What is the value of group work or collaboration in the classroom?
Actively involving students in learning is the key. Each member has opportunities to contribute in small groups. Students are most likely to take more ownership of their material and to think critically about related issues when they work as a team. As an example of this statement my students worked in groups to do an authentic task to help the community. Each student got involved regardless of their level of ability.
Students created a spreadsheet to include a real world situation. Hurricane Matthew had just recently impacted our area and a lot of families in our county lost their homes due to flooding and were moved into shelters. When we returned to school, students proposed the idea of turning our spreadsheet lesson into a real world situation. We knew that the holiday season was fast approaching, so we decided to make a spreadsheet to include a list of items needed to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner. Students were assigned to groups and researched several grocery store websites, to determine the cost needed to prepare a Thanksgiving feast. Afterwards, students were required to make a spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Microsoft Office Excel, which included the item, quantity, cost, tax and total cost of each food. Students were not satisfied with just researching they wanted to help the flood victims. Each group member brought in a food item from their list to share with the families who were affected by the flood. The 8th grade students heard about our project and wanted to help so they brought in food also. We packed boxes of can goods, can meats, cakes, pies and other goodies from the list that made a delicious Thanksgiving feast. Those boxes were sent to the the areas of the flooded victims. Several students quoted “ WOW, we learned how to use a Spreadsheet that related to a real serious life situation. This made sense”.