Tips for Forming Groups
How Do You Effectively Assemble Students?
When dealing with TAG students, grouping can sometimes be an issue. The teacher must decide if the group should be a mix of students with different strengths, a mix of personalities, or one that can work harmoniously. In the real world, we all have to work with people who are difficult or who are not like ourselves. TAG students need to learn how to work with others as well.
Sometimes it is good to just let them be a random mix of students. Teachers can put names in a hat to draw out names. Or, if the group only needs to have four students, teachers can use a deck of regular cards and deal them out randomly. Each suit or royalty can become a group.
Dealing with Issues
On the Davidson Institute for Talented Development website, Stephen Balzac's article on "Tips for Parents: Gifted Kids and Group Work" shows how teachers can deal with groups that are not working together as well as they should. The more time a cluster of students can be together, the better.
For example, if a group is struggling with autonomy (each student wants to do it themselves instead of working together), then the teacher needs to set goals early on with a time table and check points. This will allow the group members to work independently and then come together to put the whole thing together. A goal for the students and the teacher is to value each person's input while completing the activity.
Recipe for Success
When teachers want to create a group activity or project, a basic recipe that should be used is as follows:
- Select a broad topic or many connected topics where students can compile their own research.
- Suggest creative ways that the students can present the information.
Create a rubric to assess the project.
- Make a project sheet that has deadlines, check points, and descriptions of tasks.
- Designate defined roles for each member of the group so that everybody contributes.
Teachers may also want to give an individual grade and a group grade for the project/activity. For example, in the article, "Challenging Students with the Law. An Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Gifted and Talented Students at the Upper Elementary and Middle School Levels" by Julia Ann Gold, TAG students were able to participate in an interdisciplinary lesson on law-related education (LRE). The lessons focus on old growth forests, Japanese American internment, Salmon Summit, automobile automation, freedom of speech, search and seizure, immigration, and animal rights. This project encourages cooperative learning through role-play, brainstorming, simulations, etc.
When teachers create their next hands-on activities for their gifted students, they need to think it through and be organized. Gifted students are bright; however, they need good teacher direction while working in groups as well.