#edplay GHO Panel Chat: Group Work Shownotes, links, and feedback

Last night we hosted our second Google Hangout Panel Chat for #edplay. It was another excellent hour of discussions. We covered the topic of Group Work. I have a feeling that the dialogue will continue. In order to keep the conversation collected in one location please use the Vialogue link shared below to watch the video and share out any thoughts, questions, links, etc. that you have. I think that we will have to develop a follow up chat based on feedback because this is a topic that has a connection with everyone.

#edplay GHO Panel Chat

When: Feb. 26th

Time: 8:00 pm CST

Where: Google Hangout – using hashtag #edplay for backchannel

Topic: Group Work in the Classroom

Here is a link to the Google Community Group: http://buff.ly/LHdIp5

Here is a link to my Play PD on my website if you want to read some thoughts of my own: http://coffeeforthebrain.com/category/play-pd/

Panel Members


1. Aaron Maurer @coffeechugbooks

2. John Bennett @jcbjr

3. Eileen Malick @emalick


1. Laurel Braaten @Laurel_Braaten

 Group Work in the Classroom

Chat Structure: This is the outline we planned ahead of time. We did not follow it exactly as expected, but I am sharing in case you have answers to these questions that you would like to respond to. Feel free to do so.

Part 1: Introduction (5-10 minutes)

Part 2: Beginning Discussion Question

  • What is your stance on group work?

Part 3: Questions

  • What are the benefits of group work?

  • What are the issues plaguing group work in the school setting?

  • Why does group work feel forced and necessary evil in the classroom? I would like to expand on this in greater detail. We all know that solo work is not enough, but group work feels so unauthentic and impractical in the classroom.

  • What are meaningful ways we can assess group work/projects in our classrooms?


What Sled Dogs Can Teach Us About Working in Teams – http://s.shr.lc/1freZaO via @gifted_guru

Group work forms from John Bennett


Here is one of my fave videos about groups and 21st century learning (warning… it’s 21 minutes)- EMalick


Teacher Response – I have a teacher in our building who was not able to make the chat, but typed up his reflections which is way cool! Here is more food for thought to think about as you watch the video.

Part 1: Introduction (5-10 minutes)

My name is Jared Kannenberg, I am currently the Crisis Interventionist at Bettendorf Middle School. I am also a Museum Educator at the Family Museum. I have been in education for closing on 7 years now. I loved school but always hated group work. I started college at the age of 16 and was dismayed to find out there was group work there too! Part of my dislike for group work stems from my diagnosis of Aspergers and my extreme dislike of social situations.

Part 2: Beginning Discussion Question

  • What is your stance on group work?

I have always hated group work and have never fully come to terms with the parameters schools place on group work. In the business world a project lead is given the task of forming their team and assigning duties. The team is built of people that work in the specific field so they presumably like that part of their job or at least do it well enough to earn a paycheck. This is where the disconnect comes in with schools. Often we drop a project on a group and expect a single student to take the lead or we assign one student to the lead. This student doesn’t have the seniority nor the years of project management we find in the business world that allows for good leadership. Then we tell other students do this project for a grade and by the way you all need to get along. Furthermore groups are formed around the needs of the project but not around the needs of a student. It’s probable that some groups get a well-rounded collection of students who each enjoy certain aspects of the project. However, it’s also likely you’ll get a group of students who have no buy-in to the project because it has nothing to do with where their interests fall. The answer I’ve always been given is that the “real world” requires group work. Yet we never structure our group work like the real world. Also, there are plenty of jobs out there in the “real world” where group work is handing your individual piece of work onto someone else who then adds their piece. There is no sense of cooperation. These are the fields where our students on the Spectrum (like myself) thrive. There is minimal dependence on others with a clearly defined system in place.

Part 3: Questions

  • What are the benefits of group work?

Personally, I have never found a benefit to forced group work in education. Spontaneous group work we see evolve in kids at play is where the true benefits come in. The group forms around a common interest and then the natural abilities of the kids become utilized. Cooperation then is no longer forced and if it ever becomes forced the kids have the right and chance to walk away, unlike a forced group in school.

  •  What are the issues plaguing group work in the school setting?

The main issue is that group work is not built for everyone and everyone is not built for group work. A forced group is not a naturally find event in nature. All groups are formed by a common goal. Even amoung adults we don’t form groups out of someone saying we should, we form them because we have a need an internal interest in fulfilling that need. I think the internal interest is the greatest concept missing out of group work, an internal need or interest is not something a teacher can assign to a student.

  • Why does group work feel forced and necessary evil in the classroom? I would like to expand on this in greater detail. We all know that solo work is not enough, but group work feels so unauthentic and impractical in the classroom.

I challenge that the concept of current group work is not needed in any type of education. That being said with schools moving to a Project Based Learning system there is indeed room to expand the idea of “real world” into the school world. I submit a new model of group based work.

1.    Leaders are picked out from the most senior class in the school with the top 5% of those students in the Project Lead group. For 1 block a day these students are given classes in leadership, staff development, time management, and accounting type math. These will be the core group that teachers turn to when it’s time to build groups.

2.    Skill based work force classes should be given to the remaining population for at least 1 block a day. Students with a heavy interest in computers can have their entire core classes built around the computer world. Programming requires both writing and math skills. The concept of technology is their science field, even bio-tech is still computer based. Students who tend towards the science would have their core classes built around science. Same goes for the other subject fields. These students will be the students that are available for Project Leaders to pick from. Students would need to apply for a position on a project and the Leads with select their team. Student’s not picked, like in the real world, would need to keep applying for other projects.

3.    Student’s that are continually not picked for projects will be assigned to vocational training where staff work with the students to improve the skills that are lacking in their career that are causing them to be passed over for projects.

4.    Like most real world projects the student’s will need time to grow themselves outside of their career. Specials would cover this allowing for art, music, P.E., and so on, being present in the student’s lives.

5.    Grades would be based on individual completion on assigned duties with students expected to complete 4 projects a year. Student’s not selected for the projects or who refuse to take part in projects with be graded based on their tests in the vocational training programs and their growth in their lacking abilities.

6.    Staff take on more of a facilitator rather than lecturer. This allows for more one on one time with students and a greater bond to be formed.

In my understanding of a re-conceptualized group work environment the walls between grades and grade work could vanish for some students allowing for faster or slower development. It also takes out the idea of group work and transforms into in a more realistic view of “real world” work.



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One thought on “#edplay GHO Panel Chat: Group Work Shownotes, links, and feedback

  1. Thank you Eileen for the sharing the video link; it’s great and has been shared with others … Thanks, Jared, for your responses – which I will be considering more deeply soon. Aaron and Laurel, what a great discussion last night! Aaron, your organization of this effort is greatly appreciated. Hope the participation continues to grow!!!