How to Improve Group Work in 2 Minutes!

A Simple Strategy to Improve Group Work Performance!

I believe in the power of simple practices and that as teachers we tend to overcomplicate a lot of things. That's why I wanted to share this little, no-prep strategy that has really helped my students improve their group work.

And this strategy to make group work more effective takes just two-three minutes!

Here’s how to set “Group Work Goals”

  1. After you explain the instructions for the task, hand out a post-it or scrap paper to each student.

  2. Task students with writing down one 'group work goal’ for themselves. I encourage them to think about something they tend struggle with during group work activities and to create a goal to improve on that. This should take two minutes at most.

  3. Next, have students share their goals with their group members. This will hold students’ more accountable and it encourages the team to support each other during the activity.

  4. At the end of the activity, have students do a quick reflection on the post-it. Did they improve? If so, how? If not, what is getting in the way? I love to have a few students share out with the whole class so they can learn from each other. It communicates that its okay if they are struggling and that learning is a process!

Simple right? But that's why it works

When students create their own goals they are much more likely to meet those goals. And guess what? Chances are most students will choose a goal very similar to the one you would have given them since they know what they struggle with, but simply by empowering students to choose their goal, you are letting them own the process.

How to handle an off-task student:

Its five minutes into the activity and Shauna is off-task, disruptive, or walking around the room. Call her over to your desk with her post-it. Rather than scold her- ask her what her goal was for the group work. You might respond, "Oh, well I notice you are not really on-task and helping your team right now. Is there anything I can do to help you with your goal because I want you to do your best?" 

Chances are she will decline your help and she’ll go back to her team with renewed focus on meeting her goal.

More than that, you have just demonstrated that you are not just the authority figure in the room looking to administer punishments and catch them being ‘bad’, but a partner and mentor who is working to help them meet their goals.

Though it might seem only subtly different than the typical scenario where the teacher calls Shauna to her desk, asks her why she is off task, and tells her to get back to work and do better, the difference in the effect it has on Shauna is huge. 

Thats why I think “Group Work Goals'' is such a powerful strategy.  Doing this all year will help students understand that in your room they are empowered to set their own goals and you are there to help them be successful.

And that means everything to students. ✨

I hope you give “Group Work Goals” a shot sometime this week and I would love to hear back from you when you do use this strategy! If you come up with a cooler name for it or if you have a similar strategy that you use to improve group work, I’d also love to hear it!

And if you are looking for some powerful PD to get even your most reluctant learners more engaged, join my course, “Make History Engaging, Exciting, and Empowering!” Its self-paced and teaches so many other no and low-prep strategies that get students doing interesting work and finding more value in learning history!

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