I'm thinking of piloting a form of this with my AP class this year for a few reasons:
- Many of these students are college bound & could benefit from seeing beneficial collaboration in action
- The skills needed to be a successful member of a study group aren't always in line with the social goals of being in a study group and it's better to learn these lessons early
- There is often nothing better for someone struggling than to learn from another student or (even better) have to explain to another student
This is a group norms contract that I drafted a few years ago (read: that I spliced together from lots of other wonderful sources and thinkers- feel free to claim some credit if you were one of them. I honestly made don't remember my exact inspirations). I meant to to use it with my blended learning class to build online study groups for message boards and group discussions. It didn't pan out as we had some trouble with our learning management system, but this is what I'd like to use to get my kids started.
Here are my ideas:
- Day 1: Give kids a questionnaire to identify with whom they work well in the class (emphasis on that these may not be the same people with whom they hang out on Saturday nights). Teacher forms groups based on these answers and class observation.
- Day 2: Give students a group task with pre-assigned groups to see how they function and re-assess. Tweak members if needed.
- Day 3: Ask students to think about their individual strengths and areas for growth in group work (to be prepared for a classroom discussion the next day, where they'll be filling out this chart from the document)
- Day 4: Share specific expectations about study groups with student, including having time to collaborate in class on various tasks, online discussions of homework problems and content, responsibilities for review tasks to their group and the class as a whole, and a judgement free zone where you can discuss content freely and help each other. Then, have students work together to fill out the group norms contract. As groups are working, teacher would have time to meet with each group to make sure they are clear on expectations.
I need to come up a more specific layout of group tasks and responsibilities, but finding this old contract lying in my forms has gotten my wheels turning. Last year I saw the kids in AP who formed study groups thrive and the kids who didn't struggle alone, often trying to break into an established study group before it was too late. I am hoping to build that "math family" from early in the year so students always believe they have a team helping them succeed.
Has anyone done this with wild success or wild failure? Anything you've learned from working in study groups yourself? Share, critique, and brainstorm!