The benefits of group work do not stop with the students. By Susan Munro, Mary Utne O'Brien, John W. Payton October 19, 2006 This not only assists students to increase the opportunities to apply their knowledge, but also enhances their interest and ability of learning. Group work can allow students to undertake a wider variety of assignments. The tablemate then turned to her group and repeated what she said in English, adding, “We need to practice reading, too.”. They read the passage out loud, discussed what it meant, and used textual evidence to support claims they made in response to prompts. This is why it’s important to seize the opportunity to mix things up whenever possible. By doing so, we are getting students to work with people they may never have chosen to work with. The emphasis on collaborative group work and conversation with peers from different backgrounds can be hard for students at first. “I am from a place where I only have the same people and same religion,” said Amel, a senior originally from Yemen. Now she likes learning about her classmates’ cultures and perspectives -- it’s part of what keeps class interesting. There is an age-old trick that educators have often used from time to time – group work. Interactivity - While some of the group work may be parceled out and done individually, some must be done interactively with … However, group work can open up a whole new set of skills for you to assess. Group roles can help disrupt stereotypical and gendered role assignments, which can be common in group learning. “We have the luxury of having designed our entire program around the needs of this group that is often forgotten about or underserved in schools where multiple priorities exist.”. “It was really hard for me to know different people. Group work is an amazing way to do this because it can help students relax alongside their peers as they learn the value of their own opinion. There are many benefits from analysing, discussing and exploring your own ideas and questions and gaining feedback from your peers. Group roles can help disrupt stereotypical and gendered role assignments, which can be common … “You will be able to learn things by yourself very quick, but in teamwork you need to make sure that your teammate isn’t left out,” he said. One Wednesday morning in Heistand’s senior English class, students started the class period by writing about why they agreed or disagreed with various statements like, “People should trust their leaders to make decisions for them.” Heistand says she always gives students a chance to prewrite before sharing their answers verbally, so that those who are less comfortable with English have something to share. The school day can be terribly rigid – for teachers as much as students. “It is easy for English learners to become marginalized or for their needs not to be taken into account,” said SFIHS principal Julie Kessler. Simply seating students in groups of four or five does not mean students are engaged with each other. Benefits for Students. The warmup activity got students speaking in English with one another about topics relevant to their lives, another key element of the model. That is why it is important to plan group work and the types of groups you will be using. If you step into any office environment around the country you’ll find that there’s a huge emphasis on teamwork. All the instruction and materials are in English, but teachers expect students to use their first languages to help one another make meaning, one of the many strategies they use to keep the level of thinking high. Since students come from all over the world, their exposure to formal schooling is often quite different from the average trajectory in the U.S. There’s also very little direct instruction, in part because it wouldn’t be accessible to many of the students. The technique can then leave you with more time to complete tasks such as admin or marking homework. Address: 1-13 Falcon Road, London, SW11 2PL. In one instance, a boy quickly grabbed the “reader” role at his table, but his tablemate told him in Spanish to let someone else try because he had read last time. The benefits of group work The benefits of group work Whatever form the group work takes on your course, the opportunity to work with others, rather than on your own, can provide distinct benefits. © 2020 Impact Teachers Ltd - All Rights Reserved. When students study alone they can plan a study schedule that works best for them and take breaks when they please. Group members are more likely to hold each other accountable for not completing work if a particular task is assigned to them. Group counseling provides a supportive environment to discuss problems and concerns and to work toward your goals. Group working can provide a great opportunity to develop generic skills such as, Organisation; Delegation “So in speed you might be getting a little bit slower, but in quality, teamwork is really much more higher because when you communicate with other people then you will understand different ideas, and you will also learn a deeper level of a certain topic.”. “They're actually used to holding each other accountable for the norms that we have in group discussions,” she said. The best way to ensure this happens is by being strategic when choosing which pupils go into a group together. "What Are the Benefits of Group Work?" Group work aids their language learning in many ways even when they may not realize what is happening. In the college classes instructors speak more quickly and the reading load is more burdensome, but students seem to like getting a taste of what to expect from the college experience. Think carefully about how students will be physically arranged in groups.Will it be easy for groups to form and for all students to be comfortable? Instead, there are many benefits that you can take advantage of if you are currently teaching in the UK. Just remember, if you use it wisely you should find that there are many benefits for both you and your students to enjoy. Like anything in education, grouping works best when it is planned and used thoughtfully. “At first it’s very hard to collaborate with different kinds of people,” said another student, Alan, who is from China. Schools following this model are small and keep a laserlike focus on language development and access to postgraduate opportunities, which means they often don’t offer as much choice as comprehensive high schools. 1. Group work gives teachers a fantastic opportunity to monitor and observe as students collaborate. It’s useful for YOU Yes, you as a … Despite those challenges, graduates from Internationals schools do quite well. One of the most difficult aspects of teaching students who are learning English is keeping the cognitive rigor of learning activities high, while making sure students can access the content by simplifying the language. Increased productivity and performance: groups that work well together can achieve much more than individuals working on their own. Active learning keeps children from daydreaming and dozing off. Heistand then called on representatives of each group to share out to the class. When students study in a group, the priority is finding a time that works for everyone, not finding a time that is most effective for studying. Always remember, school is predominantly about arming the young generation with skills to succeed in later life. The felt more invested in the course and in the class material, which promoted active learning in a large class environment. Students can allocate tasks based on expertise. And, the school has a uniquely supportive culture in part because everyone is learning English and supporting one another through that difficult process. She encourages students to go to colleges with other students from SFIHS so they can help one another. Teachers tailor instruction to many different academic levels, but they also need to reach students who speak many different languages. It develops camaraderie among your students. Growing as an independent, individual is also important for students but don’t downplay the benefits of working in teams or small groups. “They are social creatures. In fact, students receive many benefits from working in groups as they study English and pursue language fluency. So, the next time you work in a group remember this: listen to others’ perspectives and see how their views can sharpen your own. Additionally, students will need to actively participate in helping the group reach its goals. “My goal with heterogeneous groups is to make sure that there is at least one speaker of a different language in each group.”. In an ideal world everyone would just get along. Impact Teachers are a London-based supply teaching agency with a passion for people and education. For some members of your class, their fellow students are the closest thing they have to a family during their time overseas. Assigning a Group Meanwhile, you may find that another pupil is happy to take a backseat when they know that someone else is carrying the workload for them. Benefits for students For over 15 years we have been providing the best supply teaching experience to teachers and TAs from London, the UK and overseas. And she will often pair a lower-level English speaker with a higher-level English speaker who speaks the same native language. What is it exactly? Wright and Lawson (2005) found that group work helped students feel that the class was smaller and encouraged them to come to class more often. Group work can be especially beneficial for large classes. Work done in groups can often simulate the tasks students “If we create the most heterogeneous mix of kids that we possibly can and put them in situations where they are asked to speak English together, they learn English very quickly.”. She also tries to make sure every group has a leader, someone whose academic and language skills are strong enough to direct the group through the task. And what’s more applicable to adult life than working as a team? 5 Benefits of Small Group Learning. In the long run, this new self-belief can help pupils improve upon their grades and enjoy school. Students can gain confidence, become more aware of their strengths and are encouraged to develop their own ideas. It could simply mean they are going to play and talk, rather than complete regular class work. What are the benefits of group work? It’s a safe space where students don’t have to be shy about their accents. Yes, you as a teacher can also benefit from setting group work. “I think about the demands that they're going to have to face in college,” English teacher Heather Heistand said. In order to combat some of the challenges in keeping English language learners engaged, educators at San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) are trying a different approach. Subscribe to receive weekly updates of MindShift stories every Sunday. Here are just eight for you to consider. SFIHS teachers have found that their students are more motivated to engage with content -- and practice English -- when they work in groups that include speakers of many different first languages on authentic discussions or problems. One thing we can be sure about – modern education has … Many students came from educational systems that did not value collaboration -- all school work was done individually and group work was considered cheating. Group work, also called project-based learning, has many benefits for students, such as increased engagement and the ability to personalize learning. It should build their communication skills, and help them learn how to r… Now he said he can see the benefits of both group work and individual work. This concept teaches diversity, communication, and compromise. A. Kessler said the college program is part of the school’s mission to not just graduate students and help them apply to college, but to ensure that they get in and finish. Grouping students should allow, and even force, students to work together. Development of Generic Skills. Well, it’s the process of allowing several pupils to work side by side to manage a workload and complete a project. Group work is defined as more than one person working together to complete a task or assignment. Groups of 5 to 10 students meet on weekly a quarterly basis with a counselor facilitating the session. Group work is an amazing way to do this because it can help students relax alongside their peers as they learn the value of their own opinion. Too often simplifying language also means simplifying content, and that can be boring, leading to disengagement and less motivation. Group roles allow students to strengthen their communicative skills, especially in areas that they are less confident in volunteering for. Over recent years, a continuing theme in education is the overcrowding of state schools. For the "Animal Farm" activity there was a “reader,” an “editor,” a “discussion leader” and a “question asker.” The reader is responsible for reading the text out loud; the editor helps make sure everyone knows what to write down; the discussion leader keeps the conversation moving and ensures everyone shares; and the question asker is the only one who can ask Heistand for help or clarification. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Teachers can offer guidance and correction as needed. The San Francisco public school is part of the Internationals Network, which started in New York and has decades of experience teaching students who are newly arrived to the U.S. and are learning English while attending American high schools. She learned quickly to ask questions instead of making assumptions. There’s also very little direct instruction, in part because it wouldn’t be accessible to many of the students. Group work is great for improving your critical thinking skills and making you a sharper thinker. Group work provides a platform to nurture independent and lifelong learning. 5 super-smart teaching hacks for organised learning for you and your students, 4 Teaching Hacks to get pupils to put their phones away. Educators are taking advantage of teens’ desire to flirt and socialize to help them learn the language. • It encourages the development of critical thinking skills. Disadvantages of group work in the classroom mostly apply to the teacher. LEARNING TOGETHER. In any given year at SFIHS, students speak between 17-24 different languages, which teachers see as an asset to their teaching. You may think you already have a good idea of what your pupils are good at. When teachers encourage group work, they offer students a safe environment in which they can interact without all eyes of the class focused on them at once. “More hands make for lighter work.” “Two heads are better than one.” “The more the merrier.” These adages speak to the potential groups have to be more productive, creative, and motivated than individuals on their own. “And so if somebody is making a mistake with pronunciation or struggling with the word, everybody has been there.” Educators here try to foster students’ pride in their bilingualism and community around a shared experience of struggle. It takes more than just intelligence to secure good grades – it also takes confidence. “But again and again we come back to this idea that if we teach students how to learn and how to support each other in learning, they will have the skills to be successful once their language catches up with where their peers are from other schools.”. This means that after the group work is complete the classroom will be a more harmonious environment. Sadly, there are those who shy away from setting their students such tasks because the outcome can sometimes descend into chaos if pupils don’t take it seriously. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world – and there are sure to be conflicts between pupils throughout the school year. 3. If you’re sick of the same old routine, set group work every once in a while. Both Amel and Alan are also taking a college-level class at Community College of San Francisco, part of a program most seniors do if they have enough credits. You may find that someone – perhaps unexpectedly – is a natural leader. While you can’t force two pupils to be friends, putting them in a group together should help them to build bridges and find a mutual respect for each other. Every teacher can reap the rewards of setting group work. These are seniors, so they’ve had three years of experience with group work, sharing roles and making sure everyone has the chance to contribute. “Where they sit in the classroom is super important,” said Heather Heistand, an English teacher at SFIHS. The social process Amel described is actually a big part of the educational strategy at SFIHS. Obviously there should always be a focus on your students working independently, but if group work proves to be successful there’s nothing wrong with relying on it more often throughout the year. Benefits of Group Work in Language Learning An important aim of group work (GW) is to encourage fluency in language. This enables teachers to see their students’ growth in action as students apply learning and analyze situations and decisions. Similarly to how group work mixes things up, it can also be a change of pace. (web page) outlines the benefits of group work for both students and instructors -- with the caveat that "group projects can – and often do – backfire badly when they are not designed, supervised, and assessed in a way that promotes meaningful teamwork and deep collaboration." Meanwhile, you’ll find that your students are always forced to adjust if you change the groups each time you set such projects. The emphasis on collaborative group work and conversation with peers from different backgrounds can be hard for students at first. Group work holds its advantages for … Therefore, you should be looking to develop confidence in your pupils at every opportunity. This doesn’t mean that group work should be shunned though. Heistand wasn’t surprised by this behavior. I couldn’t even understand why they think this way, and why they wear these clothes, and why they talk this language.” She also said that at first it was confusing to try to focus on English while being surrounded by other languages like Spanish and Chinese in class and in the halls. In the long run, this new self-belief can help pupils improve upon their grades and enjoy school. However, you also need to heighten their ability to work alongside other people in a team. In fact, there’s a lot to be learned just from watching over a group. Group sessions involve sharing your experiences and listening to others experiences. Heistand then assigned students to groups she had carefully crafted to discuss passages from George Orwell’s novel, "Animal Farm." In many schools English learners are grouped by ability when they receive targeted instruction, but the Internationals Network model is quite different. Benefits: • Group work requires students to ask questions and explain their points of view to others. “Every single kid in that room is a language learner,” Kessler said. In addition to an English gap, some have missed several years of school in their home countries. Group activities increase logic, critical thinking and problem solving abilities. Remember your view is malleable and should change as a result of the interaction. Almost all work is done in groups that are carefully crafted by teachers. If they’re foreign and living in the country for the foreseeable future, they’ll need friends who understand them even more. Benefits of group work Good group work has great potential for the following reasons: • Students are encouraged to become active rather than passive learners by developing collaborative and co-operative skills, and lifelong learning skills. 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