As an instructor I have always had difficulty finding the descriptors to use when talking with students about productive group work, and only in the last few years have I gotten smart about it. I clearly hadn’t been thinking. Then, I began modeling and discussing productive group work indicators. Instructors want to honor students’ work as well as provide valuable feedback as students will be using these soft skills well beyond their secondary educations. Productive group work, though, becomes frustrating, difficult, and exhausting when group participants involve themselves on varying levels. This, too, has proven incredibly frustrating for me over course of my teaching career.
As with anything in our classrooms—any skill at all—from teaching students how to be respectful of property, to teaching students what to do when they enter the classroom—these are SKILLS to be taught. And to these ends, I have worked over the past few years to construct a feedback and evaluation system for my secondary classroom.
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I’ve always been a fan of the ten-minute paragraph. Okay! Okay! At the beginning of the school year, I begin with a 15-minute paragraph and then widdle down the time over the first few weeks. The ten-minute paragraph is amazing! And the ten-minute paragraph is amazing for all subject areas! It’s short. It forces writers to dive in--and right now! The task comes with an ending. And that’s the end. Done. These formative assessments take very little time to read, yet they can provide teachers with myriad data. Teachers can evaluate the skill(s) and/or content that they’ve just introduced, that students have recently practiced, that teachers are considering to assess summatively. Students become better thinkers and consequently better writers.
Consider the following:
For a longer discussion, check out this link from Edutopia.