You Oughta Know About...Cooperative Grouping

I'm joining up again this month with Jasmine from Buzzing With Mrs. McClain for the August installment of:
Recently I traveled to San Diego to attend the Sally Ride Science Conference. It was really a "train the trainer" kind of workshop that was about using the Sally Ride e-books in your classroom and integrating career exploration into the science/math curriculum
Well the first day, I walked in, sat down at my assigned table, and noticed that there was the requisite box of markers and post-it chart paper. What does that mean? Group work. Some of us love it, some of us hate it. But, we all do it. So what is the first thing that I always say to any group when we have to start our first activity? I tell them that I have nice handwriting, so I'll write.
As we moved through the training modules, there were times that we would stop to reflect on our personal work habits and strengths. This got me to thinking...just like I know that I want to write (because I don't want to stand up and speak in front of a room full of strangers), our kiddos know what they are comfortable with (and uncomfortable with) as well.
So I made up this little student survey:
Students fill them out and based on their input, you can use these to help create good working groups. Now, you may have to have a good discussion beforehand with your students about "working well with" vs. "hanging out with friends", but for the most part kids want to do the right thing. Usually.
Here's an example of some surveys I filled out based on some of my real-life students. I'm lucky (I think) in that I'm moving up with my little peeps, so I know their personalities. Let's take a look.

I've grouped my three difficult personalities on the left so you can easily compare. These three students know they don't work well together. Don't make them. They will be miserable and so will you. If you look at Daija and Jaida, they are both organizers that like to speak in front of others. In other words they are Bossy Bettys, and should be put in groups with people that like a take-charge personality. You can see that Leslie is easy-going and feels that she can work with anyone. Another thing to consider is that they all know their strengths and weaknesses. Some like to draw, while others like to write. By sorting through these surveys you can create groups that take into consideration how the students feel, and group them with people that have different strengths, so that all can be successful. Some groups may have four students, some may just have two. That's okay. Whatever works for you and your kiddos.
If you would like a copy of the Student Strength Survey, click on the first image.
Y'all have a wonderful back to school.
Karen

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