Monday, January 31, 2011

Topic: Small-group Discussion

Question: Why don’t teachers break the class into small groups?

Answer: The students “are often visiting instead of working.” “Mrs. Smith looks at her 29 seventh graders. ‘Okay, I’m going to have you try to work in small groups again today,’ she begins. ‘but you have to keep the noise down and get your questions answered.’ The students fly out of their seats and into the assigned groups. Mrs. Smith begins circulating the room. Some kids are talking about the book, while others are listening passively, and a few are discussing last night’s basketball game or the breakup of a couple. ‘This just isn’t working,’ Mrs. Smith sighs. Tomorrow she’ll give up on talk and teach from the front. It is just easier.”

Comment: In my book, Teaching English, How To…. I offer a method for teaching the various roles people play in small-group discussion. I will use tomorrow’s blog to share this method with you. RayS.

Title: “Making the Most of Talk.” Carol Gilles. Voices From The Middle (December 2010), 9-15.

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