Activity 5

Planning for Group Work

When planning small group work, it is important to consider WHY you want to use small groups, WHEN to use them and when not, and HOW you should use them.

The most effective approach is to work backwards. What are your desired learning outcomes for the pupils? Which collaborative processes and settings will best help them to achieve those outcomes?

First define your learning objectives. Then ask how those objectives might be furthered by work in small groups. Is the activity sufficiently challenging for group work to be justified? What kind of collaboration does the project require?

READ: Read these guidelines for the planning of collaborative group work. Read Chapter 3 ("Basic Elements of Cooperative Learning") from Learning Together and Alone by D.W. Johnson and R.T. Johnson (1994) in which further practical principles are considered.

WRITE: Using some of these principles to guide you, modify an existing scheme of work (covering at least three weeks of activity) in your own school or subject area so that it includes a significant amount of small group activity. Write a short commentary to accompany the scheme of work which explains the main changes you have introduced and why you chose to make them.

(Allow 60 minutes)