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Using Groups for Classroom Management in a Primary School - A Young Teacher's Guide

April 24, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 161


I was supervising a composite Year 1/2 class as a substitute/relief teacher where a trainee teacher was using groups to help her classroom management. It proved to be most effective. She was using a technique that she saw her supervising teacher use with the class. What follows is the result of my observation of the process and a discussion of the process with both the trainee teacher and her supervising teacher. Apparently, this process is used widely.

Group Selection

The supervising teacher explained that she would begin to use the groups only after she became aware of the following factors in her class.

1. Friendship groups 2. Behaviour issues/problems 3. Academic performance of students 4. Learning problems

This data usually took approximately one school term (ten weeks) to gain. Then she would create the groups taking the following into consideration.

• Ratio of boys to girls in the class was maintained. • Friendship groups - she always made sure that each child had a friend in the group, not necessarily a best friend. • There was a spread of academic prowess in each group. • Students who were behaviour problems would be separated from each other throughout the groups.

Some Further Points To Note

1. Initially, in her composite Year 1/2 class, she created separate Year 1 and Year 2 groups. She found that it did not work well, particularly in terms of how long it took the Year 1 groups when compared to the Year 2 groups. She quickly changed the groups to combined Year 1/2 groups. This worked well, with the Year 2s acting as mentors for the Year 1s.

2. Groups were reformed each term with different personnel and, maybe, a new name.

3. Once groups were formed, the students themselves decided what their group name should be. This gave a sense of ownership to the groups whenever they decided on their own name. You, as the teacher, would only intervene if you felt the group name was inappropriate. Then you would encourage them to select a more appropriate name. You might even give them some suggestions or examples. Here are some of the group names the class used: The Broncos, The Roaring Lions, The Awesome Team to name just three.

4. The groups had, in this class, five students each. If a major problem developed among the group quickly, changes could be made to group personnel to alleviate the problem/s.

How The Groups Were Used:

1. Group learning situations 2. Movement around the class from one activity to another with one group moving at a time 3. Easy dismissal at breaks 4. Allocation of learning tasks 5. Classroom duties such as board cleaning, answering the phone, closing windows 6. Points could be awarded to create a competitive environment among the groups to do well.

Points Were Awarded For:

• Finishing work on time • Getting ready for the next lesson • Having a neat, clean area • Helping each other or one person who needs help • Working well as a group • Quick clean-ups • Quiz results (my inclusion) • And any other reason you deem appropriate

How Points Were Awarded:

Points were awarded on a comparison basis for most situations, with the best group getting the most points and the worst the least. However, all teams received some points. Occasionally, if a group did something special, additional points were awarded.

Points were rarely deducted. If you decide to introduce this, points could be lost for:

• Lateness • Noise • Poor work ethic • Untidiness • Litter in their area • Lack of cooperation in the group

Deducting points should be done only as a last resort and to emphasize a point you want to make. For the class teacher I spoke to, she reduces the need to deduct points by the way she allocates points from best to worst. Deducting points in higher year levels might work as motivation but for lower school classes, I think it would be counter-productive.

The awarding of points was done publicly with explanations as to why points were awarded. Each groups' points were always displayed where all could see. This keeps the "competition" on show at all times.

Some students, in the lower grades in particular, were uncomfortable working in group scenarios. As a result, the teacher could award points to these students for some desirable activity that they have performed to keep them involved.

Some teachers create gold, silver and bronze medals which they put in an opaque jar. Students select the medal from the jar to get mystery points. Each medal has an appropriate number of points that are added to their group score.

This article is but an introduction to the use of groups in the primary classroom. Once you have begun using groups at this level effectively, seek out publications to help extend your skill in using them. There are numbers of publications available on group or cooperative learning. For further information on group or cooperative learning, please refer to our eBook entitled "Cooperative Learning" which can be found on our website Our author, Rick Boyce, uses cooperative learning as part of his teaching strategies in high school Mathematics classes. He found these strategies to enhance the understanding of his students.

Source: EzineArticles
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