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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Nick's picture

How do other teachers manage the fair distribution of work in collaborative projects? This year will be my second year teaching year 4 (9 year olds) and I constantly struggle with this issue. I would love some feedback

John S. Thomas's picture
John S. Thomas
First & Second Grade Teacher/Adjunct faculty Antioch University New England, former Elementary Principal

Nick, Do you mean physical distribution of completed work or distribution of work during the project. The former is answered by Gaetan and here is some ideas for the latter.

I have found that when doing collaborative work with students, it is important to have clearly defined roles so one student can't take over a situation or let go of too much responsibility. It also depends on the age and classroom/school culture established. For some projects I have specific jobs for my 1st and 2nd graders for collaborative work. The Getter gets supplies for the group, the Reader reads the information necessary for the work, the Writer writes, and Starter is the manager and makes sure everyone is doing their job. The Starter also fills in for an absent student. There are some students at this young age that can only do collaborative work with these types of roles clearly defined.

That being said, there are many times we don't follow these roles and just do free flowing collaborative work. However this is after we have established the fact that we have worked on how to support other students by never telling anyone the answer, but instead we lead them to it by asking questions, guiding, and providing support. This is a major thread throughout our classroom work. The kids quickly understand we have to make sure everyone is learning, everyone is doing their part, and no one is taking over a situation (including the teacher!) I do this by having students lead discussions, ask questions, and often times take over teaching the class. Even on a first grade level students can begin this process of learning about collaboration.

To further enhance collaborative work I have a some cards we pull out to prepare us to do group work. The cards say: communication + collaboration + effort = quality work. We go over each card and what it means on a first and second grade level. We talk about how our group work must involve all three parts to produce quality work. I have found that these cards and the specific job roles help these young children have concrete things to focus on during their difficult small group work.

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The Intensified Socratic Seminar Assessment Guide

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