Question Detail

How do you manage an entire class that refuses to get into diverse groups for a project (counted by numbers)? This one thing takes time away from learning and should not be a collective power struggle. Need advice ASAP.

Sep 29, 2014 12:20pm

I divided my high school students (9-12 - 80% at risk) into groups by number. They hated their teams and refused to get into groups. This period has about 4 clicks and the rest are just independently feeding off the others. It is a great project (designing a board game that takes them through the ins and outs of restaurant management), and I want them to learn about working through diversity.

  • Technology
  • 9-12
  • Behavior


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    • Oct 5, 2014 10:11am

      I do a great deal of group work in my high school English classes and had those same problems at first. I got past them by first having them do simpler projects with a single partner assigned by me. I told them that I choose partners and groups based on the strengths and weaknesses of individuals. They seemed to accept this better than simply randomly teaming them. Then, for larger, more complex projects, I give specific roles to accomplish their objectives. I let the kids decide who gets which job but if they have not filled the spots within about three minutes, I do it for them. I ask each team to provide a log of their jobs and progress at the end of each class period, one per group. As they are held accountable, they seem to do better. If I know there are certain kids who just won't work together I separate them. If I have couples or best friends, I separate them, too. One thing I discovered via trial and error is that I needed to make the groups more homogeneous, even though conventuals practices say to group them heterogeneously. This keeps one person from doing all the work while the others goof off. I also require a finished product from each student as well as a group project. Maybe some of this can be applied to your situation. First, we have to actually teach them how to work as a team.

      • Oct 6, 2014 7:23am

        Dont call it groups or teams. Call every group, a mini-business. Let them decide on a name for their mini-business, a CEO (captain/leader) and so on. Try to make your tasks around this theme as if they are running a real business. it changes their hole perception on group/team work.

        • Oct 4, 2014 11:06am

          The cooperative learning work of Kagan may be helpful. He stresses the importance of class builders and team builders in order to build community among students. This in turn helps students to accept (and hopefully!) appreciate classmate's diversity. There are several management strategies he also addresses. Good luck!

          • Oct 6, 2014 10:38am

            I start off the first day of class giving students "appointment clocks" and having them get classmates' names for each hour on the clock face. (a Kagan strategy, I think). Then every class period, they work with several appointment partners (i.e., "meet with your 2 o'clock partner," then "go to your [whatever hour hasn't been used that day] and talk about [whatever topic]"). This made working with different partners part of the regular routine. Adding "pair shares" to the mix regularly had students working in groups of 4 part of the routine. Often the time spent in pairs or pair-shares was short, but it established a collaborative pattern without much stress.

            • Oct 5, 2014 10:16am

              Oops, typo . "Conventuals" is not what I meant to type! I try to avoid making up words as I go along--should have been conventional.

              • Oct 6, 2014 12:08pm

                Hello. Try collaborative groups. Students in the groups are given a role and specific tasks to fulfill. In this way you'll keep all members of the group busy. You could also let your students choose their partners for the activity and then go changing and evolving in your ways of sorting the members(you combining them, at random, by numbers, birthdays,etc.) until they feel comfortable working with anyone in the classroom. This will required constant group work.

                • Oct 6, 2014 6:21pm

                  Given that they refuse to work in groups, I would take time to brainstorm as a class what the consequences in learning to work with diverse groups vs. not learning to are. Perhaps reminding students that in the real world we may not always have a choice as to who we want to work with? Therefore, learning to work with a diverse group of people will help them build valuable teamwork skills to be better prepared for all future endeavors.