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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Group Activities

Group work is an essential quality for survival. We need to work as a family. We need to work together on teams and at work. We all work in groups in one form or another. Cooperation within the group is crucial for success. I have spoken about some specific academically oriented methods for successful group work in the classroom. There are hundreds of ways in which a teacher can use group strategies to enhance learning in the classroom. I will present just a few in this blog entry.

Team building can be fun and productive in creating the proper atmosphere for learning or doing something needed to be done. On this site, we find the classics, Pair-Share, All My Neighbors, and the Signature Game. In each of these exercises, the participants get to know each other in a quick and simple way. It can be fun too. The purpose is to be sure the members of a group, a class, a team know each other and some things about them that make being in the group more productive. Since they are in game format, they help everyone participate, even when an individual may be reluctant. These exercises are very much like calisthenics an athlete does before practice or a game. Each exercise helps each member of the group learn a little bit more about the other participants. In the end, each member comes to realize similarities of all the members, what they have in common, and what makes each unique. Once these exercises are done, the group should have a better understanding of each other and make working together much more fruitful and productive.

Jigsaw is a very powerful group activity for the classroom. When a class is working on the same project like a poem, a short story, a play, or a novel; the groups have the opportunity of interacting. It works this way. In each group each of the five members have a role. All groups have the same configuration. Then the members with the same assignment from each group meet as a group of "experts." After conferring the "experts" return to their original group to report. The power of this exercise is that the scholars have to work together in their "expert" groups and then report back to their "home" group. What this does for the scholars is to teach them how to problem solve, research, compromise, negotiate, and then to assimilate and report back. For the teacher, this exercise allows hir to observe all of this while still overseeing the quality and amount of work being assessed and produced. It is a great way to achieve "Guide by the Side, Not Sage on the Stage."

Teachers are constantly in search of Icebreakers, Warmups, Energizers, & Deinhibitizers. This website provides nearly 30 activities a teacher can use in hir classroom to stimulate the scholars. There are icebreakers for the beginning of the semester or the year. There are activities to revitalize the classroom. There are exercises to augment other classroom activities. There are methods to re energize the class on those sluggish days. In all activities, the teacher can use hir own class content. They provide a way to introduce some elements of Multiple Intelligences into the class work. There are many great and various tools here for assisting teachers in their classrooms.

Reading provides a lot of Strategies for Reading Comprehension. This is a great repository for classics like KWL, Compare and Contrast charts, Graphic organizers, Column Notes, Story Maps and many more. The instructions and charts for each activity are clear and printable. The teacher uses hir own content. These activities augment what the teacher is doing and provides some graphic assistance in presenting material in hir class.

The above sites and many others provide teachers with a variety of activities useful in helping the teacher make the classroom a more powerful learning environment. Have fun.

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