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Response to Joan, Deeper Reading

Hi Joan,

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.


Thanks for the great tips, Joyce. I especially like testing group members with pointed questions and then outlining your expectations.

I like the check off system for participation. I will try this with my classes this year. I also like the idea that they bring something in to "show" you. If you were tired of buzzing you could ask students to hold up their item and check off that way. It helps if you are fried and looking for a quick tally or if one group sabatoges your time.

Another idea I've used when students are in small groups for periods of time such as over a week of work for the novel or possibly a month is, I have them create a list with the MOST involved or responsible person at the top and the second most and so on. It helps everyone to realize it's a group activity and the responsibility should be shared equally.