Teaching Group Work: Building Student Collaboration and Agency (Transcript)
Kathy Murphy: We're going to pretend the whole class is one group, and we want to see how well you work together. You need to get in line by the day you were born, without talking.
Dan St. Louis: Because we teach group work to our students, they know they have a piece to contribute.
Kathy Murphy: No words.
Dan St. Louis: They know how to use their resources in other people and they know how to build ideas together.
Kathy Murphy: Now we're going to say the day you were born.
Kathy Murphy: Whoo-hoo, we got it!
Dan St. Louis: We are an all honors curriculum here, which means we're providing high level instruction from grades seven to twelve. Given that, however, we have entirely heterogeneous classes where you've got kids of all different previous levels of achievement.
Kaitlin Kelley: At University Park, you're going to see group work from grades seven all the way to grades twelve. We start in seventh grade with roles and responsibilities.
Kathy Murphy: You want to make sure you understand what are the responsibilities of each of the roles that you've been given.
I don't think group work comes naturally. I think it's something that they have to learn.
Student: One plus eight.
Today we were learning about integers, positive and negative numbers. Now it's time to take the basic skills and transfer it into real world solving problems.
The person who's the questioner, you will come up and get the problem, because you have to read the problem to your group partners.
For this particular activity, we give roles. There would be a questioner, a summarizer and a clarifier.
The clarifier will set up the problem, make sure each group member agrees with the plan.
One side of the paper that I gave them would be prompts, so that it helps them take away that nervousness because it says, oh, you have to say something.
If you're not sure how to start the conversation, if you want to say something, use those sheets.
Student: You're the clarifier.
Student: Oh, these papers--
Student: I'm the summarizer.
J.J.: Teachers want us to like, learn with each other, so we can all know like, what different ways you can solve the problem, and not just like, the teacher's way. I personally really love that, because I like to like, experience, like how other people solved the problem, so see if I can have a strategy for that too.
Kathy Murphy: Is it done by the end of the year? By no means, no, no, no. I mean, it's a struggle day in and day out for sure, but they definitely get better at it.
Dan St. Louis: We're not just pushing desks together and thinking, that's group work now, but really giving challenging assignments that require multiple voices, that require people to have a role in building knowledge together.
Kaitlin Kelley: And so we built it that we. We'll kind of pull away some of the scaffolds as the kids get older, and then you can really see them working together in a collaborative way.
Student: So it's seven point five by seven point five.
Student: We're making a polynomial cube. He's working on like the bigger box so we can put things in and we're working on the smaller pieces for now.
Shannon Hammond: We're starting a unit on polynomials.
It will be similar to what you did here.
When you're dealing with polynomials, you're dealing with dimensionality, so they're all building eight shapes with an outer box. Hopefully, to tie together the symbolic and the spatial.
Student: Which one do you want to do?
Student: A seven point five.
Student: By seven point five cube?
Student: All right, then I'll do one of the twelve point fives by seven point five.
Shannon Hammond: A good group work problem, it's got to be so big that you need your partner to help decide on the organization, to try this while you're trying something related to it.
Trinity: Starting this project I was really confused because this class is fairly difficult. But I find that when you go to other classmate, it helps tremendously.
Shannon Hammond: Then they can be talking to the other groups around them and seeing maybe a different way to tweak their process.
Trinity: So what he did was, he came up here and drew each box that this group had.
Although we're in our own individual groups, it's very helpful to go to another group and ask questions. When you finally get to the answer, it sticks with you longer than the teacher just telling you the answer.
Oh, I see.
Dan St. Louis: The world, more and more, relies on people being able to work together, to collaboratively solve problems.
Student: Hannah could do counting how much money we have and then you all can do how much everything is in total.
Dan St. Louis: You know, I have kids come to me every single day. I had four seventh graders come to me the other day. They want to do a bake sale to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Student: So all the money we make in the bake sale is going to go towards this charity.
Dan St. Louis: So you've got some people on board already to help out and you're going to stay after today?
Student: Yeah, but they just need to know when they have to have it by, so that--
Dan St. Louis: They see the value in teamwork.
Well, you can go put Friday on that announcement.
And we'll go on Friday.