Saturday, September 01, 2012

Definite Value in Students Working in Small Groups and Pairs in the Classroom

Do you take advantage of cooperative learning? 
As a middle school teacher, I've learned that small groups and pairs both offer so much! That being said, I even let them pair up and do various reading/writing assignments together, in class rather than at home. In this manner, critical thinking and  applying reading/writing skills tend to be more fun for them---less "work" in their minds anyway.
By implementing small group tasks, I'm also eliminating chances that a student goes home to no help or no art supplies needed to create that brilliant something in his/her brain. (But, yes, when it is outside of class and individually, my kids know upfront that they can come to me for materials if they need them.) Additionally, it's very TRUE that kids learn from each other, and when they pair up for any assignment, they learn even more from one another without even realizing it. That's invaluable in itself.

Snapshots of Partner/Group Assignments in Class:
partner/group assignments
A Smith Innovative Connections Middle School Language Arts Literature Groups
small groups come together to share, students end up sharing/gaining multiple perspectives

These are a few instances of small group activities "After Reading" assignments for The Call of the Wild. Students are easily engaged in discussion. After completing group tasks, we usually share with the whole class, which is why I love the big bulletin board paper! I go through so much of that stuff. Throw out the BIG PAPER and the MARKERS, and they will work! :) It's another way to get them moving some, as they have to get materials, many stand as they are writing/drawing and sharing...and, if you have a block schedule like we do, then you understand their need to move around some! 
When small groups come together to share, students end up sharing/gaining multiple perspectives, depending upon the task, about novels, story elements, inferences, etc. It's a quick way to informally assess comprehension too!
What is your take on small groups/pairs and cooperative learning activities? No matter the subject, share what you like/dislike about it!


  1. I teach high school biology at the Freshmen level and I love to use cooperative groups! The lab activities that we do totally lend themselves to partner/group work, but I use it in class as well. Occasionally I have a group that can't stay on task, and in that case after fair warning I separate them and have them work alone. I don't make it seem like a punishment, because it really isn't. I simply tell them that since they're choosing to talk instead of work, they've lost the privilege to work together and must finish the task alone. There are some students who just can't seem to handle that sort of activity. Sometimes if it's a group of 4, I'll break it up into 2 groups of 2 and sometimes that helps.

    But I definitely think the benefits outweigh the occasional discipline issue, especially for those students who CAN handle it.

    Thanks for posting this!

    1. Debbie,
      I couldn't agree more about benefits outweighing discipline issues...thanks for writing! You present some clever tips for other readers! Thanks!
      Ann Marie

  2. This is a nice topic and post. As teachers, we are often in groups at inservices and we talk some but learn so much. They wouldn't teach teachers this way if it didn't work. So kids who can move, talk, and end up with memorable anchor charts with visible learning are certainly learning more than they can on their own!


I love reading comments! Let me know you stopped by my blog!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...