I will do a more thorough recap of Elizabeth Statmore’s (@cheesemonkeysf) excellent TMC session on group work, the aptly named Group Work Working Group, at some point in the future. I need to hash out exactly what this will look like for my classroom this year, in particular the first few days. But in the meantime, I’ve put together some documents that I’ll be using and wanted to share. Don’t want to bury the lede: this link is a Dropbox folder with PDFs of the Talking Points documents we collaborated on.
Quick intro. One idea we spent a lot of time talking about, practicing, and observing was the “Talking Points” activity. It looks like this:
Students are in groups of 3 or 4. They have a list of statements (10-15) on a topic. They take turns stating whether they agree, disagree, or are unsure, and why. Two major rules: 1. Each statement must have a reason — a because statement that justifies it. 2. No comment. Students do not comment on other students’ thoughts — they don’t try to make a joke or win social points — they state their opinion, back it up with a reason, and then pass the mic.
This was hard for us. Commenting is human instinct, but it also takes away from the group’s ability to share ideas, especially partially formed ideas and ideas from students who struggle with math. If students can master No Comment, then they create a space where each member of the group can share openly — and, in the talking points structure, every student has to share, even if they aren’t confident in their opinion.
We would go two times around the circle. — and were surprised how many times we changed our minds hearing each others’ opinions. A third time around we would tally opinions, then move on to the next talking point.
Anyway, the talking points we did in the session were “talking about collaborating” or “talking about questions”. Many of us wanted talking points about math as well. We collaborated on a Google Doc (here), and I finally got around to putting a bunch of them into Word documents and PDFs that I’ll be using this year. This link is a Dropbox folder with all of the Talking Points files that I am aware of. If you have more, please send them along and we can keep a comprehensive collection.
Update: Dropbox link wasn’t working, but should now be fixed.