In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Kristen Robertson (email@example.com) wrote:
>I support this type of learning however my one concern is that some students >would not be productive during this free working time. I work best when I >am partnered with a peer, however I also remember that in elementary school >if I was not being watched or graded I was more likely to slack off. I feel >that I gain a lot from group work however it is also helpful to have a >teachers guidance also. > >"groups where children were of different mathematical conceptual levels" >again I worry that the higher leveled student would simply be giving > the lower mathematically advanced child the answers, and they would >not both be challenging one another and testing their answers. > > >I also have found from experience that I learn better from working closely >with peers than I sometimes do with professors. Since with friends I feel >more comfortable questioning their answers and demanding for clarification. >I can have friends explain difficult concepts to me insimplier terms and >without feeling embarassed, or slow.
I think this type of structure can be implemented without a concern over kids getting lost or disinterested if it's done properly. For instance, a bored, more advanced partner can't just fill in all the answers for both if the objective of the assignment is not a completed worksheet but the ability of both to explain the solution to a problem that they devised themselves. I think you're so right about the major ideas, but it's scary to accept them and put them through when the established norms and personal experience aren't there to support you.
As you said, it's often easier to learn from peers, but it's also the greatest learning experience to teach the material too. As a last thought, I don't think there is ever a time when the teacher isn't supposed to be monitoring a group's or pair's work on some level, ready to help them find a way to get over a hurdle, but learners do need to be given the opportunity to find, create, and get over those hurdles on their own.