Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Group of One


I had a really easy week covering a class that had a student teacher. He did all the work. Well, except for that one period...

On this day he had to leave early as he had a job interview. So, I would be actually doing my job.

It was 7th grade world history. They're finishing up the Middle Ages and starting on the Renaissance. (Middle school world history goes up to the Renaissance. High school world history starts there and goes through modern day.)

They were to get into groups of four. Then they would look up (on the Internet) Marco Polo and the Medici family. They were to find a number of facts about each. This was to lead into talking about these topics.

I introduced the assignment and released them to get into groups. (This was the "advanced" class, so they could be trusted to work with their friends.) Two students had paired up but needed two more to join their group. I went looking for other students similarly situated.

Mostly, they were in groups of four. I found one student on his own. I told him there was a group he could join. He didn't want to.

"Can I work alone?"

The assignment was set up so each person in the group had less work to do. As a solo, he'd have to do four times the work as the rest of the students. I pointed out that working with a group would make his job easier. He said he'd rather work alone.

I said he could, and I went looking for others to join that first pair. I found another girl who also wanted to work alone.

Eventually, I found a third for their group, but alas, no fourth.

There is a mentality among some "advanced" students of perfectionism. They don't like working with others. (Even though this wasn't the sort of assignment that really called for being all that perfect.)

The funny thing was, the students still scrambling at the end of the period were the students in groups. The solo students were completely finished. (Perhaps they were on to something...)

21 comments:

  1. Hi Liz - I'm sure ... it's easier sometimes working on one's own and not discussing all sorts of povs that don't make sense to one ... but interesting to read about - cheers Hilary

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  2. I bet those who chose to work alone had worked in a lot of group settings that ended up scrambling at the last minute, so they learned by experience so to speak to request to work alone if at all possible.

    betty

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  3. I think Betty might be on to something; maybe their group experiences just weren't that good before. Or maybe they were just having one of those days where they didn't feel like having much interaction. I definitely have days like that.

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    1. They're in the 7th grade. How many group projects could they have possibly done before now?

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  4. I wish I could sat on the world history class. History been one of my favor classes

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  5. Sometimes it's easier to do it all by yourself rather than have to wait for someone else to finish their part.

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    1. I think that's what got them this time.

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  6. I would have preferred to work on my own as well. I've been burned in the past by class projects with groups where someone slacked and it affected my grade even though I did all of my portion

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  7. *slowly raising hand to confess I would have been one of the work alones* I was burned so many times by groups, plus, in a group you having differing opinions about what is/isn't important, go off on tangents more easily... but working in groups is an essential skill to master for the workplace, so some times they'll just have to deal with it.

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    1. All true. That's why they have them do more and more group projects. Although, on this day it wasn't the sort of thing that required too much effort on any one student's part.

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  8. I always worked in groups if told to, but I learned to trust my gut and not believe that someone else might "know" something better than I did. Some California girl in my COLLEGE geography class pointed to the city we were to label and said it was L.A. I *knew* it was San Diego, but you know, she was from California, so her opinion won the group. I WAS RIGHT! I was usually the smart one in a group, but I hid it well.

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    1. Ah yes, there's always one in the group who thinks they're the expert. (She thought San Diego was L.A.? Where in California was she from? Because, seriously, L.A. is not at the bottom of the state.)

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  9. Part of working in groups is also learning to work with others, solve differences in opinion as to the direction the project should go, etc. I hate group assignments. I think part of that comes from being an extreme introvert. This kid may be the same way. My daughters don't like group work, either. I encourage them to do it and learn from it. The trouble is that it only takes one screw off to ruin the group dynamic. This is a big part of life, though. In most jobs you must work with others at some point. Better to learn how to do that early on.

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    1. That's one of the reasons Common Core encourages more group work (because that's how the world of work works).

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  10. I wish I could remember what sort of history lessons we had in jr high. I certainly don't remember group work at all.

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    1. We didn't do any, either. It's a Common Core thing. They want more group assignments.

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  11. I feel sorry for those students who never get chosen for groups. The Medici family would be interesting to research!

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    1. They had groups they could join. They chose not to. (I was checking groups to make sure everyone who wanted to work together could.) When it becomes a major issue, I'll assign groups.

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  12. Oh, gosh, there have been times when I've worked on a committee and thought the end result could've been accomplished sooner and with less drama if done alone or with some other worker bee.

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    1. If only your boss let you work alone ;)

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