Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Diving Deeper into the Human Body Systems (Day 1 of 4) - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Wrapping Up

 

Finding a partner or group to work with for group projects can be stressful for some students.  At the same time, I do not like to encourage individual work by either struggling students or by high achieving students because there are lessons to be learned in each group scenario that can help students push through struggles and find skills they didn't know they had or needed to cultivate.  Here is a list of the strategies I employ to delicately help shape group formation so that each student will have a positive experience.  

1.  For a student who wants to work with other partners when all of them are not particularly strong in the area of work completion, I find that it is best to allow the partnership but to discuss with them very bluntly what you have observed from the context of way that you can help them do their best.  Students often really appreciate this acknowledgement of what is typically a life long struggle for better organizational skills and will have some ideas about things that work in terms of support, and more importantly, what absolutely doesn't work.  I take notes on these things, suggest a plan, get the team's approval, and then follow through by doing what I said I would do to help them.

2.  For a high achieving student that does not want to work with anyone, I stress that this project is intended for a team because it is too much work to do alone within their very busy academic schedule. I ask them what has been the frustration in the past, listen, ask who they think might be a good fit for them, and then add to that list of potential partners with my own suggestions based upon what they have said and what I know about my students.  I then offer to help navigate that introduction/grouping and follow up with the student throughout the project process.

3.  For a quiet student who seems shy or a bit lost in class, I suggest potential partners and offer to help make introductions or initiate that conversation.  In some instances, I may have a strong group with one open spot and if I know these are supportive kids, I will front load them with my request for a partner addition and when they agree to it (which they always do because of the way I have asked them, highlighting the positive aspects of the grouping and my appreciation of their willingness to work with other students in a positive way), I make the group introductions.

4.  For the student who is often absent, making for stressful partnernships under mysterious circumstances, I ask the student if they will be able to make their commitments to the group.  If they say yes, they typically follow through.  If they cannot or say yes but then are absent immediately after, I approach them and see what think will be the best alternate plan. Students tend to be quite honest and revealing in their answers and by asking them, whatever alternative situation we agree upon does not feel punitive or negative because they were given the opportunity to input their ideas without being pressured to discuss the reasons behind their absences.  And if they choose to share that information, that just gives me even more background so that I can plan out the best way for this student to learn while he is present in the room, no matter how often that turns out to be over the course of the school year.

5.  If I know that a class will have one group of three due to an odd numbered class student total, I determine ahead of time which project idea will be reserved for the group of three so that I don't have the simplest topic being done by three people while a more challenging one has only two students.  This tends to help shift the number of requests to be the triad group.

6.  I always ask each student group to check in with me before the end of class so that I can get a quick sense of who is not yet paired up with partners.  This also allows me to come  up with potential pairings before calling up those students on their own to talk about who they might want to work with of the people still looking for partners and to suggest my picks.

7.  Whenever I introduce a new project and ask students to find partners, I always mention the names of absent students.  Oftentimes, a student in the class will ask to work with an absent student after that announcement rather than having all of the absent students partnerless when they return, adding to their stress level regarding make up work responsibilities.

I hope this list helps!  I can't wait to hear what other ideas to add to it based upon your experiences and successes guiding students into great project collaborations!

  How to Support Students Who Struggle to Form Group Partnerships
  Adjustments to Practice: How to Support Students Who Struggle to Form Group Partnerships
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Diving Deeper into the Human Body Systems (Day 1 of 4)

Unit 10: Unit 10: Human Anatomy & Physiology
Lesson 5 of 9

Objective: SWBAT discuss each body system in depth through the creation of and interaction with student created presentations

Big Idea: Allow your students to be the teachers during this engaging lesson series of student created human body system presentations!

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