Katherine wrote: > >I also found that many students didn't feel like I was doing my >job in requiring them to exhibit some independence in their >learning. They really wanted me to "tell it at them" all the >time and felt very insecure in making and testing their own >conjectures. -snipped-
I am a fourth grade teacher, and you may be surprised to find out that even fourth graders (if they come to me from a very traditional classroom) want to sit back and have me pour it in. It's more comfortable, you don't have to be accountable, because after all if you do not learn it is not your fault it is the teachers, and "THINKING" is hard work! Many students even by the time they are in fourth grade have come to the conclusion that they should not be expected to think.
This is probably the most insidious part of continuing to lecture at students - the implication that they are not responsible for thinking. If any of your are familiar with Costa's work on thinking, he also discusses this issue.
>I'm hoping to see some very concrete ideas about using group >work. Also, for those of you who have used it extensively, >what do you do about the one or two students who refuse to >participate and how do you handle the students who are problems >to their group members?
Part of working successfully with other team members, is learning to work with team members who will not cooperate. I consider it the task of the group to "normalize" (a montessorri term) the team members. Team members who are difficult to handle are a reality, not only on learning teams, but in all group settings. Part of the power of working in groups is learning to control these situations.
My favorite story about such a situation occurred when I taught kindergarten. The students task was to collect data regarding a container of Skittles.(candy) When their presentation to the rest of the class was complete they could share the skittles. One group had a particularly difficult student in their group. (I intentionally put him in with the group that had one of the most mature students)
Out of sheer determination on the part of one student, the group completed their task and made their presentation. At the conclusion of the presentation the groups split up the Skittles. The one student turned to the boy who was causing all the problems and said, "If you think your getting any of these your dreaming !" "Next time we work, if you work with us you can share in the goodies."
Sounded a bit tough, and I wasn't sure how many phone calls there would be to the principal, superintendent, etc. by the boys parents, but I decided that the group decision must stand.
Guess what -- there was never another problem with that student during learning team work. :-)