A few classes needed to revise at the end of teaching units and I wanted them to collaborate while they did so. I printed off a class set of these small checklists with the first names of everyone in the class.
I also printed some review questions onto colourful card. I separated my tables and spread the questions out over the tables, with two or three on each table. I put some tables facing the wall or the windows so that pairs of students would hopefully focus better on just their partner and the question at hand.
I gave each student a name checklist to glue into their notes and displayed these instructions.
From time to time there were not two students looking for new partners at the same time. As a result, sometimes they would have to work in a group of three. Other times there was one person who had to wait a minute to start their next problem. However, this didn’t happen too much and overall I would say that the students did a lot of work. Sometimes in a revision lesson such as this one, students get bored and lose momentum. Not so during this lesson. They stayed on task until the end (80 minutes later) and completed loads of questions. In the last few minutes of class we checked their work as I displayed the answers on the board.
I have tried this with a few classes now and it has worked well every time. It goes most smoothly when the class size is 20 or more. Though I did try it one day when lots of students were at a field trip and I only had seven learners. That still worked but it was a little harder for students to begin and end questions at the same time as others. it devolved into mixed group work instead.
One time I tried this in my class that has a wheelchair student. This also worked smoothy. I positioned her in a place where she wouldn’t be bumped by others walking by. From time to time I prompted students to go over to her since she can’t come to them.
Some tips for myself and others to make this work well:
- A class size of 20 or more works best.
- It works best if you have enough tables to have at least two empty tables at the start for the first students who finish and find new partners to move to.
- Having three questions on each table means students can sit down at the same table a second or third time with different partners and solve different questions.
- Make sure the questions are numbered (or lettered) and students write these down as they solve. Then sharing the answers becomes easy.
- Mixed revision from several units of study can be done this way. Just mix up the questions around the room.
Do you have ideas about helping students collaborate in math(s) class?