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Re: Improving group work-thanks for posting

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  • Marijana Smolcec
    Hello Dave thank you for having some time to post more about group work. I have noticed you quoted me, and I must say I agree in all you have written. Some of
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 28, 2011
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      Hello Dave

      thank you for having some time to post more about group work.
      I have noticed you quoted me, and I must say I agree in all you have written.

      Some of the steps you described I already use. I always try to invent new things, it's difficult sometimes to put the students to groups, I even had a negative response when one student didn't want to be in group with another one in a class. But, I always try to mix them as you describe.

      I am aware of beginner students and lower level, and don't use group work with them, rather pair work. So, I mostly do group work with intermediate and upper-intermediate students.

      You gave me some new ideas and alternatives, and I must thank you one more time. I will probably share this with some of my collegues

      Bye from Croatia


      --- In evonline2002_webheads@yahoogroups.com, "dk" <davekees1@...> wrote:
      > "What I want to say is, to prepare a group work, so that everybody in a
      > group has their own task is time consuming. I have discussed this with my
      > colleagues in school. If they put students in group only few students will
      > work and they mostly also use their mother tongue L1, even though I tell
      > them to speak more English."
      > 1. I agree that for group work, any more than four students is less
      > effective.
      > 2. You will find that more advanced students will more readily work together
      > in English. Beginners and low-level students will have a much greater
      > tendency to speak in L1.
      > 3. Make sure the instructions are very clear and do a demonstration if
      > necessary. If there is some confusion about the activity, students might not
      > ask for clarification and not do the activity.
      > 4. Mix up the people in the groups (or pairs). Do not let the people who are
      > sitting together be in the same group. These people who sit together are
      > usually buddies who are sometimes "too" comfortable with each other and
      > often too lazy. If I have 20 students and want to make groups of four, I
      > will start at the front of the class and go up and down the rows of students
      > counting off the students to five: 1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3-4-5-1-2...etc. Then I
      > tell all the "ones" to get together, the "twos" to get together, etc. This
      > effectively causes a mix of students who are not "too" comfortable with each
      > other. You will find that such a group will perform better and put more
      > effort into the exercise.
      > 5. To generate more English, ask the students to record their role play or
      > activity. Almost all of our students have mobile phones that can record,
      > certainly one of the students in a group has one. If you ask them to make
      > and record their product, their role play, they will focus on the English
      > earlier in the activity. They will often work out the sentences in English
      > that they want to say, discussing the grammar and vocabulary, sometimes even
      > working out a script.
      > 6. Alternative #1 to the suggestion above, give every student two peanuts in
      > the shell or some other cheap wrapped-up treat. While they are working
      > together on their activity, if someone speaks in the L1 they must surrender
      > one peanut to the person who caught them. Even adult students have great fun
      > with this and it keeps everyone on their toes to really try to keep
      > everything in English.
      > 7. Alternative #2 to the suggestions above, appoint one or two "English
      > policemen". Their job is to patrol the classroom and catch and remind
      > students to speak only English. Of course, I'm sure you also circulate
      > around the classroom to do this but sometimes there are just too many
      > students.
      > 8. If the students know or think they will have to perform their activity
      > (or play their recording) in front of the class, they will put more effort
      > into it. You may not have time to have every group or pair perform. Choose
      > some "Winners" and "Losers". Take two thin slips of paper, maybe about 1x4
      > cm. On one write "Winner" and on the other "Loser". After the students have
      > had some time to do their activity, tell them you are going to pick a team
      > to come to the front of the class to do their role play or activity for
      > everyone. Hold the papers in your hand so they cannot see what you have
      > written. Go to Team #1 and ask them to choose one paper. If it is "Loser",
      > tell them you are very sorry but they will be unable to perform their role
      > play for everyone. If it is "Winner", call out "Congratulations!" and invite
      > them to the front of the class to perform. It is so funny to see students
      > rejoice when they "lose" and be so sad when they "win". This technique makes
      > all of the students participate seriously in the activity because they don't
      > know if their team will be chosen or not.
      > 9. For the teams that perform, you could give them some sort of score or
      > even have the audience of students give them some sort of rating. You could
      > award them with more peanuts or some other token cheap prize or just a round
      > of applause.
      > The main idea is to keep it fun but also set up nudges, choice architecture,
      > or the dynamics that will prompt the students towards the behavior that you
      > want them to follow.
      > Dave Kees
      > Email - DAVEKEES@...
      > Chat - Skype:DAVEKEES
      > Blog - http://davekees.wordpress.com/
      > Insights, ideas, opinions, tips, debates from TEFL teachers around the
      > world!
      > Blog - http://teflteachers.wordpress.com/
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