I was surprised to find my students working so well within their groups. I was fortunate to witness one of my students, have a ‘light-bulb’ moment when he discovered how valuable he can be to his groups’ effort on the assignment. He is still growing emotionally and I thought group work and self-directed learning may be a bit much for him. I therefore kept him in mind when we were in the library and the students broke up to research the particular areas they were assigned. Sure enough, he was at the computer playing games. I enquired why he wasn’t helping his group. I explained to him his input is valuable and he will have something unique to contribute to the group dynamics. I asked what he was assigned to do and why he was given that particular task. It was at that point his eyes lit up and he really began to work. He realized his voice mattered. It still inspires me as a teacher. His new knowledge that he can make a positive difference to his team’s project made him work diligently throughout the day. One of his group members, stated he enjoyed working as a team, “but there was that pressure of letting the team down.” The group went on to make a good sequence about the panda.
Another group worked especially well, in due partly due to the group leaders leadership skills. This particular student is not a leader in my classroom. He sits in the back of the room, is quiet and rarely puts his hand up. However, in the group situation he excelled. His team member stated he “found a lot of information and helped us a lot. He also took control at the same time. He also let us have our own say.” Another member stated “He is good with stuff. He helped me with the question.” And another stated “He kept us all on track and made sure we all knew what we were doing next.” These statements show the level of respect Kendall developed as he worked with his team.
Working as a group challenged the students’ way of thinking and learning. However, finding appropriate sites, design issues and technology was also confronting for Year 7 children. However, most rose to the challenge. She wrote “I asked James how to put my slide show into LAMS and he was very helpful and he also made me do it myself so I can do it now!” James not only helped her, but he knew how to teach her so she could do it herself in the future!
When asked what new skills they believed they gained from the project, students responded with answers such as: “How to teach people”, “I have acquired the skill of teaching in a fun, enjoyable way”, “I think I’m more co-operative and I have more skills on the computer”, “How to responsibly control things in their ‘own class rooms’”, “researching skills and writing skills”, “talking skills, having fun doing a project” and “leadership”. I believe the numerous skills the students have learned whilst doing the project is shown in the survey/self-assessment they completed.