Posted by: ketheredge | August 4, 2010

Group work made easy: Strategies for implementing group projects in your classroom

office meeting Best practices in teaching establish that teachers need to create opportunities for group work and collaboration.  Organizing group work, however, is a challenge.  Organizing students into groups, managing class time, encouraging students to collaborate outside of class, finding methods to grade fairly, dealing with the students who do very little on the project and the ones who want to take control of everything  – all of these tasks make group work a challenge.  Despite the challenges, I believe it is imperative we do not throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water and refuse to do group work in our classes.  The skills learned while collaborating on a common task are some of the most important skills our students will need for their future.  If, for example, the student who wants to control everything for fear of a bad grade never has the opportunity to practice communicating with his team members and delegating work with the team, what have I taught him?  How well will he be prepared when he enters the workforce and has to work on a project with 20 other people?  No, the lessons learned from group work are too valuable to ignore.  The key, then, is to find strategies that help everyone, myself and my students, work together to create our end product.

Today I have the honor of conducting a mini-classroom session at Microsoft’s booth at ISTE 2010.  I will discuss how Office 2010, Office Web Apps, and Windows Live SkyDrive can help teachers organize group work so that students work efficiently in and out of the classroom.  In preparation for the presentation, I created a folder on SkyDrive that has my PowerPoint for the session, a OneNote notebook that contains ideas for how to use OneNote in your classroom as well as resources for group work, and rubrics and other resources you can use in your classroom with group projects.  You can find the SkyDrive Folder here

I hope these resources help you with your plans to help students practice their skills of communication and collaboration in group settings.  What other resources do you use?

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