I am learning to understand that cooperation with others depends on shared understanding of social conventions so that I can improve my skills in group discussions.
- I can consider social conventions that support group discussions.
- I can select the rules I feel are most important for discussions.
- I can discuss ideas in groups.
- I can reflect on my performance in a group discussion.
- I can reflect on the social conventions and rules I chose and consider alternate rules I deem more important if necessary.
Discuss expectations students are familiar with for when they work in groups, for example:
- That you listen respectfully to everyone’s ideas
- That you take turns to talk
- That you can use majority voting to decide on areas where you cannot agree
Oral language and communication:
Discuss times when students have worked in groups with others by using the following questions as a guide:
- What do you enjoy about working in groups? (I like having other people to share ideas with)
- What have you found challenging when working in groups previously? (Sometimes not everyone gets to speak or to share their ideas)
- What rules or expectations do you think would make working in groups more successful? (Making sure everyone has a chance to speak)
Read the story, Lucky Patch, or listen to the audio file. Identify key decisions the character Tim makes throughout the story and jot these on the board. Ensure students note the following choices:
- To pick up the bird
- To carry the bird home
- To keep it in the garden shed
- To name the bird Lucky Patch
- To feed the bird seed
- To drag branches into the shed
- To set Lucky Patch free
- To take Lucky Patch to the creek
- To keep returning Lucky Patch back on the branch each time it flew back to him
- To clap his hands to scare Lucky Patch into flying away
Refer to the first decision Tim makes, whether or not to pick up the bird. Inform students that you will be discussing the merits of this choice collaboratively. Set a timer for two minutes and instruct students to jot down all the reasons why they might agree or disagree with the choice Tim makes. Share responses. Sample ideas include:
Agree: The bird is injured, it needs help, it could be attacked by a predator if Tim left it there
Disagree: The bird’s mother may return to help it, it is advised not to interfere with nature, the bird might come to rely on Tim, and it won’t be able to take care of itself.
Conduct a class discussion, instructing students to take turns to share their ideas.
Reflect on the discussion process by considering the following questions with students:
- What helped the discussion to run smoothly? (Everyone took turns)
- What didn’t go so smoothly in the discussion? (Perhaps someone felt their ideas weren’t heard)
- What rules might you make around discussions? (Taking turns to speak, listening respectfully)
Inform students that they will be discussing another decision Tim makes in groups. Tell them that prior to engaging in the discussion, they will decide on rules or expectations for their groups.
Place students in groups of three or four. Display the following list of potential guidelines for working in groups:
- It is important to listen to everyone’s opinion.
- You should only listen to people who agree with you.
- You should suspend judgement until you have heard everyone’s opinion.
- You should stick to your opinion no matter what.
- You should not interrupt.
- It’s OK to interrupt if the person has been speaking for a while.
- You should give equal time to each group member.
- Someone should write down everyone’s ideas.
- No one needs to write down ideas, everyone can remember them.
- Someone should lead the discussion and tell everyone when it is their turn to speak.
- No one needs to lead the group; everyone can organise taking turns themselves.
Instruct students to discuss with their group which of these rules they think they should follow. Tell students to select three that they decide are the most important and to note these in their workbooks. Students can identify three alternative rules if they have their own ideas for rules that might work best.
Instruct each group to select one of Tim’s choices that were identified earlier, preferably one where there is some debate on the merits of the decision Tim made amongst their group. Tell students to jot down ideas about the choice Tim made before discussing the topic with the members of their group.
Instruct students to check back to the text to see if there is any reasoning included to explain Tim’s choices. For example,
He decides to keep the bird in the garden shed as:
It had a big window that looked out onto the backyard.
He follows Dad’s suggestion to take Lucky Patch to the creek as:
‘There are lots of birds around here,’ he said. ‘You won’t be lonely.’
‘There’s fresh water right here.’
‘There are plenty of grass seeds around,’ he said. ‘You’ll never be hungry.’
Once students have had time to discuss the choice, instruct them to reflect on their group’s performance in the discussion by considering the following:
- Did the group stick to the rules you identified?
- Were the rules adequate enough to ensure the discussion ran smoothly?
- Would you like to change any of the criteria you selected? (At this point, students can change their criteria if they wish)
Discuss students’ reflections, drawing attention to any incidences where the group did not feel they stuck to the rules they chose or where they indicate they wish to change the rules they initially selected.
Instruct the students to select another of the choices Tim made and to discuss it with their group. Tell students to focus on whether their reflections enable them to conduct the discussion more easily.
Assessment for/as learning:
Once students have completed their discussions, reflect on which rules worked best. Create a class display of those that students identify to use as guidelines future class discussions.
Instruct students to respond to the following exit ticket sentence stems in their workbooks:
- Rules support discussions because… (They enable a discussion to run smoothly)
- The rules I think are most important are… (Student responses will vary)
- I found it easy/challenging to stick to the rules my group identified because… (Student responses will vary)
- In future, I will… (For example, wait for the person to finish speaking before I share my ideas)