Using Groups in the Classroom

Check out our list of tips for using groups in the classroom.

Learning occurs through social interaction. Utilizing groups in lesson design help to foster more effective and meaningful interaction. Groups can stay together throughout a unit, for a week, or a lesson for a few minutes, depending on your purpose

Utilize a variety of grouping practices in the class. Carry the groups flexible depending on your purpose. Understand what your goal is and assign groups accordingly. Don’t allow learners to group themselves.

If you use small groups or learners working on class projects, find a device that will get their attention if you need to make an announcement. Devices could be wands, timers, bells, or whistles. Have learners practice what they need to do when they use one of the devices.

Once using groups to facilitate learning, assign the groups yourself. This gives you the opportunity to pair learners according to their learning style or knowledge level so they can learn from one another.

Keep the size of groups small, from two to five learners. This gives each learner an opportunity for interaction.

Regularly ask a group to present their info to another group. This will hold the learners accountable for their learning.

Cooperative learning is more than placing learners into groups. It is about planning a lesson that intentionally uses small groups. Cooperative learning is an efficient way of building learning communities, providing peer support, teaching social skills, and collaborating to solve problems or produce a product.

Create groups based on your purpose. You want a cross-section of learners in each group. Start to build the “all for one and one for all” belief by telling learners that they are in this group to help one another succeed.

Once specifically using cooperative learning, you need to assign groups of three to five learners, each with a specific role. Finding a specific role for each learner is difficult if you have more than five. Each individual in the group needs a task. The roles can include the leader, the recorder, the observer, the reporter, the taskmaster, the activity director, and the process observer. Cooperative groups must have assigned roles.

Learners may not be taught social skills in a class. Cooperative learning provides an appropriate setting for these skills to be taught.

Adopt a commitment to the group through interdependence. Every group member is dependent on the other members. Learners will need to work together.

Evaluate individual achievement by holding learners accountable for their learning by giving quizzes, tests, and written papers during a cooperative learning lesson.

Learners need to review how they worked as a group. You can provide them with a form or ask them for oral feedback. You should also give them feedback about what you observed during the lesson.

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