Basim Hanoune November 18, 2020 Math Worksheets
After teaching for 12 years, the first thing that I must admit is that I never had much success with grouping students for math. Whenever I attempted this in my early years, chaos would erupt, and I ended up with a room full of racket and off task students.
However, in our school district, the constant pressure of individualized accommodations for students not achieving grade level material spurred me to make groups effective in my classroom no matter what.
I felt that through the use of groups, I would be able to create a smaller setting where students could work with others who are achieving at about the same proficiency level. This way the activity I assigned for that group would be within their ability range and they would not feel much pressure being faced with a task that was out of their grasp.
Keys to Success with Groups
The most important step is to make sure you teach the students your expectations for group work time. Teach them exactly how they are supposed to transition into their groups, how they are expected to begin the activity, the volume level they should maintain, and how they will transition out of groups at the end of the work period.
Planning is very important to have success with groups. Planning which students will be in each group, the total number of groups to have in your classroom, and what activities each group will complete. These are all important topics to address with careful consideration. Without an effective plan, you will soon find the stability of each group crumble, and the noise level rise all around you.
Keep in mind also that group time isn't an opportunity for students to struggle learning new material, unless you the teacher are working with that group to instruct them.
Generally groups provide the opportunity for students to review specific standards/concepts that they've learned and have already had practice time to digest the material.
To make groups more effective and enjoyable, the activity should ideally be engaging and somewhat entertaining. Granted once in awhile you will need to give the standard review worksheet, but for the most part if you plan an activity that engages the whole group to work together, the experience will be much more meaningful.
For example, say you are working with adding and subtracting decimals. Instead of assigning the group to complete a page of problems from their math book, you can give the group a menu of food items and ask them to calculate how much a meal, drink and dessert would cost for one person, two, and a family of four. Advanced leveled groups can even calculate sales tax and gratuity amount.
Taking it a step further, groups can design their own menu of food, drinks, and dessert items, name their restaurant, and create a list of questions to then exchange with other groups.
As you can probably imagine, activities like these will get students much more actively engaged and that is one of the most important goals for students in groups during math time.
In summary, keep these three important points in mind:
1) Plan your groups carefully and make them flexible depending on their achievement level.
2) Teach students exactly how group procedure works and your behavior expectations. Don't assume they know this already.
3) Engaging Activities will be more meaningful and students will be more actively involved in the learning and get more out of it.
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