Learner Grouping Whole class working in teams
Time Needed 2-hour session, possibly spilling over to a second day
Setting I teach a combination Fami- lies First/ABE class that meets Monday through Fri- day, 8:00 AM – 12 NOON. There averages 7-10 learners in attendance, ranging in age from 18 to 77. They are a very personable group, get along well with one another, and all appear eager to try new things. All have the basic skills (grade levels 5-8.9) and half of those are in the cre- dentialing level (9-12.9). So presently I have a group that can blend skills easily for team projects. Our learning environment consists of a large classroom with comput- ers and conference tables and is easily used for a variety of activities. We can do “book work,” or use the room to create a workplace environment with ease. This activity was conducted around conference tables to give participants a feeling of a business “conference” or “brainstorming” atmosphere.
some of the same teamwork skills to develop a new product. New objects are given to each team. (This time, each team has a different object or combination of objects. Teams are not in competition with each other.) Distribute the handouts, “Team Member Responsibilities” and “Developing a New Product.”
Teams may reorganize team mem- ber responsibilities (trade jobs within the team) based on their pre- vious team experience, if they wish. Teams brainstorm as before to determine their project and start to determine their strategies for prod- uct development. Each team member then takes primary respon- sibility for one phase of the development of the project accord- ing to the assigned title of responsibility. Team members can check costs by making telephone inquiries, discuss demographics, and investigating possible advertis- ing avenues.
Team members should document their findings and ideas, prepare posters and advertisements, and submit their plans to other team members to prepare for presenta- tion.
4. At the end of the session (approxi- mately 2 hours), give each team an opportunity to briefly explain and define their “new” product and the
planned methods to make it mar- ketable to the rest of the class. (The presentations can be made the next class period if more time is needed.)
5. Debrief the exercise with the class using a discussion of (1) the feasibil- ity of the various plans, and (2) the importance of planning, teamwork, and research when completing any work assignment.
Assessment To assess the teamwork used by each team, observe how each team works to see if all members contribute their ideas and energies to the project. Gen- eralized observations by the instructor of team functioning can be made dur- ing the debriefing of the exercise at the end of the class. The uniqueness and completeness of the project pre- sentation by each team is also an assessment of learners’ teamwork efforts.
Practitioner Reflection Aside from the fun this exercise always promotes, learners also gain a sense of their own capabilities. A bit of competitiveness between the teams just automatically seems to surface, and it’s a learning experience for both participants and practitioner.