As you reflect on these activities from the video, think about how you might adapt and extend these ideas to your own teaching.
- Meylin Gonzalez's kindergarten class works together in a simulated assembly line to make bread. To develop understanding of the economic terms "needs" and "wants," Ms. Gonzalez draws a "T" chart, listing needs on one side and wants on the other. Next, students help each other as they work on their own individual charts of needs and wants.
- Oswaldo Rubio's fourth-grade class develops a set of questions to guide their group work, projects, and presentations on California missions. Mr. Rubio encourages the questions and roles to emerge organically, from the students themselves. The criteria for the research, projects, and presentations are specified beforehand. Students must gather information in pairs or in larger groups, sort out the tasks, complete parts of the projects, and determine who will make various parts of the presentation.
- As 12th-grade teacher Tim Rockey assigns groups to explore discrimination court cases, he uses a strategy called the "fishbowl." One group begins a discussion while the rest of the class observes. Mr. Rockey provides feedback for the fishbowl group to illustrate to the class how a group should work together and how to give and receive feedback. Students are expected to express their opinions within the group and receive feedback from their peers.
Consider your own classroom as you answer the following questions.
- What can students learn in different group settings?
- What are the challenges of assigning group work?
- What are the benefits of having students work in groups?
- What kind of preparation and planning is necessary?
- What topics in your curriculum lend themselves to group work? To informal group work?
- How do you decide when to use groups?
- How do you assign or form groups to ensure all students are engaged ?
- How do you ensure fairness in grading group projects?
Links to the Lessons
"Groups, Projects, and Presentations" features the following teachers and lessons from the Social Studies in Action library:
Meylin Gonzalez: Making Bread Together
Kathleen Waffle: Using Primary Sources
Gary Fisher: The Amistad Case
David Kitts: Historical Change
Osvaldo Rubio: California Missions
Rob Cuddi: Explorers in North America
Mavis Weir: Migration From Latin America
Tim Rockey: Gender-Based Distinctions