Developing and Embedding Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities
At some stage during a term or over a series of lessons, most teachers will divide their classes into groups of four or five and give them instructions to complete a task together. Teachers recognise these situations as ‘group work’ and so do pupils.
Sometimes the reasons for subdividing a class in this way are to do with the availability of equipment or resources, or when it’s useful to have a spare pair of hands to do each part of a job that requires coordination: for example, when one person clicks the stopwatch to start, and another begins the process that is to be timed. Sometimes it’s the type of activity that can only be carried out by doing something together such as sports, team games, quizzes, drama and performance, music and bands.
Group work is such a common format that it can feel as if it is simply a given aspect of school life and there’s no need to pay particular attention to it; however, the group work that occurs so regularly in pupils’ school experiences can be underexploited. This can happen when the pupils are in a group but not necessarily working as a group.
These advice and guidance materials include an overview of the main issues associated with implementing group work in primary and post-primary school settings. The related supporting materials, listed below, include a PowerPoint presentation and several PDF documents. If your school wishes to focus on developing this approach at whole-school level, it can use them to develop an in-house CPD programme on group work.
In addition to these resources you can access a pre-recorded webinar on group work from the Webinars section of this web area.