Give each group a piece of construction paper: red, blue, yellow, or green. Have one student tape it to the edge of the desk.
Have each student within the teams pick a color: red, blue, yellow, or green.
Give students a handout of problems.
Pick a problem, not #1, to start with. That way students can't jump ahead because they never know what problem you will call out next. (Crafty, I know.) Or else they will jump ahead and do the entire worksheet. Ah, can't stop the overachiever. Give students one minute, no talking, to attempt the problem on their own.
Then, tell them to talk it over with group. Get an answer and an explanation. Circulate the room and make sure each person in each group can explain how to solve the problem.
Now...bring in the big guns:
Click go. The timer randomly chooses a color aka the team. Click go again. The timer randomly chooses a color aka the team member. The team member now stands, addresses the class, and explains how to get the correct answer.
- Giving students one minute to start on their own gives their brains time to warm up and start thinking.
- You already know the benefits of team work.
- Giving each team member a color and then randomly choosing who explains is the best part. It's not a personal attack, it's random. It's not focusing on Johnny or Suzie but on the blue team member. They have a team to rely on help and explanation, so they aren't left hanging.
- Accountability exists. No one knows when they will be randomly chosen to 'teach' the class and (almost) no one wants to risk looking stupid in front of their friends. So a little intrinsic motivation to learn.
- Students teach other. They come up with better ways to explain, they come up with more than one way to explain, and they are just more willing to hear each other.
- They feel like they are doing less work because they are in groups and have some freedom to talk. Except they are doing more work, and in my case, harder work.
- Time goes by faster. For them and you.
- Your job becomes checker and correcter vs. lecturer.
- They are discussing math. They are participating, they are asking questions, they are making connections. Instead of you giving them the bridge to walk on, they are building it piece by piece. (I made that up myself)
- It is MUCH easier to plan. And impressive to your superiors.
- Your chairs might get out of order. I mean, for those of you who may be anal about that sort of thing...