At a recent PLC, our "coach", Kathy (@kathyaanderson) had us thinking about group roles in the classroom. I'll admit, I've never given much thought about groups roles, assuming that students knew they needed to do the work that I prescribed. Why oh why do I assume so much?
Kathy warned us about her previous mistakes of not keeping the students "honest" about their roles. If the teacher didn't follow through, then neither would the students. She specifically mentioned a role where there was one student in the group who was allowed to ask the teacher questions, if she (the teacher) answered another student, well then she broke her own rule. We brainstormed for a bit and came up with the idea of group role necklaces.
Ambassador - The only student who can ask the teacher questions. This student is the one who can walk around the room to get materials, hand in materials, or even discuss the assignment with other groups.
Auditor - This student is the one who "checks" things. He checks to make sure everyone understands, he checks all work before it is handed in, he "checks" to make sure everyone voice is heard.
Manager - Keeps the group on task and moving forward.
Interpreter (optional) - Reads the problem aloud, and summarizes the activity/problem/solution.
I was afraid the necklaces would have been a little too kiddy for my students, but again I stand corrected. They loved them and some didn't want to give them back at the end of class.
I felt this went smoother then just telling the students what their role was, mostly because there was a physical reminder hanging around their neck.
Did it help academically? Yes, I think so. I'm usually the manager when it comes to group work, but now I get to pass that responsibility onto the students. If I noticed that one group was off task, I would yell "Who's the manager of this group?!?!" Next, thing you know the manager is doing his job and didn't need to be reminded of it again. If I noticed that one student was being left behind, I reminded the auditor of her job.
The result? We only completed a worksheet for this activity, but the work was next to perfect. Perfect!! Now, that alone is quite an accomplishment. However, remember my last post about the silent lesson? This activity was done right on the heels of that lesson. That means, I did not teach the student how to graph two variable linear inequalities, and they're handing in work that is near perfect. Way to go students!!!