I often plan stations or rotations where I am at one station, and the students have group, pair, or independent work at the others. Students were (almost) always on task for me, but were often chatty, off-task, or goofing off during the others. I have worked for the past few years on getting the students to be both accountable for quality work during these times, but also truly collaborative. Here’s what I’ve been doing recently.
Exit tickets– These are an oldie but goodie. I downloaded this free template from TpT and edit it to fit my needs. I can quickly see which students get a concept, and which do not.
Organized rotations – I recently came up with this simple Doc to help with rotations. (Here’s a second version). Each color square also has a poster in the room, where students know exactly where to go. The Doc tells them the instructions, and how to turn in their work (often in a bin in the room, or on Seesaw). No one bothers me during small-group-instruction because I left them detailed directions.
Accountability forms – In math, the students fill out a tracking sheet each day, where they tell me which standard they’re working on, and where I can find evidence of this work. Even if I don’t check it daily, (or even weekly), they think that I can. In reading, I split my class in half, and we read two novels. While I’m reading with one group, I had been giving the other group comprehension questions but some students were waiting until the last minute, and having to re-read the entire book. I was given a similar version of this Independent Reading form, which I love. There are specific tasks for each day of the week and may-do lists after the daily must-do is completed. Many of the activities go along with the William and Mary Teaching models for IB and GT.
Collaboration – My class this year is a stubborn bunch. I’ve stressed time and time again about making good seating choices, yet they still gravitate towards friends. Finally, I implemented a two girls/two boys per table rule, and they have to be sitting diagonally, therefore when we do elbow-partner work, they have to work with someone of the opposite gender. Collaboration is hard, as one 4th grader usually takes the lead, and the other the backseat. Or two strong-headed personalities can’t figure out how to divide up the work. I’ve been loving the “commenting” feature on the Google Suite for Education, and encourage the teams to “talk” on there instead of out loud. After a few weeks (eek) of them typing “Hello” and other off-topic, random junk, they are starting to see that that wastes time.