Have you ever conducted a group project in your class and then wished you could be a fly on the wall to see how the groups interacted? I certainly have. I love using group work in my classes because it teaches students such valuable lessons that they can take with them to college, future jobs, and beyond.  Students learn how to interact with different types of people, how to share responsibilities, and how to hold others (and themselves!) accountable to getting the work done.

 

An important way to help students get better at working in groups is to give them feedback and provide examples of productive vs. unproductive group work.  But how can we do that when we aren’t always there to witness the group work, especially in high school when a lot of the work is likely to happen outside of class hours?  You can use SchoolCNXT messaging!  Here’s how to set it up:

 

  • Create a group message with each group. You (the teacher) will start the group, as students can’t initiate messages with peers, but once you’ve created the group, the students in the group can interact with each other.

 

  • Set group work norms. Here’s a set that I’ve used, but you can modify it or create your own!

 

 

Group Work Norms

 

  1. Ensure all group members are participating and included
  2. If you have a question, ask your group-mates before you ask the teacher
  3. Assume positive intent

 

 

  • Check in on each group using SchoolCNXT and look for positive interactions! When you see them, take screenshots and share shout-outs with the class. Not only will this create a positive classroom culture, but it will show students what effective, collaborative group work can and should look like.

 

  • If a group is struggling to interact or is having negative interactions, conference with that group to discuss why this might be happening and come up with solutions together. One way to combat this is to create group roles, such as note-taker, time-keeper, facilitator, question-asker, etc.

 

  • At the end of the project, give feedback to each group highlighting their strengths and offering advice for next time to strengthen the group dynamic even more.

Marisa Ancona, SchoolCNXT Editorial Team and former teacher