<<I have been following the postings re group work with interest. At our Canadian ( Ontario ) high school, we are starting to use group work more and more. However, each time we have to move desks into what seems like a crowded rather artificial setting. I was thinking of setting up one of the math rooms as a " math lab " with larger tables so that teachers could move their classes in for group work, projects etc. We may be able to move in 5 computers, manipulatives etc. Has anyone done this, or have any thoughts on the idea before we set up the room?>>>>
I would suggest you use round tables large enough to seat 4-5 students. I have a class at my school with 8 round tables so we can accomodate up to 32 or more students. That is a rather large group to set up group activities but it can be done. The next possibility is to use trapezoidal tables which can be arranges in a hexogon (approximating) round tables, but larger or long tables for large groups. I think the key though is to enable students to face each other as they work or else they will tend to work by themselves. When I am "stuck" in a regular class I usually circle the wagons using 3-4 desks. You can tell immediately if someone is not inclined to work with the group because their chair is several feet away from the rest. I try to encourage that person to move closer and later ask why they are not inclined to work with the group. Body language is important in seeing how groups are working together. With fixed tables it is harder to tell.