January 28, 2004
Middle school students are social beasts, and because of that I often do small group work and use this activity. However, when I have to work with a small group on a particular concept, this activity also works well. I will put the class into small groups and have them participate in a WOW! activity. This is an activity I picked up during student teaching from my cooperating teacher. It keeps students on task and learning, and it is a hit with them. At the beginning of the year, the students brainstorm the positive aspects and negative aspects of working in a small group, and we list and discuss them. We then discuss their experiences with successful groups and compile a list of what an effective group does. The lists are practically the same for all classes: 1) Be polite and call each other by name. 2) One person talks at a time--don't interrupt. 3) Everyone participates. 4) Stay on task. I get the small groups going with their assignment and then monitor the groups for a few minutes. Then I will work with the one group that especially needs my attention. When I give them time for independent practice I walk around and monitor the other groups. The students know I am watching and listening because I record the positive comments and behaviors I hear and see as well as the negative ones. I share this with the class before I give the WOW stickers at the end of class. After 4 WOW stickers students can drop a zero homework grade, earn a homework pass, get fifteen minutes of free time to read or listen to music, etc.