Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Group Work Wednesday: Must buy cups...

Today was my district's monthly school improvement half day.  One thing that I value on our half days is the time to meet with math teachers in the other middle schools.  Among many great ideas shared today, one teacher brought up her use of plastic cups for group work.  She uses the cups (red, yellow, and green) to allow kids to signal if they need teacher assistance.  The cups are not a new idea to me.  In fact, I have had a "group work cups" poster in my room for 3 years! Unfortunately I have never actually BOUGHT the cups to use with my groups.  It is difficult to find all three colors in the same size in grocery stores. Living in the great city of Chicago, you don't have too many convenient Party City stores to help you with needed paper/plastic goods.  Let's face it - I often just flat out forget that I need these plastic cups.

Since I have never gotten my act together with the cups my poster has had a meaningless spot on my wall.

The poor poster is currently blocked by my Agenda/Homework whiteboard.

I like the cup idea because it allows students to assess how they are doing on a problem.  This also allows me to not swoop in and save a group before they even know their solution is WAY off.  I like the idea that students have to acknowledge that something is wrong.  I think this will also help with my support teachers that tend to hover around a group and guide them through an entire problem.  It will be easier for me to advise them to "stay away" or "only listen" when the cup is green.   Lastly, this will hopefully help the 4 hands and shouting of "Ms. Gates!" when I am helping another groups. (will take some training)

I am excited to see if the cups strengthen my group work activities!

The quest for the cups is back on! (First stop - Target)


  1. I like this idea! I want to try this! Let me know where you find the cups! :)

  2. I have seen the cup idea as well. But, like you, I could never find the all the cups (or maybe i just didn't look hard enough). So I purchased a set of flip books (that work on the same premise) from I ended up purchasing 2 sets for around $24. My sixth graders love them.

  3. I found the cups! You can get all three colors at Party City (or probably any party supply store). It was about $12 for 72 cups - 24 of each color!

  4. Ha! Ha! Hate when I "swoop" prematurely! This is a great idea!