Friday, January 4, 2013

Group Work and Christmas Trees

Group work is increasingly "pushed" in schools

I've sat through countless in-services as a teacher, and many of them "pushed" teachers to add group work to their list of activities. As far as educational theories go, the need for student collaboration and general cooperation is needed, thus group work. The reasons for teachers using group work are plentiful:

1. Students will experience different personalities and methods of learning from peers.
2. Students will learn how to get along with others and develop tolerance.
3. Students will work with others at a job some day.
4. Students will realize satisfaction from completing a large activity rather than a smaller one alone.

Alas, group work often fails, as this meme floating around Pinterest illustrates:

Students struggle with group work because students do not play fairly. Teachers feel bad about giving different grades to individual students in each group. Some students cannot work after hours or travel to other students' homes. Parents are frustrated. The entire situation lacks control. Even though teachers know students need skills acquired from group work, there are countless reasons why teachers do not assign group work.

The skills are still important, and teaching them at home may help the situation teachers face. Today I took down our two Christmas trees. The kids immediately clambered on the plastic containers and dumped out boxes. I almost banished them to the basement playroom, when I stood back and put it in perspective. As the "group leader" I established some rules:

1. Many ornaments and decorations are glass, so we must be careful.
2. Do not climb on the trees.
3. Do not run.
4. Everyone will have a job, and that is each person's focus.

This is the box of kid ornaments for their tree.
Overall, the process was a success. Just like with students, I repeated the rules a few times and had to halt the process because Ty or Za *forgot* to be safe and soft with glass. They worked together and neatly arranged their Christmas keepsakes. I encouraged them and applauded their efforts.

I'm very glad I did not send them to the basement to take down the trees alone, like I almost did.

Is group work a skill that needs taught at home? Should the basics be taught at home? Would this encourage more group work in schools?

I'm on Pinterest! <meta name="p:domain_verify" content="0d63dd02231247c581d950bb33e1eebf"/>