Response to Joan, Deeper Reading
Off-task groups drive me nuts! Some things I've done to limit this--I don't think teenagers can ever be on task as much as motivated adults, however--
I've groups to prepare by doing some prethinking at home and bringing somethin with them--this can be very short, maybe just something on a notecard or in their notebook. Then, after the small group gets started, I buzz around the room and check to make sure they were prepared--just a yes/no in my gradebook.
I also limit what I ask groups to accomplish at the beginning of the course with very specific directions for each person. I make the task small and limit the time.
Every now and then I ask them to complete a group task analysis form--ask them to describe who is doing what, how the group functions.
If groups are presenting their conclusions to the class and I think some people have been coasting, I really put those people on the spot during the presentations and ask pointed questions, which they probably are not prepared to answer. Then I tell the class why that response was weak and what I expect. A little prodding motivation
Most importantly, because papers take up so blasted much time, I make all of this something I can check on in class.
Nothing earth shattering--Joyce M.