Small group and discussion techniques NFTEP/GSTEP Nov. 12
Overview of the session • Pros/cons of small group/discussion formats • Preventing/managing discussion problems • Grading discussion • Pros/cons of group projects • Preventing problems and grading group projects • Recap of some discussion techniques used in the session
Pros/cons of discussion • Please take out a piece of paper, and divide into two columns. This writing will be shared. • In one column, list pros for discussion techniques. Why should we use them, what learning goals are they good for? • In the other, list cons of discussion techniques. What problems arise in their use, what learning goals are they not well-suited for?
Now please compare your pro/con lists with someone near you. Try to construct a non-redundant list containing ideas from both of you.
Now each pair of you please get together with another pair, and try to compose a non-redundant list of pros/cons from the four of you.
Pros of discussion/small group techniques • Intellectual ownership of ideas • Shows class preparedness • Better engagement, more active • Peer learning
Cons of discussion/small group techniques • Students may share inaccurate info • Hard to grade– what did they learn from this? • Students may not be prepared • Naturally quiet students don’t participate– but others may dominate • Side conversations
Some common problems with discussions • Students unprepared • Some students dominate the conversation; Some students don’t talk • Discussions of controversial topics get out of hand, become emotional/rude • Students may share inaccurate info • Hard to grade– what did they learn from this? • Naturally quiet students don’t participate– but others may dominate • Side conversations
Preventing/managing discussion problems • Please count off by (how many problems did we list?) • Please form small groups and discuss method you have seen teachers use for preventing/managing the discussion problem that matches your number. • Be prepared to share techniques, and your evaluations of these, with the rest of the class.
YES Reward effort Encourages participation Validates the oral mode and students as knowers Encourages attendance Allow dif methods of getting points NO Hard to do Individual diffs in particip style Language barriers SHOULD we grade discussion?
IF you choose to grade discussion… • Count off by 4s. • Each of you please pick up a handout with your number on it. Study the grading technique, so that you can teach it to your group.
Form groups that contain a 1, a 2, a 3, and a 4. • Each of you teach your group about your grading technique. • The group should try to come to a consensus about which technique they think is best, and be prepared to share their conclusion with the whole class.
Pros and cons of group projects • Please take out a piece of paper. Free-write for a few minutes about pros and/or cons of group projects. Why do teachers assign group projects? Why do students hate them? What do teachers hate about group projects? What do students like about them? • These will be shared, but anonymously.
Some common problems with group projects • How should we compose the groups? • Students “divide and conquer” rather than really collaborating • One student gets stuck doing all the work, and the others take the credit
What methods have you seen teachers use to prevent/manage these problems? • What do you see as advantages and disadvantages of these methods?
Please spend a couple of minutes free-writing about methods of handling problems with group projects. What conclusions do YOU draw from this discussion?
Recap of discussion techniques used in the session • Think/pair/share/snowball reporting • Small groups on DIFFERENT questions, report back to class. • Whole class brainstorming • Individuals are jigsaw parts of the group puzzle. Note: when small groups worked on different questions, the whole class was a “jigsaw.” • Silent discussion, “low tech chatroom” • Whole class open-ended discussion, followed by individual reflection/summary.