Group Work Should not be Cheat Work

The dreaded “group work,” where one kid does all the work, and the rest chill and wait for the class to be over. Only 1-2 students are engaged and doing the work. How can you avoid this? EASY. Formalize your cooperative learning!

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Assign student groups every 9 weeks. You are in charge here. Put students together strategically so they can maximize success. Keep those groups for 9 weeks. Then change after report cards. When you say, “Ok guys, get into your cooperative learning groups,” there is no question as to where they are supposed to go. Sure, they may gripe for a second when you first do this. However, they will fall into the routine in no time. Stick to your guns; you chose the groups.
  2. When using cooperative learning, make sure everyone has a job. For example, if an English teacher wants students to analyze a piece of text in their cooperative learning groups, she can assign each student a task. Perhaps two students are readers, 1 student is the note-taker, and one student is the administrator. The readers read, (obviously), the administrator decides when to stop and discuss, and the note-taker writes down important points discussed.
  3. Have students evaluate their own group. When students have a chance to grade or evaluate their peers, they step up. So along with the final grade for the cooperative learning activity, consider factoring in the group evaluations in the grade.
  4. Practice, Practice, Practice! Good cooperative learning takes time and practice for you and your students. So, don’t give up. Keep at it.

Having students engage in a more formalized activity like this will save you from pulling your hair out when you see this: