Comprehension Corner

How Do I Improve Group Work?

Comprehension Corner
What Strategies Do Good Readers Use?
What Are Fix-Up Strategies?
What Are Comprehension Constructors?
How Do I Use Modeling Effectively?
What Are Accessible Texts?
What Are Text Sets?
How Do I Make Reading More Purposeful?
How Do I Improve Group Work?
What Does Engaging Instruction Look Like?
How Do I Promote Transfer?
What Strategies Promote Comprehension?
What Are Inquiry Units?
How Do I Create Opportunities for Social Learning?
How Do I Promote Questioning?
Where Can I Learn More?
Meet the Author

Tovani 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.


Forming and Guiding Groups

  • 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.


Suggestions for Groups to Share about Reading

         Give an overview of what’s been read so far

         Share something interesting from the book. For example:

o   a character’s action

o   an opinion about something that’s happened

o   a question

o   a provocative part

o   a confusing part

         Share your thinking about a quote

         Consider asking your own questions that don’t have simple answers

         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


For further reading, see Do I Really Have to Teach Reading, Chapter 7.

Last updated: July 9, 2008

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