supports using group work because, “Group discussions give students an opportunity to rehearse and construct connections
before they sit down to that daunting blank screen or piece of paper. Small-group
settings also allow me to meet more of the individual needs in my classroom.”
However, Tovani also notes the struggles with group work, “I used to run around the room, like the plate spinner
at the state fair, trying to keep everyone task. Many times group work was just too exhausting to do on a regular basis.” Therefore, Tovani offers guidance to support group work experiences.
In order for students to function during group time, students must share responsibility for establishing procedures.
Begin by asking students to privately list three complaints about previous group work experiences.
Categorize student responses into areas of related concerns.
List these main concerns for students and brainstorm possible solutions.
Model effective group work in front of the students (fishbowl).
Allow students to try working in groups. Monitor the room during this
time and take notes about what is going well and what needs to be improved.
Share these notes with the students, brainstorm solutions if needed, and give students another group work opportunity.
for Groups to Share about Reading
Give an overview of what’s been read so far
Share something interesting from the book. For example:
opinion about something that’s happened
Share your thinking about a quote
Consider asking your own questions that don’t have simple
Ask your group members their opinion
Ask yourself, “Am I just retelling, or sharing my thinking?”
Make a statement or recommendation, and use textual evidence
to support you thinking
further reading, see Do I Really Have to Teach Reading, Chapter 7.