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Q&A #6095


Homework teams & classroom groups

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From: Ron B. <ronblake@txucom.net>
To: Teacher2Teacher Service
Date: Apr 07, 2001 at 11:02:44
Subject: Homework teams & classroom groups

Has anyone tried using Homework Teams and/or Classroom Groups with any 
success?  I'm not thinking just one-time, special project groups, but 
rather on-going teams and groups as an integral part of the classroom 
dynamics and structure.  Some law schools (Harvard once did) and graduate 
programs use similar models, I think. Can it work in high school math 
classes? 

A goal is to facilitate sharing and usage of limited and valuable 
resources.  Students that "get it" are not just available, but motivated 
to attempt keeping us all on the same page.  A danger is abusing those 
resources (students) who would perhaps get more on their own.

In my student experience I recall the stimulation of group dialog & 
motivation.  Usually it was the most successful students that bonded 
together, naturally, as do the least successful.  I don't have any 
positive memories or experience of being assigned to a group like I'm 
suggesting and would like to use in my classroom.

Ideally, bringing stronger and weaker students together could facilitate 
peer-to-peer tutoring and mentoring experience, re-enforcing (within the 
classroom) responsibility, accountability and staying on track.  
Hopefully, the experience would be beneficial to all, including the 
teacher.  

Reality, however, seems to make it difficult to break beyond social, 
economic, cultural and other cliques. e.g. geeks, jocks, cool, un-cool, 
math-challenged, math-phobic, don't-cares and classroom anarchistic.  
Then there are the lone-eagles and hyper-competitive sorts, not to mention 
all the other issues of group dynamics.

Even if successful, how do you evaluate and grade such teams or groups?  
What are the rules/guidelines for formation?  Withdrawing? Eviction?  etc.

Do the groups remain fixed for the year, semester, 6-weeks, chapter or 
other time unit?  

Is it more trouble than it is worth?


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