Saturday, June 1, 2013

Group Dynamics

I have written several blog posts this year about the idea of selecting group sizes that ensure student success.  I have experienced several struggles during various projects when limited tech resources have driven groups to be be larger than worked well for all students.  I have also seen the power of starting students working in pairs and then slowly over time allowing them to share and work in groups of three or four.  

Several weeks ago a second grade class indicated that they wanted to all work together, with the exception of a few students in the class, to create a Round Church from No End building materials.  Given my experience with larger group projects I was hesitant.  We talked about my concerns at a class meeting, but they all assured me that they wanted to try it.  

Students spent a class period working together with this common goal.  They talked, they disagreed,they built, they tore down and started over, they walked away in frustration only to be brought back by a classmate needing their help.  It was GREAT!  And it was not something I would have planned for the class.  The students energy, enthusiasm and spirit allowed them to work together in this large group. They had a common goal, not a common vision, and this drove them to compromise and collaborate.  I am not sure that I would create a whole class project unless students had this sort of 'buy in',  but I now realize that I need to continue to listen carefully to student ideas and let them try things even when my initial reaction includes concerns about the outcome!  I think it is in these moments that succeed or fail, we are learning---with choice and passion!

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