So, I picked 1 group that seemed to work well together the day before, and a table next to them. I then asked the whole class to get their composition book and pencil and without talking surround the two tables. We were going to silently observe them use their study team roles to start and complete the first 2 problems of the lesson 8.2.2. I selected these because the first problem set is review of exponents from yesterday's lesson where they had to write the multiplying of power numbers in a simpler form. The second problem involved error analysis where the student correctly expanded the powers, but put addition signs between them and multiplied them out instead of writing them in simplified exponent form.
I asked students take notes on positive actions and actions the team could improve upon. After they finished, we would debrief right there, of course starting with the positives. Then we talked about what they could improve, and then they returned to their seats and I said now show that you can do it just as good or better!
In first period, here were my observations:
First off, the facilitator immediately asked, "who wants to read?" I then heard one student claim they read first last time, so they didn't want to read. The person that agreed to read was reading fast and mumbling. They weren't reading clearly. I think it was to draw attention to themselves...? J was saying his work aloud, saying how he was expanding the power number or writing it in factored form. T from the other group was doing the same. J asked V, "Are you on 8-60?" One member didn't write it in simplified exponent form, but went back and fixed it. When we debriefed, students noticed that two of the group members barely said anything. In the other group, I complimented I for responding to a students answer by saying, "OK. Why?" That was a great example of a student prompting another for their reasoning. We also talked about how the recorder reporter should have been looking at everyone's paper to be sure it was written correctly to move on. The next day one student asked if we were doing a fish bowl again. I said, "No. Why?" He said that if he was in the group that's the fish bowl he could get a head start on his work... (He usually works ahead, but has gotten better at it with my reinforcements of not doing so)
In second period, a student started reading right away, but skipped the introduction! In the other group, they started reading right away, but the introduction first. Group 6 moved on when they were done, and confirmed with their group that everyone was done. Group 7 moved on to the next problem, without going over the answers to 8-59. I observed some weren't finished, and didn't speak up. Group 6 moved on, but didn't write it in simplified exponent form. In the debrief, we saw how both groups started quickly. One moved on too quickly without making sure the group was ready. Also, group 6 didn't fully read the directions of writing it in a simpler form. This reinforced making sure you understood what the question was asking.
In fifth period, both groups started reading quickly. A suggested an idea. A also asked, "Are you done writing that down?" In the other group, M confirmed that they agreed with another group members idea. There also were no arguments about who wanted to read. One higher student didn't have the courage to speak up about disagreeing about the team's idea. C suggested an idea. One student said, "It'd be like..." which I mentioned in the debrief. as a good way to describe how you are going to write it, and to get confirmation from your group. When students shared, they said that A was dominating the discussion and not giving other team members a time to share their ideas, or use wait time. I talked about how as teachers we need to give students wait or think time, and students need to give each other time to think also. We also liked how there was some positive nervous clapping when they got an answer right and all agreed.
So, in conclusion, this is a great study team strategy. It's perfect to do when you feel like students aren't working together as well as they can and to remind students what the expectations are, by seeing what you should and shouldn't do.
Also, I thought it would put the other groups way behind, but they had heard the discussions before, so it made their start a little more smoother and efficient because they had listened to two different groups.