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    • #14110
      Dr. Mooney
      Keymaster

      There are many benefits of engaging students in small group discussions in the class. However, there are definitely some cons of letting students talk. What are the downsides you have experienced of having students work in small groups? How do you address these challenges in your classroom?

      Read about the benefits of small groups in – Encouraging Academic Talk with Small Groups.

      • This topic was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Dr. Mooney.
      • This topic was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Dr. Mooney.
      • This topic was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Dr. Mooney.
    • #14118
      Erica Fain
      Participant

      Managing the conversations in all of your groups can be challenging! Here’s a simple strategy that can be employed to help keep the “Chatty Cathy” from doing all of the talking; it’s called Talking Chips:

      How to implement:
      1. Ask a question to elicit discussion.
      2. Distribute the same number of talking chips to each member of the group.
      3. Each time a member contributes to the discussion, s/he places a chip in the center of the table.
      4. Once individuals are out of chips, they can no longer speak.
      5. Continue the discussion until all chips are exhausted.

      Why use Talking Chips:
      1. The chips provide structure to small group discussions.
      2. The chips ensure all students get an opportunity to contribute.

      Talking chips can be any type of manipulative- teddy bears, math counting chips, even poker chips!

      Thanks for your well-organized forum, Dr. Mooney! What a valuable resource for teachers of English Learners!

    • #14120
      Dr. Mooney
      Keymaster

      I love this suggestion! The chips would also be a visible reminder that some students haven’t had the chance to talk, yet. As a teacher, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of who has spoken and who hasn’t. Once students have practice using the chips, I think they could easily use them to self-manage their small group discussions. Thanks for sharing this idea, Erica!

    • #14121
      Veronica Jones
      Participant

      Dr. Mooney, Thank you for sharing all those benefits of a small group. I would say the benefits definitely outweigh the cons! As a classroom teacher, I’ve always had small groups to help me accommodate individual learners. The small groups allowed me to target certain skills with a group of children needing additional help or teaching at a higher level for those students needing enhancement of a challenge. One of the cons or problems was trying to keep the distraction down and keeping ALL students ON TASK during group time. I never wanted to give work that looked like busywork such as crossword puzzles or write the spelling words 10 times each. BORING! I tried to design small groups that had unique fun things for students to share and help each other. I would have five or six students with approximately five or six students per group. The technology was always my friend too! Students enjoyed rotating and communicating with their peers during small group center time. There were days when the schedule did not allow for centers and my students would sigh with disappointment. Another con or problem was when my students would need my attention during their work stations while I was with my small reading group. I once used a hat as a signal to disturb me during my small group until they have asked the leader of the group and two others. Another con or problem is having to constantly pan the room as you are trying to zero in on some deficits in your small reading group. I am now a resource ESL teacher and I have small group pullouts. I have a range of 4 to 8 students at a time and small groups are phenomenal! I do not have the cons of distractions and students being off task in my ESL program.

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