It is easy to list all of the reasons why group work is so valuable to incorporate into lessons. However, it is really important for us to plan group work carefully in order to make sure that the tasks are accessible to all pupils and that the outcomes are measurable both for us and for our students. Group work is easy to use in all subjects and for a wide range of topics, but it is also easy for group work to be ineffective, and leaving us feeling as though we need to re-teach that topic.
Here are a few suggestions about how we can maximise the power of group work:
- State the outcomes of the activity very clearly at the start; this gives pupils a clear sense of purpose and means that pupils are able to measure their own progress during the activity.
- Provide a checklist of tasks for pupils to work through.
- provide pupils with a clear role within the group; it means that all pupils are accountable and all have to contribute in a different way.
- Provide a mixture of tasks within group work; this helps with differentiation.
A few ideas for group work activities:
- Structured discussions with pupils working through a list of questions or prompts based on an article/book/other resource.
- Pupils are divided into groups and each group focuses on a different topic. One ‘envoy’ from each group moves around to the other groups to teach others in the class. They then return to their individual group where they are taught by others about the different topics in the room.
- Pupils peer assess other groups’ group and decide how far other groups have met the class criteria. This works well with presentations, posters and pieces of written work.
I’ll be discussing these ideas, and more, at the next TeachMeet on Friday 16th March. Hope to see you there!