Delaware State UniversitySMILE Project and the Math Forum August 31, 2011 |

In summary, it seemed like the group work helped us understand the problem more deeply. It was fun and exciting to hear other ways of solving the problem. But to be effective, everyone had to work independently to be able to contribute different ideas (whether they were complete or correct or not, they were still important contributions!). And everyone had to participate equally. And finally, everyone had to work actively to understand the other methods.
- Reshuffle the groups. Group students who are "talkers" together in one group. Help the talkers experience the value of listening and learning from others strategies. Maybe some of the talkers who also value listening can help inspire and share with other groups.
- Look out for good listeners (who ask things like, "so what you're saying is," or "that's similar to this because,") and have them assist you in facilitating the groups.
- Value and praise good listening questions (like the ones above); maybe write them on the board as you notice them? Or reflect on the group process at the end of a session?
- Have students present their ideas and findings to one another; by the end of the term, any student in the group should be able to present that group's work.
- Don't write or tell the students what to do.
- Don't check work for the students.
- Enforce individual work time (5 - 10 minutes) before group sharing time.
- Have the students each share something they understand about the problem at the beginning. Go around. Everyone can contribute at this stage.
- Encourage the "talkers" to step back.
- Have them tell you in their own words what they know from the problem
- Have them tell you in their own words what they are trying to find
- Help them organize the known information like this:
- Quantities in the problem [Name the quantities, then put the value in parentheses, like this: Time it takes Tristan and Isolde to eat a box of chocolate (2 weeks)].
- Relationships in the problem [In words: Amount of chocolate in a box (1 lb) / Time it takes Tristan and Isolde to eat a box of chocolate (2 weeks) = Amount of chocolate they eat in 1 week (1/2 lb per week)].
- If they can do that, you can help them shorten the writing into more mathematical sentences, or they might have an idea of how to solve the problem based on the relationships.
Please
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