Author: GLE Team | Published on 1 July 2023
Learners of all genders need to have opportunities to learn from each other and work cooperatively in order to develop respectful and constructive social relationships. Learning cooperatively also increases learning and understanding among learners, so it is a good way to consolidate learning.
Stage 1: Identify the why?
Before you start planning activities and adapting lesson plans where learners are able to collaborate, ensure that you know why you want to include a group activity in this particular topic or lesson. Cooperative learning is incredibly valuable, but individual and paired activities also have their value. Make sure you are planning group learning because it will have the desired impact on student progress not because you feel you should. Ask yourself what the students will gain from working together then they might work independently, and would they be able to generate more ideas from implementing a group activity in a particular lesson.
Stage 2: Select Appropriate tasks for Group Work
Groups should be gender balanced if possible. Learners could be assigned different roles depending on the task and encouraged to swap these roles (such as facilitator, note taker) around the next time they work in the same or a new group. Activities that can be used in group work include but are not limited to:
- Reading a text together and answering comprehension or discussion questions
- Creating lists of topic related vocabulary
- Creating designs to solve a problem
- Working collaboratively to memorise specific language facts
- Completing an activity sheet together as a team
- Writing a story
- Collaboratively practicing a new language skill
Stage 3: Implement Group Tasks
Plan your selected group activity into your lesson. Ensure that learners are clear on the behavioral and learning outcome expectations and timings before you begin. Provide learner of different genders the opportunity to take on different roles within the group. Rotate the leadership roles between learners of different genders frequently. Ensure you provide or develop guidance/norms for group work to ensure inclusive participation of learners of all genders. As the learners are working in their group, move around the groups and observe how they are working together, who is leading/speaking/taking action. Support and extend learning with questioning and additional challenges where required.
Stage 4: Evaluate Group Tasks and Expand
Ask students what was successful and challenging about working in a group, if they would change and what might help improve their cooperative learning experiences. Reflecting on yourself, is there anything you would change or improve about the way the group activities were carried out? What extent did it enable the active participation of girls and boys? What roles did boys and girls take on? Do the roles challenge gender stereotypes?
Continue to develop your expectations and communicate these with learners. The more you practise and use group activities and communicate these expectations with learners the easier it will become. Remember as the teacher you are the central facilitator of various interactions in the classroom, you need to prioritise group tasks that promote optimal participation, are sensitive to learner needs and frequently seek their input and preferences.