In my NQT year, I was privileged to have the opportunity to meet with a teacher called Laura who was fantastic at groupwork. My head of department used to work at her school and felt that I could learn a lot from going to see her and finding out what it was that meant her groupwork lessons were so effective.
Although I took away many ideas, there is one in particular which I have incorporated into my teaching and this is what I would like to share with you today.
When pupils are working in groups, I explain at the start that I expect every member of the group (there are usually four) to be contributing, I expect them to communicate well with each other and I expect them to stay focused on the task.
In order to help them focus, I put a plastic cup on the groups’ table. During the lesson, I walk around the room listening in on their conversations and observing their work and interactions. If they are meeting my expectations, I put a counter in their cup.
At the end of the lesson, we count how many each group have and the pupils get rewarded in proportion to the number of counters (at first I used to just give rewards to the groups with the most counters, it depends on the class and the lesson). We have a ‘house point’ system at my school so I give out house points as a reward (they can buy chocolate in the reward shop for 10 house points so they love it!) and it seems to keep them on task.
I shared this idea at CPD at school and had really positive feedback from another teacher who tried it with a particularly chatty class – apparently it was the best lesson she’d had with them as they were eager for the counters so they stayed focused and worked hard. As it worked for her, I thought it might work for some of you 🙂
This story can also be found at http://staffrm.io/@mrsmartinmaths