Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pair & Group Work: the importance of Structure & Consistency

When I was told that I had been picked to attend this conference I was happy, and thought that it would be an opportunity to pick up some new techniques to use in the classroom. What I didn't realize was that it was going to help me implement strategies in my room that I had been struggling with since I started to teach. I knew how important it was to get children interested, and had been told what to do to get them involved. Every once and awhile I would try to use group work. I would work diligently on the lesson, and when the day would come it seemed to work okay for some classes and not at all for others. I was starting to get convinced that it could only work for some teachers and not for everyone. Although I knew it was important I wasn't sure how to get there. I had a good relationship with my students so I couldn't understand why everything seemed to go chaotic when they interacted with each other. The difference with this conference was they didn't just tell you, they showed you. I, like my students, needed to see the theory in practice, and not just once but many times. When I left after the three days I was excited, rejuvenated, and a little apprehensive. Luckily my teammates were willing to try anything which is very important as we collaborate on our lesson plans. From the very first day we have been using pair & group work. We have not just told them what we expect, but we have shown them. As they do work with each other daily it is starting to become part of their routine. Although I am still working to prefect the process I am convinced that everyone including myself can implement these strategies in their classrooms. This makes the learning environment more enjoyable for the student, and the teacher.


  1. I completely agree with providing modeling and structure during group work. It takes consistency and students have to know what you expect of them before they work in groups. It will definitely help your students that your team is consistent with implementing the strategies in their classroom. My lessons often involve cooperative learning and there are days it works better than others. However, the benefits of students learning and working with eachother is worth all the planning and time involved.

  2. Truly establishing routines and structure was the highlight of the first couple of school days, but of course they have to be revisited here and there as we go along. With the addition of new lab tables to my science classroom, students have been able to pair and square on the regular with much more ease than in past years. In fact, we just completed a two-day partner project yesterday called Cell Analogy Posters. Thanks iTune Conference for all of your tips on handling cooperative learning pairs and groups!!

  3. I agree this year is off to a great start! I have my classroom setup to where students are sitting in a group setting. They know what my expectations and are learning to be responsible for their student work. My students work in groups or either with a partner quite often. My groups are different than the way I did it last year, last year I would just clump them together. I gave my students the “like me not like me” survey on the first day of school out of the strategy book we received. I have grouped students according to the likes or dislikes which seems to be working. I also am big on making sure each student in the group has a specific role/task, I have found that holding each one accountable, lessens one student doing all the work.