Friday, May 20, 2016

Tips for Organising Group Work

There are a few things to remember when you are implementing group work.  Many teachers ask students to work in groups to complete an activity but often, collaboration is not seen.  How do we ensure that group work is implemented correctly?

1   Determine the learning objective that you want students to achieve.  Ensure that the group activity you are organising plays a role towards the learning objective and not just a mere activity.

2  Share the purpose of the activity and model the target language or product if the class is weaker.
This means telling the students exactly what they have to do or showing what their final product might be like, allowing some room for creativity.  Use the quiet signal to get the attention of the students before giving instructions.  After the instructions, ask for feedback through the traffic lights.

3  Determine a time limit for each activity to provide some competition and suspense.  Stop the activity by using the quiet signal.  You can provide more time if you want at the end of the time limit.  Often, I see teachers allowing too much time for one activity and students become bored and start their own mini party.

4  While students are doing their work, monitor each group by moving around.  Do not start to interfere the minute you sense something is wrong.  Prompt the group to solve the problem.  Ask Three Before Me would be a good principle for students.

5  After the group activity has been completed, it is important to decide on how you want the reporting to be done.  The usual senario is the teacher asks each group to come up to present their work.  After the second or third group, the whole class will lose interest as they feel that they are going through the motion.  I would recommend doing a carousel feedback or gallery walk.  Groups put up their work then  circulate around the room and read each other’s answers, They can add their own comments in response. I would normally move around with my post-it notes and give comments.

6  Give a closure by summarizing the main points that have been presented.  You can also ask students to do a reflection of their work and what they have learnt for the day.

7  Always reflect on the group activity afterward.  Reflect on what worked and what could be improved.  

1  Students have nothing to say in a listening and speaking activity
    Provide more help in the target language.  Students who are weak might be unable to
    produce anything.  Give more notes or help with pictures.

2   Students are unhappy with their group members.
     Spend some time doing team-building activities and ice-breakers before introducing serious