Q&A #6095

Homework teams & classroom groups

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From: Jeanne (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Apr 09, 2001 at 02:10:33
Subject: Re: Homework teams & classroom groups

Dear Ron,

The questions you ask are questions asked by hundreds of teachers all over 
the country.  The issues you bring up are faced by all of us regardless of 
how we choose to conduct our classes.  There are many who would say, "Yes.  
It is more trouble than it is worth."  There are many who would say, "No.  
It is not more trouble than it is worth."  

I am a member of the second group.  I am a firm believer in the value 
teaching with small groups and the opportunities that small groups create 
for more students to be actively involved in their own learning.  This is 
not to say that I don't lecture now and then or that I don't have days when 
my groups are just not working the way I want them to work.  I do. 

It is helpful to be using a curriculum that is designed for small group 
instruction.  As a high school teacher, I am familiar with three curricula 
that fits this requirement:  College Preparatory Mathematics Program (CPM), 
Courses 1 through 4 and AP Calculus http://cpm.org/ ; Interactive 
Mathematics Program (IMP), Courses 1 through 4 http://www.mathimp.org/ ; and 
Discovering Geometry by Michael Serra (Key Curriculum Press) 
http://www.keypress.com/.  And there are other curricula as well.  

The publishers of these three curricula see the need for staff development 
and offer training in teaching with the materials and of course, in teaching 
with small groups.  

It helps to have training in teaching with cooperative/collaborative 
groups.  It helps to have training on how to teach kids what is meant 
by "working in groups."  It helps to talk to teachers who are already usng 
small groups.  From my experience this is a more efficient way of addressing 
your questions of assessment and grading, when to change groups, how to form 
groups, etc. 

It helps to see classrooms where the small groups are working well.  
Annenberg/CPB has a series called Teaching Math, A Video Library 9-12 which 
might be of interest to you.  The offer free previews. 

Hope this helps.

 -Jeanne, for the T2T service

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