Some of the main goals in an English class are to help students become better writers, enhance their critical thinking skills, and improve communication. These strengths may seem individualistic by nature, but working in groups in the classroom can benefit students’ development of these skills. Students need to learn how to work in groups to establish the essential college and career skills they’ll need after high school. Here are three benefits of group work in the secondary ELA classroom.
1. Collaborate with New Students
Group work allows students to work with people they don’t usually collaborate with or spend time with. Most middle and high school students choose to associate with their friends in class or students with whom they feel comfortable. By doing so, they generally spend time with people similar to themselves. Maintaining an element of group work in the classroom allows students to work with other people that are not in their immediate circle. This process helps to integrate students into different circles of people, even if it’s just for a short time. Having students work with different people in their classes helps expose them to different perspectives on separate tasks and ideas, which is essential in increasing understanding.
2. Exposure to Different Writing Styles
When students work in groups on writing assignments, they can experience a different writing style from their own. They are also able to see what kinds of styles are useful for different types of writing. This is particularly effective when it comes to peer editing. When students read another student’s work, they can utilize that same level of review with their own work. The peer-review process is a sure-fire way for students to hone their writing skills and find inspiration in their peers’ work.
3. Strengthen Communication Skills
Group work in the classroom also helps strengthen verbal communication skills. When a group of students works on a project or activity together, they must communicate with one another to complete the project or activity. Communication may come naturally to some students who are accustomed to always raising their hands in class and contributing to every conversation, but it is challenging for other students. Students who are a bit more introverted, students who have social anxiety, or shy students will find it easier to practice their communication skills in a small group setting compared to a whole-class setting. Working in small groups can be beneficial for both types of students because the more outgoing students have a chance to hear from other voices. In contrast, the more reserved students can contribute in a small group setting, which may be less intimidating to them than a full classroom. Using group work to foster effective verbal communication is very beneficial for students’ learning and development in and out of the classroom.
Utilizing group work in the classroom is a great way to help students improve their writing abilities and improve their communication skills. Group work can help students learn how to speak up when they have ideas or ask for help when they are stuck. Group work helps set students up for success in and out of the classroom, and successful work in groups will be beneficial to students in the long run when it comes to higher education or jobs in the future.
Here are some links to my favorite group activities.