13 March 2009

Elephant in the classroom

One overlooked and always present variable in classrooms is peer pressure.

Every student has a lot of attention and concern on what other students think or perceive of him/her. Yes, it was that way for me too when I was younger.Why not put that concern of what others think about you to good use in learning? Every day I do some sort of activity where students are working in small groups, and they’re not always the same groups. After two months, all the students have worked together at one time or another.

Current research proves it and I have heard it from the mouths of students, students learn a tremendous amount from each other when they work together.

Teachers, your job in this type of activity is to be a facilitator. Make sure students: 1) understand the tasks before starting and 2) stay on task. There is a caveat, digital kids today are for the most part good multi-taskers. They can talk about what is going on after school and do their work too. Give students plenty of room to participate with each other and you’ll see their concept understanding grow.

Parents, find out from your teachers how much group activities they do in your child’s class. If all that is going on is reading textbooks and doing worksheets – then I don’t blame the students for acting up or being disinterested. Better yet, ask your child what kind of activity they do in class and compare their answers to the what the teacher reports.

Putting the power of peer participation to use in K-12 classes is an essential ingredient for learning.

Wishing you the best life has to offer, Jack

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