Next message: Roz Iasillo: "Re: [Teacher-talkinquiry] Question on grouping for inquiry learning"
I have found that consistently grouping students at random helps. The first few times it is exactly what you describe. However, the groups change with every investigation. You can group them by randomly passing out a piece of candy to each student and having all the Snickers at one table, all the Peppermint Patties at another, etc. Provide only the number of types of candy as you want groups. You can also assign numbers and have all the 1's at a table, all the 2's at a table. Assigning jobs is only half the battle. The task assigned must be something that REQUIRES a group. The academic rigor must be of such a nature that the students couldn't do it by themselves...or it would be very difficult to do by oneself.
I also tell the students that scientists do not always like each other, but they work together to discover new ideas and come up with new questions. I think it is important for students to work with students of differing ability levels. This is preparing them for the real world. Even students who may be "slower" than another student has his or her gifts. I hope this helps. I have used this in a school with "at-risk" students as well as a school with very supportive parents and competitive, gifted kids. Good luck!
Science Specialist (K-8)
Richland School District One
Office of Curriculum & Standards
Waverly Administration Center
1225 Oak Street
Columbia, SC 29204
>>> firstname.lastname@example.org 10/31/03 01:43PM >>>
I'm taking "Learning Science Through Inquiry" and would like some help with
this topic. Anyone taking the course, or anyone who has suggestions that
work well: I'd love to hear your suggestions!
I have sort of passively allowed students to choose groups in most quick lab
activities I do, because assigning them groups for activities tends to bring
about a rash of "She's not helping" or "He keeps fooling around:"
misbehavior or laziness, and then resultant tattling. I have yet to hear
anyone describe a perfect way of assigning groups so that the students
motivated to do well and get A's don't feel frustrated by those who are less
motivated or simply not as good at producing the school-approved products.
I would like help with this! I've tried suggestions offered in several
cooperative learning books (assigning jobs to each kid, etc.), but haven't
found them particularly successful at overcoming the social problems caused
when children have to work with others of differing abilities or
motivational levels. Speaking to parents, I often hear the same
frustration: that their child gets frustrated with group projects because
they aren't allowed to do anything, or they end up doing everything. Note
that I teach 8th grade, where social "cliques" are rampant, and also that I
teach in a grade-sensitive district where it's all about the A's!!
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