We just finished group science projects. During research time in the classroom, students would often appear to be unfocused and not get a lot accomplished. Moreover, some students complained about members of the group being silly and not contributing. I thought, "Ugh!" My first attempt at small group inquiry was not a success.
To help students assume individual accountability, I implemented the collaboration lesson, "Making and Using a Work Plan," from Comprehension and Collaboration by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Smokey Daniels.
Students were given the task of baking and decorating a cake. After organizing themselves into groups, students were provided with a Work Plan Form. On the form students identifed the group members, their task, who was responsible for brining certain materials and doing specific tasks, and what help they would need from the teacher. Students were required to sign the form as a sign of commitment.
The next day, students followed the work plan to bake and decorate a cake a small group. They collaborated exceptionally well, had fun, and enjoyed a tasty treat!
I can't wait to have students use the work plan form to help them with their next small group inquiry!