. This usually does not work well for the majority of my students, because they are making bad decisions on with whom to work and their project grades reflect it. I view this as more of a lesson on making choices than the academic learning that goes with the project and, purposefully, I make it a class activity that will not kill anyone's grades due to really screwing up this one activity. From then on, I usually pick the groups and depending on the individual students involved, will let them work outside the class with students (friends) that are in other class periods. Parents have been supportive of this method over the years and for those parents who complain about the grade their child earns on their first group project, agree with me about the decision making aspect of the project and often will request that their child NOT be allowed to work with "those other kids" in the future.

unfortunately, it is the parents of these "other" kids that are rarely in the picture. But that is another post.

I also will have my students work in pairs or threes for some activities, such as 'Think - Write - Pair - Share' activities or working on reading comprehension (reciprocal Teaching). Those partnerships are usually 'assigned' in that their partner is someone whom they sit near.

OK, enough blogging for now. I am procrastinating grading Tests. You teachers out there know HOW that is. Next week is out first three days (Tues. Wed. and Thur.) of State Testing (CAT, CST's) and short class periods. Ugggh.

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