Sunday, July 20, 2014

TMC #14 Group Work Working Group Morning Session – The Game Plan

There is so much that we could focus on that I felt a strong need to narrow things down. TMC morning sessions seem to work best when they are more “master class” than “introduction,” so I am going to keep us aimed in that direction.

So this three-day morning session will NOT be an introduction to using group work. Rather, we will use the three days as an “Advanced Topics in Improving Group Work” session.

I’ll kick things off with a brief overview presentation on the background, research, and framework for these two topics. Then, we will spend the three days we are going to focus our work in two key areas:
We will explore the need to cultivate a culture of ‘exploratory talk’ in our classrooms (as opposed to ‘cumulative’ or ‘disputational’ talk) and practice ways to develop and deploy exploratory talk tasks. Questions we’ll investigate include — What is ‘exploratory talk’? Who has studied it? Why is it important? How does it improve learning? How is it measured? How does it fit into the learning cycle? What is the evidence-based work that’s been done in this area? How can I harness this work in my classroom?  
We will work together on getting better at improvising group task development and deployment Questions we’ll investigate include — What are the major types of group-worthy tasks? What fits where in the learning cycle? Which types are effective for which processes? How can I develop fluency in developing and deploying the different kinds of tasks in my course area and classroom?
We’ll try out different tasks and task types, analyze them, and split up into sub-groups to sketch out new tasks of the various types that fit what we ourselves will be teaching. Then the whole group can act as a “beta test site” for the tasks we are sketching out.

Each day, we’ll begin with some exploratory talk tasks and structures I’ve researched and will share on the web.

I think it would be amazing if we could also come up with a way of categorizing/labeling different types of tasks to give ourselves more helpful information about what tasks are useful for what purposes.

Looking forward to working with you!


  1. I would love to hear more about your thoughts on "task types." The intention of this workshop is so important and it needs to filter out to the teachers that live outside of these "internet walls."

    I've thought about task types too...and it seems that you could fit them into three categories... (1) apply new content (2) discover new content/connect content to prior learning (3) focus is on the problem solving process

    Are any of these similar to what you have come up with??

    I am hoping that you'll write some follow up posts!

    1. Hi Bridget,

      I will definitely post more about task types! There are a few different taxonomies to talk about, based on the research. You've hit on three of the key categories.

      I also hope that others will start posting more about these too, once we start tinkering in the morning session.

      Thanks for commenting!

      - Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)