Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Group Work Wendnesday

My focus this year is to find strategies to help my students work in successful groups.  I started off the school year by having my students work in groups on the very first day.  I had my students participate in the "broken circles" activity from this AWESOME book.

I have tried many of the activities in this book to teach students the importance of group norms but my favorite is the "broken circles" activity.

The template to make the circle pieces can be found in the book.  A fellow math teacher enlarged the circles and cut them out on card stock.  After doing the activity I want to use a thicker material like foam board so students can see the small gaps when their pieces don't fit perfectly.  

I use the following flipchart pages during the activity.
(Thank you Ms. Nelson for creating these for our department!)

I have students take a few minutes to reflect on the last slide's questions individually and then we discuss them as a class.  After we have discussed these questions I asked the groups to generate group norms for the class to follow based off of the circle activity. 

2011/2012 Group Norms:
Let everyone participate
Eye contact
Be patient 
Focus on the group (not just yourself)   * my favorite*
Be involved
Share Ideas

I loved what my students came up with and wanted to keep these norms in the front of their minds.  I created a bellringer the next day for students to vote on the most important group norm.  Here are the results:

Let everyone participate was thought to be most important - by a long shot!

I posted the group norms and ranked them from "most" important to "least" important according to my students.  I didn't actually number them because I wanted everyone to value all the norms.
**I don't know what I was thinking with the pink "O" and "M".. They were switched out for the purple the day after I took this picture.**

  I point to the group norms almost daily throughout group activities.  I also always remind students that THEY came up with the norms so they should be able to practice them in their groups.  I really like having group norms rather than rule or expectations.  I feel that although my students need frequent reminders they embrace the norms and take them seriously in their groups.  

Happy Wednesday! 


  1. Hi Liz:

    Thanks for the book recommendation!
    And I REALLY like your leaves-on-a-grid activity! (Did you use a pre-cut pattern or did they bring in leaves?) I can't wait to try out that one. Great idea!

    Glad you're here in BlogLand with us!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  2. Thanks Kim! I used both pattern and real leaves. I let my students choose their leaf but warned them that that more detailed leaves would be more difficult to plot. The pattern leaves seem to turn out better than the real ones. Hope this helps! Good luck!

  3. Thanks for the book recommendation!

    I have had students work in groups before, but never thought about creating norms because the groups would change all the time. I like this idea of creating norms that ALL the students would agree upon, then no matter what group they are in, the still have to follow the norms.

    Great idea!