I got observed the other day and one of the suggestions the person who observed me gave had to do with group discussions, so that’s what I am going to talk about today, but first I am going to build up some suspension……… (not going to spill the beans about what she said yet….).
Grab your coffee, sit comfy and let’s chat, like the good old days (when I blogged almost every single day).
So, group discussions…….. How do you set them up?
I put students in groups without really thinking about who goes where. It’s just a quick, you go here, you go there. I put my students in groups of three or four. Before, I go on rambling, my students are university students and this particular group was a group of post grads
Seminars vs. discussions
In my context group discussions are often called seminars. I usually give students information which is based on a text, texts, a video or videos. You get it. They get a lot of input before the actual seminar starts.
Who’s the leader?
There is always a leader in these groups. Again, someone chosen randomly, although I do tend to pick a more quiet student, just to make sure they they will be more engaged in the convo.
Back to the observed session
So, part of my lesson had little group discussion which were leading up to a longer seminar. I set everything up and then monitored. Here’s the thing. Monitoring a group discussion is hard.I mean, how can you monitor 4 groups at the same time? Well, you can get them to record themselves and then listen to the recordings, but who does that on a daily basis? So, in my mind it is impossible to do, so I end up walking around and listening to their discussions and giving feedback if I hear some mistake. Interrupt the group discussion if I hear a pronunciation mistake or just nod and say, ” Yeap! Good point!” or “Really?”. I then may give some general feedback at the end of the group discussion.
Why don’t you ask more questions. Listen to them and ask something. You may make them think of something they hadn’t thought of before. Start a conversation.
Huh? Yes! Why don’t i? That is such an obvious suggestion and so important!
So, why does my monitoring stop at, ” Really?” or “Good point!”?
I guess I think it is a time issue. It is also hard to go in and out of conversations. I am also insecure and think that if I stay longer in a group, the other groups might start talking about a TV show or sports! But, I need to work on this because it makes sense. I need to scaffold these conversations more! I need to actively participate in them and even interrupt my students (it may show them a good example of interrupting!).
I liked this observation. It made me reflect and learn. Now I need to improve!
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Till next time…