Some examples of group strategies for oral language activities in the classroom:
- The Jigsaw Technique
- Three-Step Interview
- Think/Pair/Share Technique
- Inside Outside Circles
The Jigsaw Technique
The Jigsaw Technique is a cooperative learning method in which students work in small groups. It was first developed by social psychologist Elliot Aronson and his students at the University of Texas and the University of California in 1971. Jigsaw can be used in different ways for acquiring and presenting new material, informed debate etc. It promotes better learning, develops positive interdependence and improves student’s motivation and confidence in a way that increases the love of learning.
- The teacher organises the class into small groups of 4-6 pupils to research a topic or to complete a task. (e.g. Research The Vikings)These are the pupils ‘home’ groups.
- The teacher gives each pupil in these groups a number. Each numbered group member is assigned to become an “expert” on some aspect of the topic. (e.g. number 1 researches longships, number 2 researches round towers etc…these are all subtopics of the main topic The Vikings)
- Pupils are then moved from their ‘home’ groups to their ‘expert’ groups based on the numbers. All 1’s go together, 2’s together etc. The experts research and discuss their aspect of the topic
- Students return to their “homegroup” having researched/ completed the task and share what they have done or what they have found out.
Before using this technique, interviews/listening techniques are modelled for the class. Once the students are familiar with these techniques modelled, they are used in this strategy for interviewing each other. Pupils A interviews pupils B about an announced topic. When the allocated time is up, students switch their roles as interviewer and interviewee. This pair then joins another pair to create groups of four. Students take turns introducing their partners and sharing what their partners had to say about the topic in question. This structure can also be used for opinion questions, predicting, evaluation, sharing book reports, etc. (Kagan)
Think/pair/share strategy allows all students to talk and discuss. It provides students with time to think about a response to a thought-provoking question or topic, then additional time to discuss it with their partner before sharing their ideas or research with another pair or with the whole class. The think/pair/share technique is an effective way of encouraging all students to express themselves and be involved.
Inside Outside Circles (Kagan, 1994)
- Decide which half of the students will form the inside circle (they are partner A) and which half will form the outer circle (they are partner B)
- Use a discussion topic from a card activity or put a question/ statement/ questions on the board. Give students at least ten seconds to think of an answer on their own.
- Ask students in the inside circle to share their responses with their partner B facing them in the outside circle. When they have done this, ask them to raise their hand so that their partners in the outside circle will share their responses.
- The teacher stands in the centre of the circle so he/ she can easily monitor student responses. When the teacher gives the signal have the outside circle (B partners) move one or two steps to the left or right and discuss the same question with their new A partner. Continue with the same discussion point/ question or post a new one if wished.
- Teachers may have students move more or fewer times to complete the activity. This activity holds all students accountable for having something to say. It can be an excellent activity for the teacher to use as formative assessment by standing in the centre of the circle and listening to the different conversations taking place.
What group work strategies work for you in your classroom?
If you have any other group work strategies for oral language activities, please share them below.