Too often simplifying language also means simplifying content, and that can be boring, leading to disengagement and less motivation. You may think you already have a good idea of what your pupils are good at. She also tries to make sure every group has a leader, someone whose academic and language skills are strong enough to direct the group through the task. Group work can allow students to undertake a wider variety of assignments. Development of Generic Skills. However, group work can open up a whole new set of skills for you to assess. Just remember, if you use it wisely you should find that there are many benefits for both you and your students to enjoy. There’s also very little direct instruction, in part because it wouldn’t be accessible to many of the students. You’ll also receive a carefully curated list of content from teacher-trusted sources. This information is all very valuable and can be used at a later date when holding one-to-ones or during parent’s evening. It’s a safe space where students don’t have to be shy about their accents. In addition to an English gap, some have missed several years of school in their home countries. In fact, it’s what makes most companies so successful. A. She learned quickly to ask questions instead of making assumptions. It should build their communication skills, and help them learn how to r… However, you also need to heighten their ability to work alongside other people in a team. Benefits for Students. Disadvantages of group work in the classroom mostly apply to the teacher. “They're actually used to holding each other accountable for the norms that we have in group discussions,” she said. LEARNING TOGETHER. The tablemate then turned to her group and repeated what she said in English, adding, “We need to practice reading, too.”. (web page) outlines the benefits of group work for both students and instructors -- with the caveat that "group projects can – and often do – backfire badly when they are not designed, supervised, and assessed in a way that promotes meaningful teamwork and deep collaboration." This doesn’t mean that group work should be shunned though. Work done in groups can often simulate the tasks students Grouping students should allow, and even force, students to work together. When students study alone they can plan a study schedule that works best for them and take breaks when they please. “I think about the demands that they're going to have to face in college,” English teacher Heather Heistand said. Assigning a Group That is why it is important to plan group work and the types of groups you will be using. When students study in a group, the priority is finding a time that works for everyone, not finding a time that is most effective for studying. Heistand wasn’t surprised by this behavior. There is an age-old trick that educators have often used from time to time – group work. Individual accountability - All students in a group are held accountable for doing their share of the work and for mastery of all the material. The warmup activity got students speaking in English with one another about topics relevant to their lives, another key element of the model. Here are just eight for you to consider. If you step into any office environment around the country you’ll find that there’s a huge emphasis on teamwork. Instead, there are many benefits that you can take advantage of if you are currently teaching in the UK. Amel said she worried about accidentally offending her classmates because she didn’t know enough about other cultures to know when she was offending someone. It’s useful for YOU Yes, you as a … Group roles can help disrupt stereotypical and gendered role assignments, which can be common in group learning. “At first it’s very hard to collaborate with different kinds of people,” said another student, Alan, who is from China. Both Amel and Alan are also taking a college-level class at Community College of San Francisco, part of a program most seniors do if they have enough credits. These are seniors, so they’ve had three years of experience with group work, sharing roles and making sure everyone has the chance to contribute. All the instruction and materials are in English, but teachers expect students to use their first languages to help one another make meaning, one of the many strategies they use to keep the level of thinking high. In many schools English learners are grouped by ability when they receive targeted instruction, but the Internationals Network model is quite different. It could simply mean they are going to play and talk, rather than complete regular class work. There are many benefits from analysing, discussing and exploring your own ideas and questions and gaining feedback from your peers. The benefits of group work The benefits of group work Whatever form the group work takes on your course, the opportunity to work with others, rather than on your own, can provide distinct benefits. “I am from a place where I only have the same people and same religion,” said Amel, a senior originally from Yemen. Despite those challenges, graduates from Internationals schools do quite well. The emphasis on collaborative group work and conversation with peers from different backgrounds can be hard for students at first. “You will be able to learn things by yourself very quick, but in teamwork you need to make sure that your teammate isn’t left out,” he said. Since students come from all over the world, their exposure to formal schooling is often quite different from the average trajectory in the U.S. The benefits of group work do not stop with the students. Impact Teachers are a London-based supply teaching agency with a passion for people and education. This concept teaches diversity, communication, and compromise. The felt more invested in the course and in the class material, which promoted active learning in a large class environment. The idea is for students to get exposed to college-level work, but with a cohort of peers and the support of their high school teachers. One of the most difficult aspects of teaching students who are learning English is keeping the cognitive rigor of learning activities high, while making sure students can access the content by simplifying the language. Nine times out of 10, you can do this when they are working independently. Group work is an amazing way to do this because it can help students relax alongside their peers as they learn the value of their own opinion. Benefits for students The social process Amel described is actually a big part of the educational strategy at SFIHS. Therefore, you should be looking to develop confidence in your pupils at every opportunity. Heistand then called on representatives of each group to share out to the class. Group roles allow students to strengthen their communicative skills, especially in areas that they are less confident in volunteering for. This means that after the group work is complete the classroom will be a more harmonious environment. Think carefully about how students will be physically arranged in groups.Will it be easy for groups to form and for all students to be comfortable? Students can gain confidence, become more aware of their strengths and are encouraged to develop their own ideas. “They are social creatures. The technique can then leave you with more time to complete tasks such as admin or marking homework. They want to talk; they want to learn; they're curious,” Kessler said. Why Group Work Could Be the Key to English Learner Success, San Francisco International High School (SFIHS), Internationals Network model is quite different. Group work is an amazing way to do this because it can help students relax alongside their peers as they learn the value of their own opinion. While you can’t force two pupils to be friends, putting them in a group together should help them to build bridges and find a mutual respect for each other. By doing so, we are getting students to work with people they may never have chosen to work with. The best way to ensure this happens is by being strategic when choosing which pupils go into a group together. Teachers tailor instruction to many different academic levels, but they also need to reach students who speak many different languages. Subscribe to receive weekly updates of MindShift stories every Sunday. In one instance, a boy quickly grabbed the “reader” role at his table, but his tablemate told him in Spanish to let someone else try because he had read last time. “More hands make for lighter work.” “Two heads are better than one.” “The more the merrier.” These adages speak to the potential groups have to be more productive, creative, and motivated than individuals on their own. Heistand then assigned students to groups she had carefully crafted to discuss passages from George Orwell’s novel, "Animal Farm." Every teacher can reap the rewards of setting group work. This is especially true if you set short-term group work and long-term group work throughout the year. “If we create the most heterogeneous mix of kids that we possibly can and put them in situations where they are asked to speak English together, they learn English very quickly.”. Almost all work is done in groups that are carefully crafted by teachers. Interactivity - While some of the group work may be parceled out and done individually, some must be done interactively with … Group members are more likely to hold each other accountable for not completing work if a particular task is assigned to them. If you’re sick of the same old routine, set group work every once in a while. 5 Benefits of Small Group Learning. It develops camaraderie among your students. This not only assists students to increase the opportunities to apply their knowledge, but also enhances their interest and ability of learning. There’s also very little direct instruction, in part because it wouldn’t be accessible to many of the students. Active learning keeps children from daydreaming and dozing off. The San Francisco public school is part of the Internationals Network, which started in New York and has decades of experience teaching students who are newly arrived to the U.S. and are learning English while attending American high schools. In language classes, GW is a strategy that enables students to discuss issues or to engage in joint activities with other students in a less threatening environment (Harmer, 1991). Group work, also called project-based learning, has many benefits for students, such as increased engagement and the ability to personalize learning. Group work can be especially beneficial for large classes. If they’re foreign and living in the country for the foreseeable future, they’ll need friends who understand them even more. What is it exactly? Schools following this model are small and keep a laserlike focus on language development and access to postgraduate opportunities, which means they often don’t offer as much choice as comprehensive high schools. Benefits of Group Work in Language Learning An important aim of group work (GW) is to encourage fluency in language. In the long run, this new self-belief can help pupils improve upon their grades and enjoy school. Group work provides a platform to nurture independent and lifelong learning. This enables teachers to see their students’ growth in action as students apply learning and analyze situations and decisions. After the writing exercise, students moved physically to different parts of the room based on their responses and shared their opinions with a partner. Well, it’s the process of allowing several pupils to work side by side to manage a workload and complete a project. Kessler said the college program is part of the school’s mission to not just graduate students and help them apply to college, but to ensure that they get in and finish. “But after you get used to it you will feel amazing, like you are working with the whole international.” Alan admits he was shy about collaborating at first, but when his teachers told him teamwork was part of his grade he got over his reticence. It’s a safe space where students don’t have to be shy about their accents. In an ideal world everyone would just get along. Sadly, there are those who shy away from setting their students such tasks because the outcome can sometimes descend into chaos if pupils don’t take it seriously. Group work gives teachers a fantastic opportunity to monitor and observe as students collaborate. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world – and there are sure to be conflicts between pupils throughout the school year. The best way to do this is by setting group work. Now he said he can see the benefits of both group work and individual work. In fact, there’s a lot to be learned just from watching over a group. Group work is great for improving your critical thinking skills and making you a sharper thinker. “But again and again we come back to this idea that if we teach students how to learn and how to support each other in learning, they will have the skills to be successful once their language catches up with where their peers are from other schools.”. I couldn’t even understand why they think this way, and why they wear these clothes, and why they talk this language.” She also said that at first it was confusing to try to focus on English while being surrounded by other languages like Spanish and Chinese in class and in the halls. Wright and Lawson (2005) found that group work helped students feel that the class was smaller and encouraged them to come to class more often. It takes between four and seven years to really learn a language well, so it’s no surprise that even after high school students are still catching up to their peers who grew up speaking English. Over recent years, a continuing theme in education is the overcrowding of state schools. Similarly to how group work mixes things up, it can also be a change of pace. Many students came from educational systems that did not value collaboration -- all school work was done individually and group work was considered cheating. “It is easy for English learners to become marginalized or for their needs not to be taken into account,” said SFIHS principal Julie Kessler. In the long run, this new self-belief can help pupils improve upon their grades and enjoy school. Group work aids their language learning in many ways even when they may not realize what is happening. One Wednesday morning in Heistand’s senior English class, students started the class period by writing about why they agreed or disagreed with various statements like, “People should trust their leaders to make decisions for them.” Heistand says she always gives students a chance to prewrite before sharing their answers verbally, so that those who are less comfortable with English have something to share. When teachers encourage group work, they offer students a safe environment in which they can interact without all eyes of the class focused on them at once. “So in speed you might be getting a little bit slower, but in quality, teamwork is really much more higher because when you communicate with other people then you will understand different ideas, and you will also learn a deeper level of a certain topic.”. Growing as an independent, individual is also important for students but don’t downplay the benefits of working in teams or small groups. Like anything in education, grouping works best when it is planned and used thoughtfully. “Every single kid in that room is a language learner,” Kessler said. If you watch on from the sidelines you should find that your students learn how to listen to each other, bring original ideas to the table and compromise as they work towards one common goal. 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