In today’s practice my visit, the students first completed a journal prompt about what it would have been like to be a Pilgrim sailing over on the Mayflower to the New World. Then, the students had to fill out a worksheet that categorized the new colonies into regions (North, Middle, and South) and then chronologically ordered them. Following this, students were split into groups to further research the characteristics of a specific region of colonies, using the textbook. The students, later this week, will share what they found with the rest of the class.
Today’s big takeaway was simply the reinforcement of the importance of group work and letting students own heir learning. Many times in classes throughout my educational experience I have worked either individually or with others to take on a topic and then teach it to the rest of my peers. Even now, in my senior year of college, I am doing that in one of my classes, and I know that such an activity is commonly found in many professions, undoubtedly in educational occupations. The skills of collaboration and being able to teach others the knowledge you have learned are essential not only on the classroom, but beyond. By having students teach others, you require that they really know what they are talking about – it’s a deeper learning than if they had just read the sections in the textbook; they have to own it.
Connected to this idea is the significance of being aware of group dynamics. My teacher allowed students to select their first and second choices for which region they were going to study. She collected their preferences and then she created the groups based on those and on her knowledge of who would work well together and who would not. This is essential to maintaining the classroom because if she had just let friends work together, the task might not get accomplished and consequently the learning might not have taken place. Her intentional group setting aimed to make groups that would be productive and thus be able to benefit the whole class, for if one group failed to learn, the whole class would have too.