Groups of Individuals

By Adrian Gray

I am often asked how group work can be effectively used to stretch students whilst still assessing their contribution as individuals. I am sure we have often been aware that some individuals work hard when in groups whereas others sit back and try and benefit from peers work.

Cross over groups

Ideally you need the same amount of students as topics to research/present. The following is based on a class of 20 which seems pretty average. You can double a few students up to take account of odd numbers.

So, for example, the class need to research the causes of crime in society and the social effects.

TOPIC 1: causes of crime as explained in humanistic theory.

TOPIC 2: causes of crime in terms of behaviourist theory.

TOPIC 3: causes of crime in terms of cognitive theory.

TOPIC 4: causes of crime in terms of psychoanalytical theory.

TOPIC 5: effects of crime on society.

You should have groups as below (shown in different colours for each grouping)

TOPIC 1 2 3 4 5
STUDENTS STUDENT 1A STUDENT

1B

STUDENT

1C

STUDENT 1D STUDENT 1E
STUDENT

2A

STUDENT 2B STUDENT 2C STUDENT 2D STUDENT 2E
STUDENT 3A STUDENT 3B STUDENT 3C STUDENT 3D STUDENT 3E
STUDENT 4A STUDENT 4B STUDENT 4C STUDENT 4D STUDENT

4E

Thus there are five topics for each group to meaningfully research. The topics can be changed according to the lesson. For instance the effect of crime on society could be divided to cover gender, race, income, status and age thereby making the lesson very diversity based.

Having decided the topics to be examined the student profile should be used to compile the groups; group A (that is all the students shown as A in the table) etc. You may decide that some topics are easier than others and thereby put those less confident in those groups, others topics will be more challenging and those that need stretching could be put in that group and so on.

A time restraint should be put on the task. How students manage the task is may be the beginning of learning. Make links to industry; not everyone should do the same things, you need a scribe, IT, researcher, literature researcher, timekeeper and manager to name a few. Indeed having run several assessment centres involving public services this format of group work is regularly used to assess confidence, reliability and other desired character traits.

The students must be informed that they must individually be able to report and explain the group finding. Each student must have their own notes.

Just how well the students follow these instructions will be evident in the next stage. Here the students are put into new groups as below;

TOPIC 1 2 3 4 5
STUDENTS STUDENT 1A STUDENT

1B

STUDENT

1C

STUDENT 1D STUDENT 1E
STUDENT

2A

STUDENT 2B STUDENT 2C STUDENT 2D STUDENT 2E
STUDENT 3A STUDENT 3B STUDENT 3C STUDENT 3D STUDENT 3E
STUDENT 4A STUDENT 4B STUDENT 4C STUDENT 4D STUDENT

4E

This means that you get an ‘expert’ on each topic in a new group of students. Thus, you put all of the number 1s together and so on. Each student in the new group is then made responsible for ‘teaching’ the others about their topic. It will be quickly evident if any student has not correctly understood the topic researched and the tutor must monitor this.

The next stage, once all of the learning has been shared as above, is to evaluate how much the students have learnt. This is carried out by a representative from each of the groups selecting at random a piece of paper on which you have numbered the topics. Thus, if the ‘number 1’ students pick out topic 3 they will be required to present on cognitive theory and so on. By doing this the students have to review their knowledge of the topic selected and display this knowledge/ understanding to the rest of the class. Because the rest of the class should already have a good knowledge of every topic (by going through the stages above) they are expected to question and challenge the presentations.

It will be noted that this evaluation misses one topic; there were 5 at the start and only 4 are being presented. The missing presentation could be covered in a wash-up plenary where students are directly asked questions on that topic.

Each student could then be required to log their learning on a ‘arrow of discovery’. More about that in my next article…

 

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Independent Thinking

By Cheryl Philpott

Team building events can be a positive way of engaging your students to work together, boost morale and learn new skills and people.

  • Set differentiated individual tasks and set open tasks for stronger students as they can interpret these in a more demanding way.
  • Buddy up students who can help each other, peer checking, peer tutoring, learning teams.
  • Clear and challenging objectives set which are understood by students, who then see how they meet them and develop independent learning skills.

Recently students created an event to promote awareness of Alopecia and the effects it has on people emotionally. Instead of using text books and the internet to research, they created an event where they put information boards up around the college regarding the signs and symptoms and emotional effects of the condition and provided workshops to the public using consultations to reassure anybody who may be experiencing signs and symptoms of the condition.

The research was carried out by inviting a guest speaker in with the condition. The students were able to experience the emotional effects of the condition first hand by engaging with someone who suffers from it using their story and guidance on how to deal with the emotional side of the condition enabling them to gain skills so if someone presents them with the condition they will feel much more confident with dealing with the impact the condition has on the client.

Feedback was encouraged from all learners so the tutor was aware of their opinions, using evaluations at the end of the task.

  • Use self-evaluation, ask the students to set themselves targets on how to aim higher and keep motivation high while on the course.
  • Set individual goals and targets with their feedback in mind. This will help you determine what’s needed to  increase their motivation.
  • Have a reward program in place, this is an effective way to encourage the students to aim higher.  This could be as simple as a reward chart that is filled in during the term with a prize at the end of term. This doesn’t always have to be financial it could be discount products or trips out.

Recognition = Motivation!

My Back to the Floor

By Ray Vidler

Last month’s ‘Back To The Floor’ Continuous Professional Development CPD day, I attended a site meeting requested by a medium size electrical contractor. Present at the meeting was the client’s project manager, architect, surveyor, mechanical & electrical consultant and site manager. It was a very well structured meeting and therefore was an excellent platform for all concerned, to showcase their technical knowledge which highlighted their high level of ‘Professional Practise’. This was my Lightbulb moment and I decided to make this a lesson.

The CPD experience enabled me to evaluate and reflect on how the curriculum I delivered over this academic year relates to current industry practise, innovation and professionalism. The two areas that could be developed were Innovation and professional practise, so referring to the curriculum and the scheme of works, I looked at where these two areas could be advanced. Being a vocational industry where professional standards and values underpin technical design & practise, I decided to use my recent CPD experience to advance these two areas.

Lesson Planning:

Lesson planning consisted of referring to my group profile and student seating plan to create our own ‘site meeting’ with different table groups being nominated a subject to research as a team and deliver to a ‘Project Management Team’ with a view to having their presentation analysed by the project team who intends to report their findings to the client i.e the lecturer, me.

The Lesson:

Each table group was given a different renewable energy source to research with appropriate literature and computers to enable them to put forward a proposal to the ‘Project Management Team’ who would then forward their proposal to the client i.e myself.

The Outcome:

All students were engaged in independent learning with researching their renewable energy source. This involved teamwork empathising the organisation and analysing of data. This enhanced professionalism on how they delivered their presentations. The ‘Project Management Team’ was exceptional in researching each form of renewable energy source and analysing the positives and negatives and shaping their decisions after each table gave their presentation. The ‘Project Management Team’ then professionally presented their findings to the client i.e me and their recommendations.

Lesson Feedback:

From the feedback I gained from the students I was satisfied that they were happy having their presentations scrutinised by an independent team and they all appreciated the importance of professional values.

 

Take Control of your Room!

By Russell Griffiths

A common theme among the people I meet when coaching is difficulty establishing behaviour expectations. If you build routine into the classroom then the learners will feel safer, know what is expected of them (and what they can expect of you) and react to the environment that you are setting.

One thing that I came across during observing my coachees was a distinct lack of routine and especially at the start of the session. So with my coachees we completed some peer observations on each other as well as looking at some of the various research into behaviour management and developed an agreed best practise start to the session, focussed on taking control of your room… After all it is your classroom and you are in charge!

Enter the classroom under your control

Meet them at the door with non-confrontational statements e.g. thank you for being on time, nice to see you’re ready to come in. Remind them of what you expect in the room, coats, hats, lanyards etc.

Informal chit-chat e.g. How did football go at the weekend? New coat or shoes?

Clear instruction

Use this time to tell them what is happening, e.g. I want you to come in and sit at your desk, pens out folders out and start the activity on your desk please. All of this before they’ve even entered the room.

Repeat this instruction so everyone is clear

Have the instruction on the board to reinforce what you want them to do.

Praise learners who are following every instruction

Prepare the room

Seating plan with differentiation… e.g. more advanced learners with lower levels, mixed ability English and maths, troublemakers split up.

Activity and equipment ready on desks for learners.

Instructions for starter on the board

Repeat and reinforce

Repeat instructions

Reinforce good behaviour

Address any issues with learners directly

Even remove from room to reinforce instructions one-one this will filter out issues

Last step

Any last students that are not ready to come in, no lanyard hat coat etc speak directly calmly honestly.

Explain the issue e.g. I need you in this room, I need you to be ready for our session today, I want you to be the best you possibly can be for the next hour.

Motivate and reward all learners every time. Make them feel good about themselves and reward good behaviour (praise, thanks, even a chocolate)

Recap

Enter the class under your terms

Prepare the environment

Repeat and reinforce

Motivate and praise

Good luck!

I’m late, I’m late for a very important date!

By Karen McCafferty

We all know how important it is to challenge late-coming in class but it can be very disruptive to learners already in the room if you stop mid flow to speak to late-comers. (It also gives them a chance to make a grand entrance).

A couple of years ago I started using YOU ARE LATE cards as shown below. I have also shared this resource with colleagues who have adapted and used it, so it is tried and tested.

 YOU ARE LATE

1 Sit down quietly and don’t disturb anyone else’s learning.

2 Make sure your lanyard is around your neck or clearly visible on the desk in front of you.

3 Switch your phone off and put it in your bag.

4 Get your books, folder, pen and calculator out – be ready to learn.

5 Stay behind at the end of the lesson to return this card and explain your absence to your tutor.

I had a few of these printed on bright orange paper and laminated. As the late student enters, you can hand them a card without saying anything (or leave a pile by the door and train students to pick one up if they come in late).  Since the cards are printed on bright orange paper they are clearly visible so you are less likely to forget to ask the student to explain their late-coming at the end of the lesson.

Instructions can be adapted to suit your own course requirements.

Mark and his team in the Copy Shop will laminate resources for you, but please give them plenty of notice as laminating is a time consuming job.

Some departments do have alternative ways of dealing with late-coming, eg students complete a ‘late slip’ so check what your department policy is to ensure consistency across the teaching team.

OMG it’s TDC

Love them or loathe them three letter abbreviations (TLA) are endemic within education. When I first started in education I was instantly reminded of the scene in the film ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ in which Robins Williams was ridiculing the instructions given to before the  visit of Richard Nixon, the US Vice President ( VP).

…No, sir. The former vice president is a delight, sir. Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the VP is such a VIP…shouldn’t we keep the PC on the QT, ’cause if it leaks to the VC…he could end up an MIA, and then we’d all be put on KP.

With this in mind and with Christmas coming here is a bit of cheer and a quiz to help you through the TLA jungle.

(To the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas)

On the first day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

a blog from the TES.

 

On the seventh day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Seven SRFs,

Five ALP scores,

Four SARs,

Three LIVs,

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES.

 

On the second day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES

On the eighth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Eight DNAs,

Seven SRFs,

Five ALP scores,

Four SARs,

Three LIVs,

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES.

 

On the third day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Three LIVs,

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES.

 

On the ninth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Nine ELAs,

Eight DNAs,

Seven SRFs,

Five ALP scores,

Four SARs,

Three LIVs,

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES.

 

On the fourth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Four SARs,

Three LIVs,

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES.

 

On the tenth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Ten TLAs,

Nine ELAs,

Eight DNAs,

Seven SRFs,

Five ALP scores,

Four SARs,

Three LIVs,

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES.

 

On the fifth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Five ALP scores,

Four SARs,

Three LIVs,

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES.

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Eleven GLHs

Ten TLAs,

Nine ELAs,

Eight DNAs,

Seven SRFs,

Five ALP scores,

Four SARs,

Three LIVs,

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES.

 

On the sixth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Six SVPs,

Five ALP scores,

Four SARs,

Three LIVs,

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES.

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Twelve AFLs

Eleven GLHs

Ten TLAs,

Nine ELAs,

Eight DNAs,

Seven SRFs,

Five ALP scores,

Four SARs,

Three LIVs,

Two HMIs,

And a blog from the TES.

 

Lightbulb moments….

By Nick Broome

I met with a tutor from Motor Vehicle (Adam Finch) whom I am currently coaching. He shared with me how he uses maths in his lessons and it seemed so good, I thought I would share it.

In class this teacher sets students a task which has an industry-related time allocated to it. The student carries out the task and times it. If the students takes longer to achieve the task than allowed by the industry, he/she records that and the % difference. The tutor then discusses reasons for the disparity in times and guides the student on how to narrow the gap. This data is entered onto a white board which has been pre-populated with industry-specific job related time slots. Once this has been fulfilled, students then work out a bill for the work.

adam maths

Maths is further developed by inspiring the students to ask their maths teachers to explain a mathematical problem related to their core subject area, for example ‘compression-ratios.’ This demonstrates how well maths is not only embedded in this tutor’s lessons, but also how he gets students to further their knowledge by linking their core work within maths lessons. Similarly English is also being developed in terms of persuasive writing. For example, one student is creating a piece of such writing to convince someone of the merits of a particular type of motorcycle. English is used throughout as students need to understand technology, the tasks to be completed and be able to write about them for assessment.