summer school

Book review: Successful Group Work

Alphabet Publishing must have been feeling generous! Not only did they send me Classroom Community Builders (Burns), but I also received a copy of Successful Group Work by Patrice Palmer. This book hasn’t been out long, so it’s the perfect time for a review!

Successful Group Work is a short book of 13 activities for teaching teamwork skills. Palmer begins by writing about some benefits of group work in the EFL classroom, such as increased student talk time and the chance to negotiate meaning. She highlights, however, that to ensure group work is effective learners first need to be aware of what makes it a success – that’s where teambuilding skills come in. Activities in the book are designed as a ‘complete course’, helping students identify and develop the necessary teamwork skills in order to succeed in group projects.

In defining ‘teamwork skills’, Palmer refers to a list compiled by the Conference Board of Canada, clearly stating how each of the activities in the book focus on these various skills. Some examples include:

  • Recognising and respecting diversity
  • Contributing to a team
  • Understanding and working within the dynamics of a group
  • Planning, designing or carrying out a task

There are some good tips in the introduction about setting clear expectations and post-task reflection. (more…)

Lesson idea: retelling a story in groups

Here’s a great group task for retelling a story. I came across it during the British Council summer school here in Bangkok. My teen group were doing activities based on the movie ‘Jumanji’, but this can work for any movie, fairytale, etc.

First, summarise your story in 100 words or so. You could use an existing plot summary from IMDB or even Wikipedia, and just cut it down as needed.

Once you’ve got the text, write it out into a table so that each word is in one of 4 columns, Here’s an example for the first sentence:

In 1869, two boys bury a mysterious and magical game – Jumanji.

In

1869 two boys
bury a mysterious and
magical game Jumanji

Etc…

Here’s the important part. Jumble each line of the text up so the words are in a different order. Then number each line to help learners keep track of where they are. Here’s the handout I gave them: (more…)