Students in groups need ‘clues’ about the expectations while they are in groups. No one likes to surge ahead blindly. So, what do group leaders need to share?
Outline your expectations and judge your time constraints. It’s a challenge to make everything fit. Check out this example for a 35 minute group beginning a new activity (time required is in parenthesis):
Arrive to the group quietly and sit down ready to work (2)
Participate in opening activity (3-5)
Listen to directions (3-5)
Begin working (5)
Leader check-in at 5 minutes to check understanding (1-2)
Continue working (15-17)
Ending 5-minute check (1)
Cleanup and closure (3-4)
Lots to consider. It’s hard to make everything fit, but, every part of this plan is important. Obviously you can’t skip any steps through the time spent working on the task. But, the ending steps (ending 5-minute check, cleanup and closure) should not be omitted either. The reminder gives students a needed heads up that they need to find a way to end their work. Cleanup is a student responsibility. Closure ties up the activity through a brief reminder of what was done and why it was important to do.
So, what should you do? Plan out your minutes. Streamline your task so students get the most benefit from their time with you. It matters.