Pupils benefit from working in different groups: independently as individuals, collaboratively with a partner, or in a small group on different occasions. Working collaboratively includes talking about mathematics, evaluating their own and others’ work and responding constructively, problem solving in pairs or small groups and presenting ideas to a wider group.
Whether you choose independent, paired or group work for a particular activity will depend on the activity and what you want to achieve but, over time, pupils need opportunities to work in all three ways.
Group membership may need to change from time to time so that pupils experience working with different people. Sometimes groups will be of the same level of attainment, sometimes of mixed levels of attainment. Friends usually work together well. On occasions, you may decide to form single-sex groups.
For some discussions, either you or the group may want to assign roles to particular members: for example, leading the discussion, taking notes, drawing diagrams, leading the presentation, and so on. Pupils who are quick to suggest ideas may need to be asked to manage the discussion in order to let others contribute.
Having an extension activity ready to give to any group that reaches a conclusion quickly allows other groups time to fine-tune their thinking.
Group work is a Professional Development module.
Group work – can it work? is a professional development resource from the Primary Magazine.
See also Group work