Group work is an important part of learning and an integral part of student communities. Through group work students learn to solve problems collaboratively, learn about a diversity of problem-solving models and approaches, as well as understand the value of other students’ opinions and contribution.
There are a lot of way and approaches to practice group work. Here are the most important steps:
Step 1. Warm them up
A great way to start is to practice some warm-up activities. It will help your students understand what group work is, how it works and how it feels. Here are some exercises you can try:
- Tell your students to line up by height. See how quickly they will do. Discuss it in group afterwards.
- Tell them to line up by birthday. Record the time.
- Ask them to line up by their house number. Note the difference.
- Discuss something in group and ask them what they notice. This way they will learn to talk and listen to each other.
Step 2. Explain
Tell them how important it is to learn from somebody else’s experience. Give some examples from your own life. Share your stories. As them to share their stories.
Step 3. Roles
Depending on the subject and the task, you can give them roles. For example, the role of someone who asks questions, someone who analyzes, someone who clarifies, etc. In literature lessons, it can be someone who uses plagiarism checker online and someone who explores the web for free plagiarism sites.
Step 4. Problem
To work in groups, you need to create a good group-work problem. Here are the features of such problem:
- It is not possible to solve alone.
- It requires interdependent work of participants .
- The problem can be solved in a variety of different ways.
- The expectations for a group are higher than the expectations for individual work.
- With this problem, students can learn and teach each other.
Step 5. Making groups
When it comes to making groups for collaborative work, choose students with different strengths for one group. Help them understand that each of them has something to contribute.
Step 6. Assess
There are different methods and formats to assess the group work. Some of them are quizzes, quick check-ins. Ask them to grade their own work, and work of their group as a whole. Show that their feedback is appreciated.