Answer: small-group work in a big classroom requires patience and understanding from both teachers and students. While movable tables and chairs are ideal for GL activities, the restrictions caused by the furniture shouldn't interfere with team work. There can be groups of four formed by two people from one row and two from the other row.
Question: Is it common to find some students who dominate teams and others who don't participate at all? How can this be avoided?
Answer: promote equal participation in the groups by making all the team members feel like they have unique roles within the group and that their role is essential for the group's success. Some of the strategies used to accomplish this are: asking for only one result per team, assigning roles and swapping them, giving each member different critical resources, choosing a team member to explain and summarize the results and the methods used, and then giving a grade to the whole team.
All of the team members should give a list of participation expectations and group behavior. The students:
♦ Should create ideas about behaviors that could interfere with team work.
♦ Can create a behavior code for all members.
♦ Define acceptable group behavior.
♦ List the behaviors expected from each person, pair, group or from the class in general.
♦ Help the instructor and students portray specific behavior, making everyone feel included and expressing, for example, their disagreements in a constructive manner, offering help and support, asking for clarification and avoiding negative comments.
The instructors should constantly monitor group activities taking place in the classroom, writing down who contributes a lot and who doesn't. It's good to meet the team members in private to communicate any observations. These talks should be friendly and should offer support, showing specific strategies to solve a problem. In the case of teachers who use LS to document an activity's results, this task is simplified because they have access to each team member's contributions and their characteristics, facilitating an intervention if necessary.