Saturday, August 18, 2012

FOUND and INDEPENDENT GROUP WORK


I found my prescriptions!!! WOOHOO!!!

Clearly, it is time to get Miss Smith to come and visit my bedroom and home study to make it as functional as my workplace is.  

There has been a lot happening at school this week.  So, I want to share. 


You can see in the picture... not much.  Sorry about that.  But hopefully you can tell that these charts are student produced.  I am really proud of them, because my class has really struggled with independent group work this year.  A few times, I planned independent activities where groups of 3-5 students "worked" together to answer questions or complete a task.  The plan was for the lesson to be wrapped up with a quick class discussion involving each of the small groups sharing their "work" with the class.  Each group was given a different task so we were not going over "answers" four or more times.  But still, it didn't work so well.  

In the real world of my classroom, some groups would complete the task, others would not.  The answer sheets/ anchor charts that the students were to supposed to complete would be overfilled with silly responses or have two words written so small that it was impossible to read.  

Over the past few weeks, I have had a few "breakthroughs" with my classes.  I have really pushed the positive as well as having concrete and consistent consequences for negative behaviours.   

After some individual work on Tuesday, the class divided into pairs.  I did end up with one group of three.  I gave each pair a piece of A3 chart paper and a few coloured pens.  At the top of their chart paper I wrote the question/s that I wanted answered.  I then told them to write big and fill up the page because we were planning on putting them up in the classroom to help us with our next assessment task.  While the charts are not perfect and our wrap up conversation at the end of the lesson was ratty, I was really happy at the end of the lesson.  I think it worked better this time for a number of reasons which are listed below.  

1.         The students and I have FINALLY made “friends” and I don’t say this because I am unable to make friends with my students.  I say it because when I only see my students twice a week for 70 minutes, it takes so much longer to get through to them. 
2.      My expectations were very clear.  The students knew exactly HOW to complete the activity (write big and neatly and fill up the page so we can display this).  This seems elementary, but it wasn't until today that I realised I hadn't been quite so explicit in the past (probably because I was losing them and rushed through my instructions). 
3.     I didn’t try to give the directions to the whole class.  I spoke to each group one at a time.  I was able to read the question with them and check their understanding.  They began giving me responses and had my reassurance before beginning. 
4.     More able students were given more questions to help keep them focussed. The less able students were able to work with supportive friends and revised concepts taught in class. 
5.      Students who worked better alone were given the opportunity to do so with an appropriate task.
6.      I moved among the groups constantly without needing to stay with a specific group for too long.  I try to do this all the time, but it doesn't always work out that way.  

I am getting in the groove with my students.  They are finally getting used to me.  It is working.  They are learning together.  It is exciting stuff.  :) 


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