Thursday, March 29, 2012

Small Groups

Small group discussions can work very well, but you need to have quick, easy ways of grouping and re-grouping the students.

Here are some methods.

First, count the number of students in the class on the day.

Decide how many people you want in each group. Say you have 20 students in the group, and you want them in groups of five.

  1. DIY: “Divide yourself up into groups of five.” If you do it this way, they will sit with their friends. This works in some situations, but not in others.
  2. Count them off: Once all the students are in the room, count them off around the room: 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4, … etc. Sit all those numbered 1 together, all those numbered 2 together and so forth.
  3. Aye, Captain: Pick four “captains” and allow them to choose four others to join their group.
  4. Mixed abilities: Create lists of team members before you get into the room, based on ability. In each group, put one from the highest-achieving five, one from the lowest-achieving five, and three from the middle of the pack.
  5. Similar abilities: Rank the students, and then make up the groups by allocating them in order: the five top-achievers are in Group A, the next five in Group B and so on.
These are their Home Groups.

Beadle’s Jigsaw
So, you’ve grouped the students and set each group a different (but related) set of on-topic questions. Keep the list of questions short. They discuss the topic and questions in their Home Group.

While they are talking, go around, and put stickers on their upper arms. (You will have pre-prepared stickers that will sort the students into four Expert Groups, each of five students.) Stop the first discussion.
Direct the students to stand and re-group according to the stickers: all those in Expert Group 1 sit together, and so on.

In the Expert Group discussions, each student reports on discussions and conclusions from his or her Home Group.

If necessary, move them back into their Home Groups and begin all over again with a different topic.

To read more about Phil Beadle’s tips on teaching, read his book: Beadle, P. (2010). How to teach. UK & USA: Crown House Publishing.

No comments:

Post a Comment