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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