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Small-Group Discussions

Small-Group Discussions

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Small-Group Discussions

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  1. Small-Group Discussions Reference: Orlich, D. C. (2004). Teaching strategies : a guide to effective instruction (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Johnson, D. W., and Johnson, R. T. (1998). Learning Together and Alone. Cooperation, Competition, and Individualization (5th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

  2. Key Definitions • Discussions • Purposeful learning exchanges conducted by students in small groups • Small groups • Purposeful arrangements, ideally of up to six to eight students • Cooperative learning • An adaptation of the small-group teaching technique, used to promote individuals’ and group members’ achievement

  3. Why small-group discussion? • Identifying problems or issues to be studied • Listing, fact finding, brainstorm • Evaluating data, opinions and sources of information • Comparing, exploring different ways, analysing, problem-solving • Learning teamwork • Improving leadership and organization skills • Learning to defend one’s ideas and to accept the viewpoints of others • Allowing students to demonstrate individual strengths • Learning to accept and value various viewpoints

  4. Components of small-group discussions • Takes time • Requires teacher planning and analysing • Size of groups: no more than 8 • Room arrangement • So that group members face one another • Choice of Topics/issues and media • Sufficient information should be available to group members • Controversial issues and moral dilemmas are excellent topics • Text, pictures, video to carry the information • One topic/issue for all groups, different portions of the issues for different groups

  5. Small group discussion in LS • Contents/issues in LS • are usually complex • Involve social/human awareness (value judgement) • Depend on observations (inductive reasoning) • Force students to • think by peer group pressure • Identify the issue and define its context • Distinguish pertinent from peripheral information • Interact with other group members: key/critical questions, different viewpoints and value judgements raised by other members

  6. Roles for members • Group leader • Facilitates group discussion, and makes sure that group sets goals and works to meet them • Monitor • Monitors time on task and ensures that everyone gets equal opportunity to participate • Resource manager • Gathers and organizes materials • Recorder • Keeps a written or taped record of group activities • Reporter • Shares findings from other groups

  7. Approaches in learning by groups • Study group • To master academic materials and help each other through tutoring, quizzing one another, team discussion • Common • Whole group discussion and answer • Jigsaw grouping • Each student in a group is responsible to study a portion of materials. Members from different teams with the same topic meet to study • Think-Pair-Share • Individual spends 1-min thinking alone; Pair discuss what they have been thinking about; Pairs share what they have been talking

  8. Jigsaw grouping Home teams Expert teams

  9. Some pitfalls in group learning • groups arguing over divisive conflicts • groups chatting on minor or irrelevant stuff • one member does the work, while the other members talk about computer games • All groups have more or less the same points of discussion, especially in one topic/issue for all groups • a member sits quietly, too shy to participate • a more talented member may come up with all the answers, dictate to the group, or work separately, ignoring other group members • Not all students possess good social and learning skills

  10. Small-group discussions Now, theory into practice. Share your experiences …if you conducted similar types of group discussion (not necessarily LS)

  11. 中六通識教育 • 議題:不是香港人:女人天下!? • 組合形式:7 組不同問題

  12. 中六通識教育 • 議題:增加資助大學學位給予非本地生 • 組合形式:5 組不同角色

  13. What a teacher have to do … • Like an orchestra conductor: to know what each group knows; what learning outcomes s/he wants • Help students work collectively through the material: discover for themselves the content and arguments (scaffolding) • …