Today was group work day. We did something that I call Tic Tac KNOW. I divide the students into groups, and they create a poster using the Tic Tac Toe grid, displaying graphically images of what they have learned during the week. It’s a test prep activity.
Now there are a few cool tips to get this done quickly and efficiently. I’ve noticed that when my student teachers have tried to do group work, they make a lot of rookie mistakes that take up a lot of class time, and by the time the students start their work, most of the period is over. Here is how I put the groups together:
1. I have their names on index cards already.
2. I tell them, “When I call your name, remember your number.”
3. I shuffle the cards.
4. I begin pulling the cards out one at a time, calling the students’ names, and giving them a number.”Steven, you’re number one. Jimmy, you’re two. Jazmine, you’re three,” etc.
5. I write the number on the card somewhere. Someone always forgets what their number is.
6. Keep going until you reach the number of groups you want.
7. Once all the cards are numbered, then give the instructions on the assignment. If you do it before, then you’ll have to repeat it after the groups are made. Kids don’t remember things for too long.
8. Once all the instructions are given out, then I point to the areas of the room where the groups will gather. I’ll say, “Group one is over there. Group two is here.” etc.
9. Then I say, “Go.”
Some teachers learn about grouping students based on ability level or different skills. That takes too much time, and I’ve found that in each randomly created group, there will always be a mix of learning levels. It just happens. There are those times, however, when you’ll find a group that just can’t be together. That’s when you move kids around. The kids may complain, but who cares? You’re the teacher. You do what you have to do to make things work. Group work is nice, because it gives you as a teacher a break, while still allowing students to learn. Since it’s test prep, you don’t have to grade it. Once they are done with the posters, they’ll present it to the class, again giving students another review of what they need to know for the test.
Today’s Tip For New Teachers: The Day After – I always schedule a group work day after a big project is due. Finding time to grade projects is always going to be tough. You have to spend more time on big projects since it’s such a large part of their grade. Before, I would spend hours after school or during my prep grading those monsters projects. Now what I do is grade during the time the students are working in groups. I can still monitor and help, but for the most part, I can use that time to grade. Creative use of time is a skill that every teacher needs to learn. If they don’t they will burn out fast.
That’s all for now.
Here’s to lots of success in the classroom!