Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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  Workshop 5: Patriotism & Foreign Policy  
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Workshop 5

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Teacher Perspectives: Group work

Alice Chandler: I use groups because you can get a wider dimension of how [students] are thinking. Sometimes they’ll say, “Oh, yes. I was thinking that, but how about this?” That’s the way it is in the real world as far as team teaching and teamwork. It used to be that a lot was individualized but now people are looking for team people--people who can really bring something to the table--so in doing this, they are also developing the skill of being able to work with others. Also, networking is very important for them to learn now. Even though they’re in high school, it’s just another world in which they can make connections with other students. In fact, the dancers said that they may have to go to the vocal music people in order to get some information so they’ll be able to carry out their piece.

It’s not an optional thing for them to do, therefore, they learn how to function based on that. They have to understand that in the real world, that’s probably the way it’s going to be for many of them. They may have to work with people that are not in their art. The groups I used for this particular lesson were based strictly on their art or on similar arts, like museum studies with visual arts or instrumental musicals with vocal. You learn to find out what’s comfortable for the students and you always leave them the option to do something on an individual level if they wish.

The specific manner in which I organize my class is to have a group leader. There’s always a natural leader in the group, especially when you’re talking about the arts. They already know who is stronger with their talent, or stronger with being vocal, or with getting people organized. In fact, in the class we’re in now, we had the president of the student government as well as the vice president of the student government. There are leaders everywhere. The other thing is to have a recorder just like in any organization. You need someone who will document what takes place so there’re no questions about what’s expected. That helps with the homework piece and also ties into networking and the peer support that you need to have when you’re doing cooperative learning.

[Putting together] the museum individuals and visual arts students as the head committee was a result of my having worked in the corporate world. I realized that they have a head group and then they have people that are designated to bring in pieces to the whole. I believe [at] the Smithsonian and other groups you have the regents at the top and then you have various committees under them. The students need to have that kind of exposure. They may be asked to work on a committee one day. It became a very good organizing principle.


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