Education Opinion

Spice Up Your Student Group Work: A Self-Selection Tool

By Megan M. Allen — September 19, 2016 1 min read
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Guest blog alert! I am so excited to share this tool created by veteran teacher Leslie LaRocca that I am just salivating. Enjoy and let us know if you try the tool on for size.

Most students will say that there are few things more frustrating than being put into a group that doesn’t work well together, then having a task to accomplish. Most teachers will agree: seeing this happen in their classroom is exasperating.

As the new school year roared to life, I found myself wondering: how can I best organize instructional groups to maximize student success - especially when I don’t know my new students very well?

As a history teacher, when in doubt, I turn to the ancient Greeks who would say “know thyself.” With that maxim in mind, I set out to create a tool that would allow students to self-identify which roles they best played in a group. Students, by completing the flowchart, were led to one of the following roles:

  • Guiding Lights: the leaders of a group, who keep other group members on task and see the big picture;

  • Brainstormers: the creative members of a group who can motivate and inspire;

  • Topic Experts: group members who are particularly passionate or knowledgeable about relevant subjects; and

  • Worker Bees: those group members who get great pleasure at completing the task at hand.

With this student data in hand, I was able to make instructional groups that allowed students to maximize their strengths and work together more efficiently.

Check out Leslie’s teacher created tool here.

Leslie LaRocca graduated from Mt. Holyoke in 2003, and is thrilled to be back for her Masters in Teacher Leadership! She’s spent the last eleven years teaching social studies and advising the student newspaper at an all-boys high school in Boston. When Leslie isn’t at school, she enjoys cooking and traveling. She currently lives in Belmont, Mass. with her husband, Bob, her daughter, Rose, and their cat, Pepper.

Photo courtesy of the San Jose Library.

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