How do we Work Together? Creating Group Norms

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SWBAT create a plan to work together to discuss complex ideas in historical fiction.

Big Idea

Students are used to setting their own goals and timelines for finishing books. They need a set of norms to help make their group work effective.

Introduction and Modeling

10 minutes

Once, I had the opportunity to take an extended trip to Vietnam. Part of the trip was to be spent alone and the latter part of the trip would be with my husband and his family. I used the time alone to visit a few interesting places and then revisited my favorite places with my husband. I realized then how much more I got out of the experience when I shared it with someone else. 

I tell this story to students to explain that although the places we go in a story are exciting and interesting, sometimes we can have a richer experience when we share it with others. This lesson will support students in creating expectations for making an effective book club group.

In order to have an effective group, students need to make sure each person is involved and that each person is working together to challenge each other. I think about an effective group I was part of and think of expectations we had to make that group work well together. 

When I think of the step team that I was part of I remember that each of us practiced on our own and then we helped each other when we were together. Those expectations are good ones for a group.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

After I guide them to think about their own experiences working in a group, I ask them to write down possible expectations that those groups had that might apply to their new historical fiction groups. 

After a few minutes, I ask students to share their ideas while I write some of them down. A few examples are, "We all should participate", "we listen to each other", and "we all agree on a decision". 

I challenge them to think about how they are going to challenge each other. For example, they will each bring a question to the meeting.

After, the share out, I ask students to meet in their groups to come to an agreement and a constitution of sorts based on the expectations we talked about. 

Group Work

10 minutes

After they create their group norms, I ask them some guiding questions that they will need to answer before/after each group meeting.

  1. How many pages are each member going to read before the next book club meeting?
  2. What should we talk about at our meeting?
  3. What kind of notes should we bring to the meeting?

I allow each group to discuss and decide on each question, then they go off to read independently.


5 minutes

To close, students share their group norms. They share, with the class, what they decided to be called (if they chose a name) and some of the most important norms that they are going to follow. 

Students share things like:

  • Listen to each other
  • Agree on how many pages to read and don't read on
  • Record notes using sticky notes
  • Each meeting has a new leader

After each group has shared, I reiterate the importance of following the group norms so that everyone in the group knows what is expected and feels supported as they participate in the group.