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Examining Cooperative Learning: Creating Meaningful and Equitable Student Participation Jillian Dalinkus University of San Diego, Masters/Credential Cohort Program
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Abstract Cooperative learning is becoming an increasingly popular strategy used by teachers. While the benefits of cooperative group learning have been studied and disseminated for a number of years, research has been less helpful in revealing the best way to organize cooperative groups for optimal levels of equitable participation and meaningful discourse. This six-week action research study of 8th grade students at a middle school in Mira Mesa, CA considered two main factors in improving participation and student-to-student discourse – discussion strategies (group roles and “accountable talk” strategies) and gender-alike groupings. Through the use of surveys, peer evaluations, audio recordings of group discussions, and observation notes, the successes and failures of each grouping arrangement were determined. Findings indicate that in mixed-gender cooperative learning groups students need clear interaction instructions and incentives to work together to make group learning successful. Although results were inconclusive as to which discussion strategy was most successful for cooperative learning, this research found that incorporating discussion strategies greatly improved meaningful discourse and equitable participation in mixed gender groups when compared to groups with no interaction instructions or incentives. It was also found that both male and female students preferred and showed significant benefits from working in gender-alike cooperative groups. These findings provide important information for teachers wishing to enhance student participation and learning using cooperative learning groups.
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Table of Contents Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………….4 Research Question………………………………………………………………………………...7 Literature Review…………………………………………………………………………………8 Description of Interventions……………………………………………………………………..11 Data Collection Methods………………………………………………………………………...16 Implementation Summary Chart…………………………………………………………………20 Phase 1…………………………………………………………………………………………...20 Pre-Study Survey………………………………………………………………………...20 Initial Mixed Gender Grouping………………………………………………………….23 Mixed Gender Group Roles……………………………………………………………...26 Mixed Gender Accountable Talk Strategies……………………………………………..29 Phase 2…………………………………………………………………………………………...32 Same Gender Initial Grouping…………………………………………………………...32 Same Gender Group Roles……………………………………………………………….35 Same Gender Accountable Talk Strategies………………………………………………38 Post-Study Survey………………………………………………………………………..40 Results……………………………………………………………………………………………45 Analysis and Discussion…………………………………………………………………………48 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………….55 Appendices……………………………………………………………………………………….59 Works Cited…………………………………………………………………………………….104
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Introduction Educators are constantly trying to discover teaching strategies that will help their students learn more efficiently and effectively. Traditional classrooms are often teacher-centered and, as Paulo Freire describes, the teachers are positioned as “depositors” of knowledge, and the students as “depositories” (Darder, Baltodano, Torres, 2003). However, in more recent years teachers have experimented with many different learning activities that involve students directly in the process of their learning. One of these activities is placing students in cooperative learning groups, allowing students to learn and expand their knowledge through discussion with one another. My action research project focuses on how to increase meaningful and equitable student-to-student discourse in mixed ability cooperative learning groups. As teachers continue to explore new avenues in teaching that differ from a traditional lecture based format, it is likely that the use of cooperative learning groups in classrooms will continue to grow. Students in teacher credentialing programs learn of the benefits of facilitating students in the construction of new knowledge, building on prior knowledge, and giving students authentic and applicable problems to consider (Santrock, 2008). Engaging students in small group discussions and activities is one way to accomplish these goals. Aside from its educational benefits, small group cooperation can also teach students skills that will serve them throughout the rest of their lives, such as learning to compromise, considering different points of view, reaching a consensus, and listening to others. These are skills that adults use in their everyday lives that can be learned and practiced through small group cooperative learning. Classroom Context This study took place in an 8th grade US History class at Wangenheim Middle School in Mira Mesa, CA. The school offers four “tracks” for 8th grade history: GATE (gifted and
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talented), English as a second language, Special Education (for those with severe social/emotional or behavioral needs), and general education. The class involved was a general education class with a wide variety of student ability levels, socioeconomic statuses, and ethnicities. The class had twelve redesignated English language learners. Of this group, eight students showed noticeable language difficulty. The ethnicity breakdown is as follows: 33% Filipino, 17% Hispanic, 14% multiracial, 11% white, 11% African American, 8% Vietnamese, 3% Laotian, and 3% Chinese. The students are routinely taught using a lecture-based format in this class. They listen quietly as the teacher explains the day’s textbook section. Once a week they take an open-book quiz consisting of 10-15 fact-based questions. During each grading period they complete Applied Learning Notebook assignments, which call on them to copy down facts on certain events and color a corresponding picture. The students are rarely asked to move beyond the knowledge, comprehension, and application stages of intellectual activity, and engage in little, if any practice in developing analysis, synthesis, or evaluation skills. In order to prepare students for success in the 21st century they must be taught and practice “higher order” skills, such as communication, problem solving, and reasoning (Grubb & Lazerson, 2005). As I took over the class as the student teacher, I wanted students to take a more active role in their learning. I implemented more pair and group work in the hopes of fostering increased student-to-student academic discourse in the classroom, recognizing that discourse can lead to more engagement in problem solving and allow students a more in depth understanding of text and content (Almasi, 1995). However, the results of my efforts were overall disappointing. I found that when students were in small group discussions they either did not talk meaningfully to one another, they did not talk about the content they were learning with any
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depth or complexity, or their participation was extremely varied, with a minority of students doing all the talking and/or work. Because of the class’ overall lack of experience with group work, it was the ideal setting for me to study how best to structure group work for increased and equitable student-to-student discourse in cooperative learning groups. Personal Connection As a student in the K-12 education system, I regarded history class in much the same way as my students do. I felt that there were interesting stories to hear about the past, but overall I thought it was a boring subject. School tasks in the history classroom were confined to listening to lecture, memorizing facts, and reading dense textbooks. History seemed very much disconnected from my personal life, and I viewed it more as something I “should know” than as something that holds valuable connections to today and lessons for the future. It was not until college that I took a liking to the subject that I now feel passionate about. In my college history classes I was, for the first time, asked to engage in small group discussion about historical concepts and to consider how they could inform and influence my actions and those around me and throughout the world. By listening to, questioning, and discussing the viewpoints and ideas of my peers, history truly came to life. I understood it better, saw the many real world connections and applications, and started to enjoy it as a subject. For me, learning was undoubtedly enhanced through discussion. But the best discussions I had, by far, were those in which all members of the group were engaged and felt comfortable contributing their ideas. The ability to successfully engage in discussion is a necessary life skill and has served me well into my adult life and career. I want my students to talk to each other about what they are learning. I want them to see their peers as resources that can enhance their learning. I want them to respect each other’s ideas and unique perspectives. Arranging small
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group discussion opportunities is a first step to achieve these goals and yet it is something my students were not accustomed to doing. There were both benefits and challenges to my dual role as a teacher researcher. Because of a lack of research assistants and classroom aides, I took on a job that had me wearing two hats: teacher and researcher. Yet, successful teachers engage in many of the activities that researchers do day in and day out. Teachers monitor, evaluate, observe, and reflect on student learning daily. As a teacher researcher the only departure from my everyday activities in the classroom was a more organized, purposeful, and systematic way of collecting data that I informally collected during every class period. My new dual role had many benefits to both myself and my students. As I learned more about how to make learning in cooperative groups successful, I have improved my teaching practices and will continue applying and tweaking them in the future. My students also benefited personally from a study in which their teacher takes a careful look at an often-used practice that was adjusted for maximum performance and effectiveness. Research Question All of the above factors motivated my research question: How can meaningful and equitable student-to-student discourse in mixed ability cooperative learning groups be increased? Sub-questions explored included: x
Do prescribed group roles increase meaningful and equitable participation?
Do gender-alike groups increase meaningful and equitable participation?
Do accountable talk strategies increase meaningful and equitable participation? The main research question and sub-questions helped direct my investigation and helped
me to understand the benefits and challenges of various strategies pointed to in the literature that
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suggest the likelihood of constructing effective cooperative group learning. By increasing meaningful student-to-student discourse and equitable participation from all group members, I hoped to discover how students can get the most out of cooperative learning groups. Each strategy was analyzed individually on its own success within the classroom, but was also compared with the others, to determine the most successful strategy. Literature Review Much has been studied about cooperative learning groups, and their advantages and limitations. Researchers began taking interest in the benefits and drawbacks of cooperative learning groups in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Through my research, some common themes have arisen: children learn better in cooperative learning groups than in a traditional lecture-based classroom, cooperative learning groups offer great learning benefits to lowperforming students at no cost to high-performing students, and the use of cooperative learning groups has to be carefully organized, monitored, and scaffolded by teachers. My research reviews the most well known education journals and studies that illustrate successful implementation of cooperative learning groups. Benefits of Group Learning Much research points to the benefits of group learning. Cooperative group work is grounded in the work of Vygotsky and his theory of the zone of proximal development (Lloyd & Fernyhough, 1999). Lloyd and Fernyhough explain that, according to this theory, students can perform beyond the limits of their individual skills when supported by a more experienced peer through social interaction. Group work is an obvious way to provide students with social interaction in which to increase their zone of proximal development. When compared with competitive and individualistic learning, cooperative learning is the most successful strategy in
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problem-solving tasks (Johnson & Johnson, 1980). Johnson and Johnson found that the discussion involved in cooperative learning aids in the development of superior cognitive strategies in solving problems. They also found that peer support and encouragement are identified as contributing to the success of a cooperative learning structure, and medium and low ability students benefit from their interaction with high ability students, with no adverse effect to the high ability students. Research also shows that on average, students who learn in small groups within classrooms learn grade level content significantly better than students who do not learn in small groups, particularly in math and science classes (Lou, Abrami, Spence, Poulsen, Chambers, & d’Apollonia, 1996). The same study additionally found that students who learn in small groups have significantly more positive attitudes towards the subject matter taught, and have higher general self-concept than students in classes that don’t utilize grouping. Therefore, according to the literature, groups not only contribute positively to learning, but also to student attitudes and self esteem. Students in classrooms which use small-group learning, regardless of ability level, were more successful answering high-level questions and questions that required elaboration and explanation in the response than students from traditional lecture-based classrooms (Sharan, 1980). As a student teacher, I struggled to get students to explain their answers and provide evidence to back up their arguments, and Sharan’s research shows that cooperative learning groups can help foster the acquisition of these strategies. He also found that learning in small groups gave students greater freedom to express themselves, a greater sense of responsibility, since they felt the teacher trusted them, and gave them a sense of being accepted because they were listened to by their peers. This research lends itself to the idea that cooperative learning groups can create a sense of community within the classroom where learning and cooperation
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can flourish. Finally, Gall & Gillett (1980) found that the discussion that takes place in cooperative learning is particularly beneficial for students who are weak in reading comprehension and individual study skills. This discussion provides a new learning mode for achieving educational objectives through speaking and listening in a group setting. What Makes Cooperative Learning Groups Work Many researchers agree that there are undeniable benefits to learning in cooperative groups. But not all groups in all classrooms are successful. Passive students who do not participate in the group do not get anything out of group work. Simply observing other students’ work activities and listening to others’ explanations is not sufficient to learn the material (Webb, 1982). Some researchers have studied what makes groups successful. Cooperative groups need to be carefully monitored by teachers (Smagorinsky & Fly, 1994). Smagorinsky and Fly also found that teachers must present students with challenging and appropriate tasks, and offer incentives for working cooperatively. Students who prefer to work on tasks alone need a reason to work together with their classmates. Johnson and Johnson (1999) identified five essential elements for making cooperative group learning successful: positive interdependence (joint rewards, divided resources, and complimentary roles), individual accountability (students held individually accountable to do their share of the work), face-to-face promotive interaction (helping, supporting, encouraging each other), social skills (decision making, conflict resolution, communication, leadership), and group processing (group reflection about what is going well and what is not). They found that students should be assessed both as a group and individually, be encouraged to support each other, practice social skills, and metacognitively reflect on the group process.
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Some researchers have suggested ways to accomplish the above cooperative learning conditions. One way to do this is to assign group members specific roles. Cohen (1994) warns that when roles are not assigned, mixed gender groups are often dominated by male group members, not allowing females to participate fully and therefore reap all the benefits of group learning. Maloch (2002) also suggests strategies to promote successful group learning, which include careful scaffolding of discussion techniques by the teacher before group work begins. He recognizes that making the switch from teacher-led discussions to discussions led by students in small groups can be a difficult transition. Modeling and highlighting discussion strategies and recapping, or reflecting on, what happened during discussions prepares students to discuss successfully on their own. Most of the research focuses on cooperative group learning in either math or English classes. History is often taught in a lecture based format, yet lends itself very easily to interesting, productive discussion topics. This research will provide needed information about cooperative group learning in the history classroom. It will also provide information not only on how to equalize participation, but also how to increase meaningful academic discourse at the same time. To date, most studies on cooperative groups have focused on only one issue or the other. We still do not know how to increase participation while also improving student-tostudent discourse in a middle school history classroom. Description of Interventions In order to improve meaningful and equitable student-to-student discourse in cooperative learning groups I implemented a number of interventions. All interventions were implemented using mixed ability groups consisting of four students each. I collected data from each fourperson group in the class, but I closely monitored eight students, four boys and four girls who
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have demonstrated a range of participation levels in the traditionally organized lecture style classroom to study if their behavior changed or remained the same when placed in cooperative groups. I began by placing students in mixed gender cooperative learning groups and documented participation levels with the absence of any interventions. This served as a starting point and provided baseline data for my research. Next, within the mixed gender groups, I assigned each group member a role. Group roles were as follows: discussion leader (keeps the discussion moving and keeps the group on task), encourager (encourages reluctant students to participate and is a motivator), summarizer (summarizes group’s conclusions and answers throughout discussion), and devil’s advocate (suggests opposing viewpoints or ideas the group has not yet considered). These roles are explained in greater detail in Appendix A. These roles were fashioned after the roles suggested by Smith (1996), and adapted for my students’ needs. I collected data on how group roles effected participation and quality of discourse in mixed gender groups. Finally, within the mixed gender groups I required students to use “accountable talk” strategies (Wolf, Crosson, & Resnick, 2006). These strategies included “linking,” “revoicing,” and “productive questioning.” The students were introduced to these strategies a few days before the intervention took place, and taught the strategies through a model using myself and my cooperating teacher. Please see Appendix B for more details on the accountable talk strategies. I collected data on how accountable talk strategies affected participation and the quality of discourse in mixed gender groups. These three grouping strategies were analyzed individually for level of students’ participation, and then analyzed in comparison to each other, which I explain in the Results and Analysis and Discussion sections below. Students had incentive to perform both their group
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roles and utilize accountable talk strategies through the peer grading that took place on the group evaluation form discussed below. As a second phase of intervention I collected data on the success of group roles and accountable talk strategies in gender-alike groupings. Research performed by Streitmatter (1997) shows that girls are more likely to take academic risks, speak out, and ask questions in single-gender classrooms. I collected data on how this gender variable effected participation and quality of discourse in cooperative group learning. By completing this second phase I was able to assess the benefits and limitations of different strategies to promote student-to-student discourse and participation in cooperative learning groups. I can also fairly accurately judge the role gender grouping plays on these factors in cooperative groups in my classroom. In summary, there were 6 intervention iterations: 1. Mixed gender groups (no specific interaction instructions) 2. Mixed gender (group roles intervention) 3. Mixed gender (accountable talk strategies intervention) 4. Gender-alike intervention (no specific interaction instructions) 5. Gender-alike (group roles intervention) 6. Gender-alike (accountable talk strategies intervention) Because the students were not used to interacting in groups, I expected that as students gained more practice, their participation and quality of discourse would naturally increase incrementally. Intervention Rationale The above interventions were designed based on my review of the literature, my own experiences in cooperative learning groups, and my observations of my students. I chose to
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perform the same interventions on both gender-alike and mixed ability groups to effectively determine the importance of gender grouping. My work was predicted on two major hypotheses: 1) discussion strategies (group roles and accountable talk strategies) will increase equitable participation and meaningful student-to-student discourse, and 2) placing students in singlegender groups will increase equitable participation and meaningful student-to-student discourse. If the mixed gender groups have similar success when using discussion roles or accountable talk strategies as the gender-alike groups, it will suggest that the effects of gender grouping may not be a significant factor in understanding student to student discourse and participation. If the mixed gender groups and single gender groups have different outcomes, the single gender arrangement will be shown to have an impact on level and quality of participation and discourse. If gender significantly impacts student-to-student discourse, it would be important to recognize how this occurs and to understand how to develop strategies to address or ameliorate the consequences so strategies aside from placing students in gender-alike groups to improve performance can be studied. Streitmatter (1997) and others advocate that gender arrangements are the primary strategy to enhance educational outcomes. Understanding how mixed groups can achieve similar or enhanced outcomes by implementing teaching strategies can add to the conversation about single sex education. My second hypothesis was related to group interventions strategies – assigning group roles and teaching accountable talk strategies. I suspected that if I included these strategies they would mollify the effect of gender in cooperative learning groups. If group roles or accountable talk strategies rendered the greatest participation and meaningful discourse, it may be possible to conclude that gender separation is less important than discussion strategies that are built in to support participation and meaningful discourse. However, if participation and meaningful
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discourse were more frequent in all the interventions using gender-alike groupings, my research will support the work of Streitmatter and others who deem gender as the most important factor in cooperative group learning. I considered a variety of potential complications that could affect the cooperative learning groups including: differences in ability, differences in motivation, specific students who are unable to get along with each other, etc. Being aware of these complicating factors, I carefully chose the groupings to include students of varied levels of ability and motivation. I also ensured that students who I know cannot work together were not placed in the same group. This allowed me to minimize the complications and maintain the highest degree of consistency across each of the interventions, allowing me to effectively isolate the impact of the independent variables. I chose to focus on group roles and accountable talk strategies because these are both interventions that research has suggested have the potential of supporting students with the procedural knowledge as to how to improve discussions in a group setting. The intention was that by scaffolding students to follow certain procedures during discussion, they would eventually be able to internalize these discussion norms and follow them without prescribed roles or talk rules. Although this study did not look at the aspect of sustainability in cooperative group learning behaviors, the topic may make for another interesting study that focuses on transfer of knowledge. Before beginning my study, I expected that my interventions would have an impact. I expected that girls would have more meaningful and equitable student-to-student talk in the gender-alike groupings. Many of the males in my classroom were loud and dominant, and I thought this might be contributing to the lack of participation I see from at least some of my female students. I also expected that in both gender-alike and mixed gender groups the students
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would dislike the accountable talk strategies. But, I also thought the accountable talk strategies would facilitate the most meaningful student-to-student discourse because they would force students to truly listen to each other, consider each others’ ideas, respond directly to each other, and think critically. I thought the discussion roles would be favored by students and would create the most equitable discourse. I thought the students would benefit from and appreciate having a specific role and a clear understanding of what was expected of them. I predicted the roles would be the easiest way to ensure all students participate equally.
I anticipated possible
changes that would need to be made from during my interventions. I kept the groups of four the same throughout the gender-alike interventions, and then again for the mixed gender interventions. I anticipated that I may have to make a few changes to the groups along the way. Because of lack of experience in cooperative learning groups, I could not anticipate how certain students would react to one another. I observed the groups carefully in the first few interventions, looking for students that simply could not work together, but I did not have to change any groupings. Data Collection Methods I collected data in a variety of ways. Before any interventions were implemented I gave students a survey that used Likert scales to measure students’ affect about different aspects of group work. Students then explained their answers in short paragraphs. Survey questions asked about students’ levels of participation and comfort in groups. The survey also asked students if their peers listened to them and if they tried to help their group members. I then gave a similar affective survey at the conclusion of the study to track changes in student perception of group work through the use of the various interventions. See Appendix C for the pre-study survey, and Appendix D for the post-study survey.
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During the group discussions I recorded the eight students that I pre-selected with digital audio recorders. These eight students were specifically chosen to serve as a representative sample of the class as a whole. I observed the students throughout my time with them as a student teacher during individual work, class discussions, and peer interaction, and chose students who represented a variety of ability, motivation, and participation levels. I then transcribed five minutes of their discussions during each group activity and evaluated their effectiveness as measured by who spoke, length of contribution, and quality of contribution. I then calculated each group’s amount of positive talk and negative talk. Discourse was considered positive talk if a student said something that positively contributed to the discussion, such as introducing a new topic, inviting a group member to participate, using an accountable talk strategy, or advancing understanding of the content. Discourse was considered negative talk if a student engaged in off topic talk, interrupted a group member, or put a group member or idea down. See Appendix E for the transcription guide and a list of all possible types of positive and negative talk. I had the students evaluate themselves and their peers at the close of every group discussion. They rated themselves and their group members on a scale from one to four. The grading guide for the peer evaluation was as follows: A group member earned one point if they did not participate, listen, distracted the group or engaged in off-task behavior, and made it hard to learn; a group member earned two points if they participated a little and listened sometimes; a group member earned three points if they participated most of the time and listened well; a group member earned four points if they consistently participated and listened, and helped other group members. Additional scoring guidelines were added depending on the intervention. For example, during the group roles intervention whether or not a student performed the duties of
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their group role factored into their score. Students also reflected on the group discussion and the intervention method used. See Appendix F for the group evaluation form. Finally, I kept informal observation notes during each of the interventions. I recorded my overall thoughts on level of student participation and interest, quality of discourse, and effectiveness of group work. These notes and reactions were recorded as reflections of my general impressions on level of participation and meaningful discourse at the end of each of the interventions. Because of my dual role of teacher and researcher, this allowed me to both facilitate the groups during class, while still recording my thoughts and observations directly after class. Rationale for Data Collection Methods My data collections methods were chosen to ensure triangulation of data through informal observations, audio recordings of discussions, and student feedback on peer evaluation forms. The affective survey gives me information on how students feel about group work and their own level of participation when working and discussing in cooperative learning groups. By comparing a pre-study survey with a post-study survey, I am able to evaluate a change in student attitude as a result of the various interventions. Aside from assessing change of attitude toward group work, I designed this research to assess an actual change in student performance. I measured this by the audio recordings of group discussions to determine quality of discourse produced by each grouping organization. The recordings provide concrete evidence of what actually took place during each discussion, allowing me to evaluate the level of meaningful and equitable student-to-student discourse resulting from each intervention. By transcribing the audio recordings of student discussions and
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comparing them across interventions, I can measure any change that occurs in quality of discourse and level of participation. Finally, the peer evaluation forms were used for three main reasons. Research shows that students work most effectively in groups when they are assessed on the effectiveness of the group as a whole, and their individual contributions (Slavin, 1987). The peer grading helped motivate students to participate in order to receive a good grade from their peers. The peer evaluation form also allowed students to self-assess and reflect on ways they could make their group more successful. This metacognition of the process is an important step for students on the path to improvement and growth. Finally, it allowed me to study how the students viewed the success of each of the interventions, an important variable to consider when comparing successes and failures of the different grouping organizations. After each intervention, the evaluation form was modified slightly to get feedback on student perception of the effects of each intervention. When combined with the actual data on what happened from the transcriptions, this information gave me a full picture on the success of each intervention.
Examining Â Cooperative Â Learning Â Â Â 20 Â Â
Implementation Summary Chart Week April 13-17
Intervention Â‡Pre study affective survey Â‡0L[HGJHQGHUGDWD collection
April 20-24 April 27-May 1
No action research interventions Â‡0Lxed gender group roles Â‡7HDFKDFFRXQWDEOH talk strategies
May 4-8 May 11-15
Â‡0L[HGJHQGHU accountable talk strategies Â‡*HQGHU-alike intervention
Data Collection Methods Â‡Survey
Â‡Analyzing different perspectives on slavery
Â‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes
Â‡ Geographic, economic, and cultural differences in the North and South
Â‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes
Â‡([SODQDWLRQPRGHO discussion, and student identification of strategies Â‡ Analyzing Civil War songs Â‡$QDO\]LQJLPDJHVRI emancipation of slaves
Â‡Gender-alike group roles
Â‡(YDOXDWLQJGLIIHUHQW Reconstruction plans
Â‡*HQGHU-alike accountable talk strategies Â‡3RVW-study survey
Â‡([DPLQLQJ-LP&URZ laws and the Ku Klux Klan
Â‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes Â‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes Â‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes Â‡5HFRUGLQJSHHU evaluation, observation notes Â‡Survey
Phase 1: Mixed Gender Groupings Pre-study Survey Before beginning my study I had the students complete the Pre-Study Survey. This survey was meant to gauge studentsâ€™ overall attitudes on group work and their individual participation levels during group work. Because I had only witnessed the students in groups one time before the beginning of my study, the survey provided necessary information about the studentsâ€™ affect regarding group work. The majority (21) of students agreed with the statement Â
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“I like working in groups.” The next most popular answer was strongly agree (10). Two students disagreed to liking group work, and one student strongly disagreed. When asked what their favorite thing about working in a group was, most students talked about getting more ideas, helping each other out, and working with friends. Here are some representative responses: x x x x
“We share our opinions and try to understand it better.” Enrique “I can get other ideas when I’m stuck.” Diamond “It’s fun and you actually get work done with your friends.” Emari “You have more information about the thing that you need to work on or you have more ideas about it.” Gennia
Most responses about students’ least favorite things about working in groups included unequal participation, not getting to work with their friends, and a lack of cooperation within the group. Here are some representative responses: x x x x x
“Some people just mess around while the rest are doing the work.” Aura “I don’t like when I am in a group that doesn’t work together and gets nothing done.” Enrique “I don’t like being paired with people that I don’t know, or not any of my friends.” Jerel “You might not like the people in your group.” Michael “I don’t like when I do all the work and my group does nothing.” Josh The majority of students (23) agreed that when in a group they participate as much as
their other group members. Seven students strongly agreed, while five students either disagreed or strongly disagreed. When asked why they do or don’t participate, the overwhelming majority of students said they participate to get a good grade. Most students who do not participate do so because they don’t like their group members or don’t know the answers. Here are some common and notable answers: x x x x x
“I don’t participate when there are people in my group that I do NOT like.” Alex H. “I participate sometimes when I’m sure I know the answer or have an idea.” Jenny V. “I contribute when I know something, that’s it.” Xavier “I like to participate because [my group members] can use my ideas.” Enrique “I participate because I like to get good grades.” Josh
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The majority of students (18) agreed that they felt comfortable sharing their ideas in a discussion. Nine students, however, disagreed with the statement. One student strongly disagreed and five students strongly agreed. Each of the answer options were evenly split between boys and girls, in other words, there was no trend by gender. Common reasons students did feel comfortable sharing were that they knew they were adding more ideas to the group and helping out, and that they would not be criticized. x x x x
“No one is going to say anything bad about what I said.” Kathleen “I feel comfortable because I usually know what I’m talking about.” Chelsea “I feel comfortable because I’m adding more details to the work and my group members can get an idea from it.” Antonio “Maybe my answers will help.” Aura
Most students who did not feel comfortable sharing felt so because they don’t want to “sound dumb” if they get the wrong answer. x x x x
“I don’t like sharing because I might have the wrong answer.” Jenny L. “I’m not good at sharing ideas.” Matt “I don’t like sharing ideas because some people can say they are dumb.” Nixie “I don’t want to sound stupid.” Jeremy When asked if they think their group members listen to them when working in a group,
the majority of students (17) agreed, and four students strongly agreed. However, eleven students disagreed with the statement. Again, there was no substantial trend by gender in answering this question. Overwhelmingly the students said that they knew if their group members were listening to them if they were looking at them (eye contact), and responding back to what they said. Finally, the majority of students (20) agreed that they try to help their group members understand and do well on the assignment when in groups, with six students strongly agreeing. It is interesting to note that the four students who either disagreed or strongly disagreed with this
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statement are all girls. However, their explanations do not give any indication of why they do not help their peers. All the other responses were again split equally between the genders. When asked what kinds of things they do to help each other, most students said they try to help their peers understand, show them what to do, and that they do so because they know it will affect their grade on the group project. Representative responses include: x x x x x
“When someone does not get something I do things step by step with them to help them understand.” Josh “I explain it more than once.” Adryan “I try to give them some examples and others could do the same.” Alex T. “I can tell them my ideas and help people if they’re stuck and I want people to do the same to me.” Aaron “I help cause it is part of my grade sometimes so if they do bad then I do bad, so I have to help them so we can both get good grades.” Jonathan G.
Overall, the study revealed to me that the majority of students like group work, feel comfortable sharing ideas, try to participate and help others, and are listened to by their peers. Initial Mixed Gender Grouping Before performing any interventions I wanted to collect data on the students’ level of participation and meaningful discourse while in groups without any interaction instructions. I placed the students in mixed gender, mixed ability groups of four. These groups remained the same for all the mixed gender groupings. Throughout the study, while in groups, students sat in tables of four facing each other. The lesson for this day had the students reading about and recording different perspectives on slavery from various abolitionists during the early to mid 1800’s. The students then had to compose a short paragraph answering the following question: If you were a white person in the 1800’s, would you become an abolitionist, speak out against slavery, and/or try to help slaves gain freedom? Why or why not? (Please see Appendix G for lesson plan and materials) Each table was given 4 reading packets, and each student had to fill
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out their own graphic organizer and write their own paragraph. Although this assignment could have been completed by the students individually, my assumption was that given the option to work together to discuss the best answers, they would do so. The students were not given any interaction instructions. The only group expectation given by the teacher was that the students were allowed to work together, as long as they each turned in their own worksheet. They were reminded that a few groups would be recorded for research purposes, and that the recordings would not be used in any way for grading purposes. Results The results of the initial grouping were very interesting. Overall, the students did not work together in their groups. Here is an excerpt from my research journal: Very few groups engaged in any sort of discussion involving the task. The class was more quiet today than they have been in weeks! There was one group that I think did not say one word to each other the entire time. The data from the audio recording confirmed my observations. During minutes 2-7 of the recording, Group 1 had only 30 seconds of positive talk, and 95 seconds of negative talk (see the transcription guide in Appendix F for explanations of positive and negative talk). The remaining 3 minutes and 55 seconds they were silent. The two girls and one of the boys in Group 1 spoke three times each, while one boy only spoke once. Group 2’s results were even more extreme. During minutes 2-7 they had only 9 seconds of positive talk and 10 seconds of negative talk. They were silent for the remainder of the five minutes. In Group 2, one boy spoke 3 times, one boy spoke once, and neither of the girls spoke at all. (See the graphs on page 50 for a visual representation of positive versus negative talk) I also noted in my research journal that the design of the lesson may have had something to do with the lack of cooperative group work:
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Because there were 4 different sheets the students had to read, I think they simply took turns with each one and passed them around the group, reading and writing about each sheet individually without discussing with each other. Maybe if I would have stapled the 4 sheets together they would have had to share and talk more (or they would simply rip them apart). Because the students were given no real incentive to work on the assignment cooperatively, almost all students opted to work on it by themselves. Furthermore, I noted a change in their perception about group work in general: When I introduced my research and told them they would be doing group work, they all seemed really excited. Today as they walked in, I told them which table group to go to. It seems that when they realized they were not placed with their friends they no longer liked group work. At the end of class a few students asked me if we would be doing this tomorrow. I told them no, and they said, “Good!” They really don’t seem to like working with people that aren’t their friends! It is important to keep in mind that this is one of the first times these students have worked in groups of any kind – teacher selected or student selected – in this class. The above observation from my research journal prompted me to closely follow the students’ affect about group work throughout the study. Observation/Analysis This initial grouping provided very useful information for my research project and effectively validated the need for my study in this classroom. This initial grouping can also provide useful information to teachers who think group work alone helps students learn. The students were not given any incentive to work together, proving that just throwing students in groups does not mean they will interact. My prediction after this initial grouping was that the addition of the group roles, peer evaluations, and collection of only one worksheet per group that was planned for each intervention would cause the students to participate more meaningfully and equitably.
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Mixed Gender Group Roles The first intervention I performed was to give the students assigned roles in mixed gender groupings to evaluate if they would help equalize participation and contribute to the quality of discourse. I kept the students in the same mixed gender groups they were placed in initially and I assigned each group member one of four roles – discussion leader, summarizer, encourager, or devil’s advocate. The lesson for the day focused on the geographic, economic, and cultural differences between the North and South. The students had to first view a chart of differences and draw a symbol representing each characteristic described. Then, the group had to answer 5 questions evaluating the effects of the differences (see Appendix H for lesson plan and materials). After a brief introduction, I explained each of the four group roles to ensure all students understood the purpose and responsibility of each role. I then explained the peer evaluation form in which the students would grade both themselves and their group members at the end of class. Finally, I explained the expectations for the assignment. I made it clear that every student needed to fill out a worksheet, but at the end of class I would come around to each table and collect only one student’s worksheet which would serve as the grade for the whole group. Each student’s grade was based on the worksheet and their peer evaluation score, so they were held accountable both to the group and to themselves. I also explained to the students that for the first 5 minutes they would not be allowed to write, they could discuss only. This was meant to ensure that the students had a strong start to their discussion. Results The results from the mixed gender group roles were much different than from the initial recording. Overall, the students participated more and engaged in a higher level of discourse. Here is an excerpt from my research journal:
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Overall, this intervention was much more successful for increasing participation, but I am not yet sure its effect on the quality of discourse. I heard kids trying to use the roles. I also heard some students making fun of the roles (I expected this). The data from the audio recordings showed vast improvements in both amount of meaningful discourse and in level of participation over the initial grouping. During minutes 2-7 of the recording Group 1 had 2 minutes and 20 seconds of positive talk, almost a minute more than the initial recording. They also had only 20 seconds of negative talk. It is interesting to note that the girls in Group 1 did almost all of the talking – one girl (discussion leader) spoke 16 times, while the other (encourager) spoke 14 times. One of the boys (devil’s advocate) spoke 5 times and the other boy (summarizer) did not speak at all. Group 2’s results showed a less marked improvement over the initial recording. During minutes 2-7 they had 32 seconds of positive talk and 21 seconds of negative talk. There was still a lot of silence in this group, possibly indicating a lot of individual work. The boy who assumed the role of discussion leader spoke 3 times, while the other boy (summarizer) spoke 2 times. The girl who was the devil’s advocate spoke 2 times, while the other girl (encourager) spoke only 1 time. In addition, I noted in my research journal that the students seemed to like this group arrangement more: Students enjoyed this activity more than the groups without roles. They did not complain, they were smiling, they had more to say, and they had better energy. I additionally noted what I thought contributed to overall increased participation: I collected only 1 worksheet from each group giving them more incentive to work together and help each other out. This with the peer evaluation did a lot to influence participation. Additionally, I had data from the questions asked on the peer evaluation forms. The final question read, “Do you think the group roles helped in your discussion today? Why or why
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not?” Twenty students thought they helped, while twelve thought they did not help. Most of the students who said the roles helped attributed it to understanding what they had to do in the discussion and helping each other out: x x x
“They helped because we helped each other out when we were confused or stuck.” Jenny V. “They helped because it gave us an idea on how to act.” Viviana “We were all organized.” Josh The twelve students who did not think the roles helped stated that they either didn’t use
them or didn’t need them: x x x
They didn’t really help because I don’t think people paid attention to it.” Adryan They didn’t really help because it would have been the same thing if we didn’t get the roles.” Alex T. The roles didn’t really help because we didn’t really use them that much.” Jenny L.
Observations/Analysis Assigning group roles had an overall positive effect on participation and quality of discourse. Although the overall amount of participation increased, the participation within groups was still notably unequal. In Group 1 two members dominated the conversation, while Group 2 maintained a more even level of participation. The amount a student participated cannot be linked to what role they played, excluding the discussion leader, who in both groups spoke the most. The group roles did have a notable effect on the quality of discourse as both groups showed increased amounts of positive talk. It is important to note that the addition of three elements to the group work also played a role in increased participation and quality of discourse: the students held a straight discussion, without the distraction of writing, for 5 minutes; I only collected one worksheet per group, providing incentive to work together to arrive at the best answers; and the students had a chance to grade each other on their participation and fulfillment of the duties of their roles.
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As evidenced on the peer evaluation responses, the students really seemed to like the structure the group roles provided. I noted a similar idea in my research journal: I think the roles gave students a goal and a focus to their discussion. As expected, some students were reluctant to use the roles, and therefore did not have a chance to see the benefit in them. This reluctance might change over time if students are given more support to use the roles in ways that effectively lead to better achievement outcomes. This would require further research where students could practice group roles over an extended period of time. Mixed Gender Accountable Talk Strategies The second intervention performed required the groups to employ accountable talk strategies during discussion in their mixed gender groupings. I again kept the students in the same mixed gender groups. I taught the students the three accountable talk strategies – linking, revoicing, and productive questioning – two days before the second group intervention. I first briefly described each of the strategies, then had students read and understand them with their pair-share partner so they could put them in their own words to explain them. Students were then called on to explain each strategy to the class. Next, my cooperating teacher and I modeled a discussion, as the students read along to a transcribed version of the discussion. After the discussion, the class as a whole identified where in the discussion specific strategies were used (see Appendix I for the transcribed discussion annotated with the strategies). At the close of the lesson I felt that the students understood the strategies very well and could successfully identify them. I wrote in my research journal: It went so well! The students understood the strategies really well and identified almost all of the places they were used. Everyone was listening and there was a lot of participation.
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In the lesson for the second intervention the students analyzed different Civil War songs. Before explaining the lesson I reviewed the accountable talk strategies with the students. I then reviewed the peer evaluation form, pointing out that in order to get a high score they would need to use the accountable talk strategies. I also made one change in the peer evaluation form – I added a column next to the score where I required students to explain why they were giving the score they were giving. I did this so the students would more carefully consider the scores they were assigning their peers. I also reminded the students that I would again only be collecting one worksheet from each group. Then I explained the assignment and the students got to work (see Appendix J for lesson plan and materials). Results Overall, the accountable talk strategies in mixed gender groupings did not elicit meaningful discourse or participation. I remarked in my research journal: Today was not as successful as I hoped. The students were very engaged during the teaching of the accountable talk strategies and they knew them very well. However, walking around today, I did not hear one strategy being used! The data from the audio recordings paints a similar picture. During minutes 2-7 Group 1 had 1 minute and 47 seconds of positive talk, and only six seconds of negative talk. However, during this time, no accountable talk strategies were used. One of the male students spoke 5 times, while the other spoke only 1 time. One of the girls spoke 6 times and the other spoke 4 times. Group 2’s results are more extreme. During minutes 2-7 they have 44 seconds of positive talk and 1 minute and 14 seconds of negative talk. Again, no accountable talk strategies are used. One male student dominated the conversation, speaking 10 times, while the other male spoke 1 time. One female spoke 2 times, and the other spoke 1 time. Both groups seemed to
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lack a leader that was willing to take charge and get the conversation started, and both groups struggled to stay on task. The responses on the peer evaluation forms surprised me and complicate the data. In answer to the question, “Do you think the accountable talk strategies helped in your discussion today? Why or why not?” thirteen students answered no, while 18 students answered yes. Every student that answered no said they did not use the accountable talk strategies, with only two students explaining why they weren’t used. x x x x
“They were not helpful because we did not use them.” Michael “No, they didn’t help. I didn’t use them in the group discussion.” Emari “No, they didn’t really help because it would get awkward anyway.” Alex T. “No, they didn’t help because it made it harder for us to talk.” Alex H.
The students who said they helped gave a variety of reasons: x x x x x x
“They did help because they make us talk to each other and start a conversation.” Ranializa “They helped me understand.” Jenny V. “They helped get organized in conversations.” Genesis “They helped because I looked at them for guidance to talk about the subject.” Josh “They helped. It made the conversation more interesting.” Ashley “They helped me understand things more.” Jerel
Although my observation that the strategies were not used was agreed upon by about half the class, the other half seemed to perceive a benefit to them. Observations/Analysis The data on the effectiveness of accountable talk strategies in mixed gender groups is unclear and inconclusive. Although not evidenced on the recordings, according to the peer evaluation comments, some students found guidance in the strategies and were able to use them to advance their discussions. However, about half of the class did not use the strategies. I think there are a number of reasons this may have been the case. Although the students were engaged
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in the teaching of the accountable talk strategies and able to identify them in a conversation, being able to notice a strategy and being able to use a strategy are two very different tasks. One does not automatically lead to the other. I also think the students perceived the strategies as an unnatural way to talk, and therefore did not try them. In my research journal I acknowledged their potentially awkward nature: I know the accountable talk strategies are awkward – they might work better for an activity that is only discussion (not discussion and writing). This comment brings up another possible issue. I believe the students may have been overwhelmed by the multiple tasks in the assignment. They had to analyze and interpret three Civil War songs that they had never heard before, discuss with their group, write their answers on the worksheet, and try to use three separate accountable talk strategies for the first time. The strategies may have been more effective and easy to employ if they were asked to focus on only one and really work on incorporating that strategy into discussion. Phase 2: Gender-Alike Groupings Same Gender Initial Grouping My Phase 2 interventions involved placing the students in new, same gender groupings to try to determine the role gender plays in equitable participation and quality of discourse. For the first gender-alike intervention, I placed students in four person groups that contained all boys or all girls. These groups stayed the same throughout the gender-alike interventions. In an effort to keep some group continuity, I left the girls in each group together and the boys in each group together. These gender-alike pairs were then paired up with 2 girls or 2 boys from another group. For this intervention the students were given no interaction instructions (no group roles or accountable talk strategies were required). This was done to isolate the role gender plays in
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groupings. However, the students did still fill out peer evaluations, and I only collected one worksheet from each group, which again kept them accountable to themselves and to their group members. In the lesson for this day I began by reading and analyzing the Emancipation Proclamation with the class as a whole, to ensure everyone understood the document’s meaning. Then, in groups, students viewed two different images drawn by Thomas Nast – one drawn right after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and one drawn two years later. The students then discussed and answered 3 questions for each of the images. I again required the groups to discuss only for 5 minutes straight before they could begin writing. (see Appendix K for lesson plan and materials) Results The first gender-alike grouping was very successful in generating positive talk and equitable participation. Both myself and my cooperating teacher felt that this was the most successful grouping yet. Here is an excerpt from my research journal: Overall, I was very pleased with the group interactions. I observed the most on task behavior for this grouping than any other. It will be interesting to see if this grouping brings about the most meaningful discourse (my prediction is it does). Grace [my cooperating teacher] said that this was the best grouping she had observed yet and agreed that they were really on task and involved in the assignment. The data from the audio recording confirms my observation. During minutes 2-7, the Female Group had 1 minute and 44 seconds of positive talk, and no instances of negative talk. One of the girls was absent from the group, one spoke 15 times, one spoke 8 times, and the other spoke 7 times. For the girl who spoke 8 times in particular, she made a great leap in participation compared to the mixed gender grouping. During the three mixed gender groupings she only spoke twice in total. The gender-alike grouping improved her participation by four
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times. The Male Group’s results were not as conclusive. During minutes 2-7 they had 40 seconds of positive talk and 8 second of negative talk. This group had long periods of silence. One boy spoke 6 times, another 4 times, another 1 time, and the final boy did not speak. Three of the focus group boys either showed no change or increased participation in the gender-alike grouping, except for the boy who did not speak, whose participation level dropped compared to the mixed gender groupings. The responses on the peer evaluation forms painted an interesting picture. When asked, “Do you think being in a same-gender group helped in your discussion today? Why or why not?” there was a clear difference in male responses and female responses. The males were split on this issue, with 8 saying it did help and 9 saying it didn’t help. The boys that said it helped cited the fact that it was easier to talk and that they got to work with their friends: x x x
“It helped cause we’re all friends.” Antonio “It was easier to talk to each other, so I guess it kind of helped.” Jonathan G. “It kind of helped. It was easier to talk to each other.” Jerel The boys that did not think the gender-alike grouping helped in the discussion
commented that it didn’t affect their group performance: x x x
“It didn’t really do anything.” Chris “It doesn’t matter.” Joseph “It didn’t really help that much because I can talk freely between any gender.” Alex T. The girls who thought the gender-alike groupings helped cited similar reasons as the
boys: x x x
“It did help. It was easier to talk.” Nixie “It helped because we get along.” Jenny L. It did help because it makes it easy to talk.” Viviana
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The girls who did not think the gender-alike groupings helped either did not think the grouping made a difference, or found working with other girls a distraction because of the temptation to get off task: x x x
“They didn’t help because we gossip about people.” Ranializa “They didn’t help. It was all the same.” Chelsea “They didn’t help because we just gossiped.” Jasmine It is interesting to note that of the girls who did not think the gender-alike groups helped,
four of them were in the same group. From their comments we can infer that they got off task during the group work. Only two girls outside that group did not think the gender-alike groupings helped. Observations/Analysis Although the affects of this intervention on the male students is not totally clear, the data from both the audio recordings and the peer evaluations show that for most girls, the genderalike groupings had a notable impact in both equitable participation and meaningful discourse. My personal observation was that the whole class was more on task during this intervention than during any of the previous iterations. I did note one caveat in my research journal: I wonder if [the added participation] has anything to do with the actual assignment. Today they were analyzing two visuals and this always seems to be more engaging for them than text. I have observed throughout the semester that the students show special interest when they are asked to interpret visuals, so this may have played a role in the added participation and on task behavior. Same Gender Group Roles The second intervention in Phase 2 was to give the students assigned group roles within the gender-alike groupings. The four roles employed remained the same – discussion leader,
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summarizer, encourager, and devil’s advocate. I again assigned the roles to the students based on what I thought would be best for both the individual student and the group as a whole. When possible I tried to assign the student the same role they were assigned in the mixed gender grouping, but due to the mix up of groups, some students’ roles changed. I began the lesson for the day by reviewing the previous day’s information regarding the end of the Civil War. I then explained the concept of Reconstruction and gave an example of President Lincoln’s Reconstruction plan. Next, I explained the assignment they would be completing (please see Appendix L for lesson plan and materials). After this, I had the students remind each other of the duties of each of the group roles, and ensured that everyone knew their role for the day. I also informed them that they would again be completing a peer evaluation, that I would only collect one worksheet, and that they could not write (only discuss) for the first 5 minutes of work time. The groups were then released to get to work. Results The results of the group roles in gender-alike groupings were mixed. I felt lukewarm about it in my research journal: Overall, this wasn’t the best grouping. I observed a fair amount of off-task behavior. However, some of the answers on the worksheets were very well thought out. The data from the audio recordings gives a slightly more positive result. During minutes 2-7 the Female Group had 1 minute and 32 seconds of positive talk. This was slightly less than during the last intervention. However, they again had no instances of negative talk. One girl (summarizer) spoke 9 times, another (discussion leader) 8 times, another (encourager) 3 times, and one girl (devil’s advocate) did not speak. Only one student, the discussion leader, was consciously performing the duties of her role. During minutes 2-7 the Male Group had 53
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seconds of positive talk which was a slight improvement from the last intervention. They also had 14 seconds of negative talk. One of the boys (encourager) spoke 3 times, another (devil’s advocate) spoke 2 times, another (summarizer) spoke 2 times, and one boy (discussion leader) did not speak. None of the boys were consciously performing the duties of their roles. It again appears that the data from the audio recording does not point to one role that yields the most participation over another. The responses on the peer evaluation forms were mixed. Fourteen students thought the group roles helped in the discussion, while 20 students thought they did not help. Those who thought they helped stated that they either helped the students communicate, or helped keep the group on task: x x x
“They always help because it helps us communicate easier.” Viviana “They helped. They kept us on track.” Cameron “Using the group roles makes us talk.” Ranializa The students who did not think the group roles helped in the gender-alike groups stated
that they either didn’t use the roles or didn’t like their individual role: x x x
“They didn’t help. We didn’t use them.” Emari “They didn’t really help because I don’t like being the discussion leader.” Jerel “They didn’t really help because we didn’t use them.” Aaron As with the last group role intervention, there was some resistance to using the roles,
causing some students to not see the benefit to them. No students articulated why they did not use the roles, so no definite conclusion can be made on this point. Observations/Analysis The data suggest that the group roles did not play a large role in equitable participation and meaningful discourse during this intervention. However, both the boys and girls in the focus groups engaged in relatively high levels of positive talk with relatively low levels of negative
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talk (none in the case of the Female Group). It can then be inferred that the continued level of participation and positive talk should be attributed to the gender-alike groupings and not to the assigned group roles. Same Gender Accountable Talk Strategies The final intervention in the gender-alike groupings and in the research project as a whole was accountable talk strategies in gender-alike groups. This day’s lesson started with a review of content from yesterday’s lesson including the Freedman’s Bureau and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. I then reviewed the accountable talk strategies with the students. After going over what each of them meant, I gave a sample comment and asked students to reply with either a linking, revoicing, or productive question comment. This was done to ensure their understanding of the strategies while providing the students examples and practice in using the strategies. Next, I went over the logistics of the group assignment – peer evaluation and discussion for five minutes straight. Because this particular assignment contained a writing component, I informed the students that I would be collecting worksheets from each student, but still grading the first 3 tasks (see assignment) on only one group members’ responses. Their grade on this assignment would derive from the score from one group member’s assignment on tasks 1-3, their individual score for the writing assignment in task 4, and the peer evaluations. This was done to provide an incentive to work together, while still rewarding students for individual effort. Finally, I went over the assignment with the students (please see Appendix M for lesson plan and materials).
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Results The accountable talk strategy in gender-alike groupings was the least successful intervention in Phase 2 in eliciting meaningful discourse and participation. Here is an excerpt from my research journal: Overall, it seemed to go okay. I still don’t think the students used the strategies much at all. The data from the audio recordings clearly shows a drop in participation and in meaningful discourse for both the Female and Male Group. During minutes 2-7 the Female Group had only 15 seconds of positive talk and 28 seconds of negative talk. One girl spoke 2 times, another spoke once, and the two remaining girls did not speak. No accountable talk strategies were used. During minutes 2-7 the Male Group had 18 seconds of positive talk and 28 seconds of negative talk. One boy spoke five times, one spoke twice, and the two other boys did not speak. For both the Female and Male groups this was the least successful grouping because both groups engaged in more negative than positive talk and showed very little participation. While the data from the audio recordings seems very clear, the responses on the peer evaluation forms do not corroborate the data. When asked, “Do you think the accountable talk strategies helped in your discussion today? Why or why not?” a surprising 21 students said yes, while 10 students said no. Those who thought they did help said they helped their groups both communicate and understand the content better: x x x x
“They kind of did help because they brought a lot of conversation and ideas.” Kristal “They did help because we communicated easier.” Viviana “They helped because they help us understand what we’re talking about more.” Kathleen “They helped us get ideas.” Jonathan G. The students who did not think they helped equated a lack of conversation to the failure
of the accountable talk strategies:
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x x x
“They didn’t help because today we didn’t talk that much.” Enrique “They didn’t help. We barely talked.” Jordan “They didn’t help. We didn’t talk.” Chelsea
Observations/Analysis The data for the accountable talk strategies in gender-alike groups is confusing. Although the audio recordings show a failed intervention, over half the class perceived that the accountable talk strategies helped in their discussions. Some students seemed to turn to the strategies when they were confused or had a lag in conversation and found them helpful. Conversely, some groups barely communicated at all. I wonder if because of the difficulty with accountable talk strategies during the previous intervention, some groups decided not to bother trying them or discussing at all. In my research journal I again note that three strategies may be too many for the students: Three strategies at once may be too much and I should focus on one strategy at a time. This would provide more scaffolding. Post-Study Survey At the close of the study I had the students fill out a post-study survey. I wanted to track how their perception of group work had changed throughout the research project, and gauge their overall feelings on each of the interventions implemented. Just like the pre-study survey, the students were first asked if they like working in groups. The majority of students (21) agreed, while six strongly agreed. Eight students disagreed and no students strongly disagreed. The exact same number of students (21) agreed they liked working in groups before and after the study. However, fewer students strongly agreed and more students disagreed. This shows that for a small number of students, the study made them dislike working in groups more than they previously had. Among the focus group of 8 students, 2 students changed their answers from
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agreeing to like working in groups in the pre-study survey, to disagreeing in the post-study survey. All the other focus group students agreed with the statement on both surveys. When asked what makes a group successful, most students stated that all members of the group need to work together and participate: x x x x
“A group is successful if we stay on the subject, work together, and share ideas.” Phuong “A group is successful when people in a group participate, and when my group mates are working hard.” Ranializa “A group is successful when each person gives ideas so everyone will have all these good ideas to put down.” Jonathan G. “A group is successful if we all participate and help each other out.” Jerel
When asked what makes a group unsuccessful, most students cited a lack of participation among group members and off task behavior: x x x x
“A group is unsuccessful when we get off task and talk about a totally different topic.” Michael “A group is unsuccessful when no one participates or talks to each other and won’t get ideas from other people.” Jonathan G. “A group is unsuccessful when the group gets off task.” Alex H. “A group is unsuccessful when people don’t talk in the group and all they do is talk about something off subject.” Diamond When asked if the group roles helped in discussion, the class was quite split. A majority
(15) agreed, while 12 students disagreed. Seven students strongly disagreed, and only 1 student strongly agreed. It is interesting to note that 3 of the focus group students strongly disagreed with the statement, meaning they made up about half of all students who strongly disagreed. Their attitude towards the group roles may have been a factor in their success (or lack of) in using the group roles. When asked why the group roles did or didn’t help, most students that thought they helped said the roles provided organization. The roles also seemed to provide comfort for students because they were clear on their duties during the discussion: x x
“The roles helped me because it showed me what I should do.” Phuong “I think they helped organize the discussion a little bit more.” Jordan
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“The roles made me have my own part to say, everyone did. It made me discuss and participate more often.” Jerel “I do think they helped because I know when I am supposed to come in.” Xavier
Most of the students that did not think the roles helped said they either did not use the roles or that they did not like the specific role they were assigned: x x x x
“I just don’t think anyone really uses them.” Viviana “It’s really not helpful and most people don’t do it.” Jonathan F. “Some people may not be good at their role.” Jacob “No one follows them and everyone has their own things to say and the roles take that away.” Kristal When asked if the accountable talk strategies helped in the discussion I was again
surprised by the outcome. Although I observed that the students didn’t utilize the accountable talk strategies, students preferred the accountable talk strategies over the group roles. The majority of students (21) agreed, while 10 disagreed. Three strongly disagreed and only 1 strongly agreed. The focus group again did not exactly mirror the class as a whole. While 4 of the focus students agreed, 2 disagreed and 2 strongly disagreed. This should be considered when reviewing the data from the audio recordings. Most of the students who thought the accountable talk strategies helped stated that they focused the group and helped them understand the content better. They also helped keep conversation going: x x x x x x
“It helps us focus on our lesson because someone is asking questions and stuff.” Ranializa “It keeps the conversation going.” Jonathan F. “They helped because my group was then able to understand the reading better.” Jacob “They do help because you always have something to talk about and it helps you think deeper.” Jordan “We all had something to talk about and kept on subject.” Genesis “If we didn’t know what to talk about we would use them.” Xavier Most of the students who did not think the accountable talk strategies helped said they
either did not use them, that they were awkward, or that they were hard to understand:
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x “We did not use them.” Michael x “It helped kind of, but it was kind of hard.” Jerel x “No one really used them because they were just not in the flow [of conversation]. No one talks like that. They were hard.” Kristal x “We don’t talk like that.” Chris x “We didn’t know what they meant.” Kathleen When asked if the gender-alike groups helped in discussion, the majority of students (15) agreed, or strongly agreed (9). Nine students disagreed and 2 students strongly disagreed. It is interesting to note the breakdown of this answer by gender. Thirteen boys agreed, while 3 strongly agreed. Five boys disagreed, and 2 strongly disagreed. Eleven girls agreed, and 6 strongly agreed. Six girls disagreed and none strongly disagreed. This shows that the majority of both girls and boys found the gender-alike groups beneficial. For the boys in the class, this is a change from the responses on the peer evaluation of the initial gender-alike grouping. It seems that as the boys stayed in the gender-alike groups longer, they found more benefits to it. The focus group aligned with the class as a whole on this question. Five focus group students agreed (3 boys, 2 girls), and 1 female focus group student strongly agreed. One male focus group student strongly disagreed, and one female focus group student disagreed. Most of the students who agreed that gender-alike groups helped said that they felt more comfortable sharing their ideas in gender-alike groups: x “We are all used to being around gender-alike people and it made it easier to talk to each other.” Antonio x “It’s easier to talk to everyone.” Viviana x “I think that boys understand boys better and girls understand girls.” Jacob x “We had more answers and we weren’t scared to say what we wanted to say.” Aura x “When it’s your own gender it’s easier to talk.” Nixie x “It was easier to talk to the group.” Jerel x “It helped because I know the girls in the group and it’s easier to talk to girls than boys.” Diamond
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Most of the students that didn’t think the gender-alike groupings helped seemed to be more easily distracted by their same-gender group members: x “I don’t think it’s good because all we did in our gender-alike group was talk about stuff that is not part of the lesson.” Ranializa x “Girls just talk about girl things and drama and it takes you off task a lot.” Kristal x “Sometimes we didn’t talk about the article.” Enrique When asked if the peer evaluations helped in the group discussion, a majority of students (16) agreed, while 11 disagreed. Five students strongly disagreed and three students strongly agreed. The students in the focus group aligned with the class – 5 focus group students agreed, 2 focus group students disagreed, and one focus group student strongly disagreed. Most of the students who said the peer evaluation helped stated that they made everyone accountable, helped students know what they need to improve, and helped students give more effort: x x x x x x
“It helped because people who don’t work don’t deserve good grades.” Phuong “They helped because when you gave someone a bad grade they would work harder the next time we had to do group work.” Ranializa “It helped people know how they were doing and what they could improve.” Aura “I think it helps because it keeps us focused and on track.” Aaron “I think they helped because it showed you how to be a better group member.” Adryan “It made us actually want to try in the groups.” Josh
Most of the students who did not think the peer evaluations helped in group discussions said that people either don’t care about their grade, or that people do not put a lot of thought into the grades they give their peers: x x x x
“Not many people care about their score.” Jonathan F. “People just put numbers on the paper.” Jenny L. “No one was fair on the peer evaluation, they just graded.” Kristal “It didn’t help because people would lie.” Alex T. The final question asked on the post-study survey was, “If you were the teacher of this
class, how would you organize groups in order to make everyone participate, talk to each other, and learn effectively? Please explain!” Many students wanted to be placed in groups with their
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friends, while some wanted to use the strategies presented in the study. Here are some of the most thoughtful answers: x x x x x x x x
“Put everyone with their friends.” Viviana “I would pick groups randomly and I would definitely use your strategies like roles and accountable talk strategies.” Ranializa “I would let them discuss the questions first and then answer them later like you do [with the 5 minutes of discussion only].” Joseph “I would let the students choose groups, and if there is a problem I would move them.” Aaron “I would let friends work with friends and then when they got used to working with groups I would put people into new groups.” Josh “I would do gender-alike because we wouldn’t get off task.” Chelsea “I would let the kids organize the groups because it’s much easier to talk when you’re around your friends.” Alex T. “I would let them pick their group because if they work with people they pick they would be more talkative and more helpful because they feel really comfortable.” Jenny V.
These answers reveal that some of the students saw the benefits to and liked the strategies used during the study. Another important take-away from these answers is that there is a certain comfort level when students are placed in a group with their friends. Especially for a class like this, that is new to cooperative learning, this may be an important thing to remember in order to achieve optimal participation and meaningful discourse. Results Data Summary The data collected across Phase 1 clearly shows that meaningful discourse and participation increased when the students were given specific interaction instructions in their cooperative learning groups. As you can see from Summary Graph 1 and 2 below, both of the mixed gender focus groups substantially increased positive talk when assigned group roles and accountable talk strategies. In the initial recording, both focus groups engaged in higher levels of negative talk than positive talk. The initial grouping, with no interaction instructions, also
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resulted in the lowest amount of overall talk in Phase 1, pointing to a lack of discussion and cooperation. When the students were moved into gender-alike cooperative groups in Phase 2, the results were slightly different. The students, especially the girls, did not need interaction instructions in the gender-alike groups to maintain high levels of meaningful discourse and participation. This is shown clearly in Summary Graph 4. The data also suggests that genderalike groups substantially decreased, and even eliminated, negative, or off task, talk for the allgirl group. Summary Graph 4 shows an absence of negative talk in the first two iterations of Phase 2. We can also conclude that the accountable talk strategies were not successful in increasing meaningful discourse and participation in the gender-alike groups. Summary Graphs 3 and 4 show that both the boy and girl groups engaged in more negative talk than positive talk when using the accountable talk strategies. The accountable talk strategies also yielded the lowest amount of overall talk during Phase 2. Data from the post-study survey also points to the fact that the majority of boys and girls prefer working in gender-alike groups over mixed-gender cooperative groups. Summary Graph Summary Graphs 1 and 2 show the results of the audio recordings for focus Group 1 and Group 2 during Phase 1 of the research study. The blue indicates the amount of positive, or meaningful, talk in seconds during minutes 2-7 of three different grouping styles. The red indicates the amount of negative, or off task, talk.
1 n xgxg
Summary Graph 1 Group 1, Mixed Gender Groups
C p rxv
Summary Graph 2 Group 2, Mixed Gender Groups
Summary Graphs 3 and 4 show the results of the audio recordings for the Male and Female focus groups during Phase 2 of the research study. Again, the blue indicates the amount of positive talk in seconds during minutes 2-7, while the red indicates the amount of negative talk. Summary Graph 3 Male Group, Gender-Alike Groups
Summary Graph 4 Female Group, Gender-Alike Groups
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Analysis and Discussion Findings Although the data does not conclusively point to one grouping strategy to maximize meaningful and equitable student-to-student discourse in cooperative learning groups, this study does point to some important findings. These findings will be discussed in detail below. Organizing Cooperative Learning Groups One important finding of this study is the difference in meaningful student-to-student discourse and equitable participation when there was an absence of group expectations provided by the teacher. Students in mixed gender cooperative learning groups were not able to produce meaningful student-to-student discourse or equitable participation when no interaction instructions were given, and when the assignment did not require joint participation and offer interaction incentives. As evidenced in Summary Graphs 1 and 2 above, Group 1 only produced 2 minutes and 5 seconds of talk during a 5 minute period when not given interaction instructions. Of that 2 minutes and 5 seconds, the majority, 1 minute and 35 seconds, was off-task, negative talk. A note from my research journal quoted earlier corroborates the data from the audio recording. I noted that very few groups talked to each other at all, and that the class was extremely quiet in general. Previous research shows that students are not likely to interact in a cooperative group when not given appropriate incentives. I touched on these ideas in my research journal: Many students ended up working alone or copying info from their neighbors. There was really no incentive to work together. This shows we can’t just throw students in groups and expect them to interact.
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The Role of Gender in Meaningful Discourse and Equitable Participation Another finding of this study is the role that gender plays in producing meaningful discourse and equitable participation in cooperative learning groups. The data from the audio recordings show that for both boys and girls, negative talk was decreased in gender-alike groups. The Male Group had a total of 50 seconds of negative talk across three interventions, while the Female Group only had a total of 28 seconds. This is a clear improvement over the mixed gender groups in which Group 1 had a total of 2 minutes and 1 second of negative talk across three interventions, and Group 2 had a total of 1 minute and 45 seconds of negative talk. As shown in Summary Graph 4, negative talk was especially limited for the Female Group that did not engage in any negative talk during the first and second interventions of Phase 2. The impact of single gender arrangements on student to student interactions has significant implications for teaching and learning. On the first day of Phase 2, the first gender-alike groupings, my research journal reflected a similar observation. I noted that it was the best grouping, and the students demonstrated the most participation and on task behavior in their gender-alike groups. The post-study survey contributes to this finding. Seventy percent of girls in the class and 74% of boys said that the gender-alike groups helped in their group discussion. This is a clear majority of both boys and girls. As stated before, the reason most often stated for why the gender-alike groups helped was that students felt more comfortable sharing their ideas and could discuss things more easily. Significance The first key finding of my study supports researchers Smagorinsky and Fly (1994), who say that cooperative learning groups will not be successful unless they are carefully monitored by
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teachers. The mixed gender groups produced little positive talk or participation when no interaction instructions were given. This data also supports Johnson and Johnson (1999) and their five essential elements for making cooperative group learning successful. The students were not given positive interdependence, a group design that fostered social skills or promotive (encouraging, supportive) interaction, or an opportunity for group processing (reflection). The only element present was individual accountability, an element which is present in individual work. Without incentives to work together, most of the students chose to work by themselves. This is very important information for teachers that wish to use cooperative learning groups in their classrooms. We cannot expect students to interact simply because they are sitting in a group configuration. Many students, especially those taught in traditional classrooms, have little experience working with their peers and may not feel comfortable doing so. Without incentive to work together, they will defer to working individually. When I introduced the five essential elements of cooperative group learning suggested by Johnson and Johnson, I noticed an increase in student interaction. My students had to work together for a grade (I only collected 1 worksheet from each group, pushing students to work together to find the best possible answer), they were given opportunities to develop social skills and support each other (through the group roles and accountable talk strategies), they were held individually accountable (through the peer evaluations), and they participated in group processing (reflecting on what went well and what could go better on the peer evaluation forms). As evidenced in Summary Graphs 1 and 2 above, these incentives to work together played a role in increased meaningful discourse and equitable participation in Phase 1 of the research study. The second finding of my action research study regarding the effect of gender groupings on meaningful discourse and equitable participation builds on Streitmatter’s (1997) research that
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found that girls take more academic risks, speak out, and ask more questions in single-gender classrooms. My finding builds on Streitmatter’s work, and suggests that both girls and boys may be more willing to share ideas and participate meaningfully in single-gender classrooms. Girl and boys responded to feeling better about sharing their ideas and being able to communicate easier when in the gender-alike groups. This finding could support the argument for the benefits of single-gender classrooms and schools, although clearly more research is called for. However, I think this finding suggests another important implication for teachers. Most of us do not teach in single-gender classrooms or schools. The question we must answer becomes, how do we foster a positive classroom environment where boys and girls feel equally comfortable to participate and discuss their ideas? While single-gender classrooms could provide immediate benefits for both boys and girls, I wonder if it doesn’t do them an injustice in the long run. Males and females will be forced to interact in public schools and in the workplace, and it is important that we as teachers give them the social skills and confidence that comes with them to be able to effectively communicate to each other in a non-threatening environment. The sooner we can teach our students how to do that, the more prepared they will be for their futures. This idea can be expanded to teaching students to interact with people that they are “different” from ethnically, culturally, and socially. Limitations There are some clear limitations to this action research study. This study took place in an 8th grade classroom in Mira Mesa, California. As teachers, we know that all schools and all classrooms have unique student populations and different classroom and social norms and tendencies. The results of this study are focused on the outcomes from one specific class, and
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though they are not generalizable to other classrooms, the data offers implications for teaching in classrooms with similar contexts. Another limitation of this study is that the lessons for each of the intervention iterations changed based on both content and assignment demands. Some assignments required reading a lot of text, some required more writing, some required the analysis of images, etc. Depending on the abilities of the students in each cooperative group, the difficulty level of each assignment could have influenced students’ abilities to contribute meaningfully to a conversation or participate fully. Similarly, some of the assignments could have been more interesting or appealing to students, which would naturally create more positive talk and participation. Finally, the amount of prior knowledge and understanding the students had about each of the assignment topics also could have affected data outcomes. As stated before, this particular class had little to no experience in cooperative learning groups before this study began. A class with more familiarity and a higher comfort level working in such groups would potentially yield a different set of data. The students in my study had to learn not only the content of each assignment, the demands of the specific grouping strategy employed (either the duties of their roles or the accountable talk strategies), but additionally, discover norms and practices of working in groups. Students with more practice in group work would not be hindered by this additional task. Additionally, the students in the focus group were “singled out” because small audio recorders were placed in the center of their tables during each of the group discussions. Although I tried to ease their fears of being recorded by letting them know they would not be graded based on the recordings, and that I would not even be listening to the full length of the conversations, both groups showed signs of being distracted by the audio recorders throughout
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the study. Focus group students tried to cover the audio recorders with pieces of paper, or place backpacks in front of the speakers, and could often be heard drumming next to or tapping on the audio recorders. The very fact that their discussions were recorded could have had an effect on the level of participation among some or all students in the focus groups. Finally, the timing of this study could have affected the quality of data. It is difficult to keep students at the end of their eighth grade year engaged and interested in their learning. In many cases, they have mentally already moved on to high school making it hard to reach them. This study took place during the last two months of school. After feeling slightly disappointed by the outcome of the gender-alike group role intervention, I noted in my research journal: I think part of what is going on is that these students are 8th graders and it is mid-May. They are getting close to the end of school and it is hard to engage them in anything right now. Additionally, the students were involved in statewide STAR standardized testing in the middle of the study, from April 27 through May 7. Mental fatigue from testing in the morning followed by a full class schedule could have had an effect on the data. Implications The findings and data from my research will definitely influence my future teaching. I will establish and teach cooperative group norms that will be in place for the entire school year. This will allow proper scaffolding, comfort level, and understanding for my students every time they work in a cooperative group. I will design group assignments carefully to include the essential elements of grouping, and provide clear and enticing incentives to work together. I will also allow the students to learn in a variety of cooperative groupings – some gender-alike, some mixed gender, some teacher chosen, some student chosen. I will ensure that when requiring the use of group roles or accountable talk strategies the students will have ample time to learn,
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practice, and become accustomed to the mandatory strategies. There will also be substantial discussion over the benefits of each of the strategies I employ in the cooperative groups, to aid in student buy-in and cooperation. My research has some implications for instructional practice among all teachers, and teachers interested in engaging their students in cooperative group learning could gain valuable information from this study. As discussed earlier, teachers cannot expect that putting students in groups means they will work together cooperatively. Students must be given specific interaction instructions and incentives for working together to make cooperative learning successful. This study also suggests that some instructional methods, such as cooperative group learning, could be more effective when students are separated by gender. While this research does not advocate for single-gender classrooms, it does suggest that there are some benefits to breaking students up by gender when using certain teaching strategies. This research also has some implications for school-wide and district level policy. As mentioned above, this research shows benefits to gender separation in classrooms in some instances. This finding suggests the potential benefit of increasing collaboration among teachers at individual schools. Such collaboration could allow one teacher to take all female students from two classes when deemed necessary, and the other teacher to take all male students. This research adds to the many existing benefits of teacher collaboration by providing for a separation of gender when using certain teaching strategies or when trying to improve certain skills. There are a few important additional research questions that have arisen from this study. The first would be a project studying how best to teach grouping strategies, including group roles and accountable talk strategies, to garner the highest level of student understanding and usage.
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Although this and other studies speak to the benefits and drawbacks of using such strategies, no research looks at how we can best prepare out students to use them successfully. Another question from this research is specific to accountable talk strategies. The data from the audio recordings and observations from my research journal point to the failure of accountable talk strategies to produce meaningful discourse and equitable participation. However, in the post-study survey, more students thought the accountable talk strategies helped in discussion more that either the group roles or the peer evaluation forms. The only thing that more students preferred was the gender-alike groupings. This was a definite surprise for me, as I assumed the students did not understand the accountable talk strategies well, and therefore were not using them. It seems some students found a benefit to them. A research study that focuses solely on accountable talk strategies, the way they can be scaffolded in classroom use, and their true benefits would be interesting to consider. Accountable talk strategies have the potential to be very effective but are very hard to learn well enough to be able to use them efficiently and effectively. A future study would need to engage students in extensive modeling and whole class use of the strategies. Conclusion Engaging in this study was a new experience for me. I have never considered myself to be very scientific-minded or research-focused. I came into the project worried that I would not be able to design an effective project, not be able to interpret data, and not be able to balance the role of teacher and researcher. I soon realized, however, that action research is simply a more formal and documented version of what good teachers do every day – carefully evaluate their students and practices with the goal of improving their teaching and helping students learn most effectively.
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A real success for me during this research project was reviewing the literature on cooperative group learning. Cooperative groups are becoming common-place in classrooms around the country, but they are often implemented without much thought or instruction from the teacher. Through my literature review, I learned some important factors of group learning that I included in my research study and will continue to involve throughout my career. Such things include providing incentive to work together as a group (through peer evaluations, for example), individual rewards for work and effort, positive group interaction, social skills, and reflection of the group process (Johnson & Johnson, 1999). I found these elements to be important in the groupings I set up and tried to incorporate them throughout the study. I was able to see a direct benefit of incorporating existing research into my practice, and this research study helped me realize the benefits practitioners can gain from researchers. Another success for me was being able to change the classroom dynamic. As a student teacher, I came into a class that was heavily teacher-led with little opportunity for students to talk to each other about their ideas and learning. Although I tried to make subtle changes to this structure throughout my time with the class, I was hesitant to make any substantial changes to the way the class was run. It was not until this research project that I fully put my trust in the students and tried something completely different. I was worried that they may not be able to handle extended amounts of group work, or worse, that they would not learn effectively through group work. However, the students were able to successfully do both those things, with my assistance and grouping designs. I felt proud to have really changed the way the classroom was run while still serving the academic needs of the students. A challenge for me was getting full buy-in from my students regarding the different grouping strategies. Although many used the group roles and accountable talk strategies, there
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were some students that commented both on the peer evaluation and the post-study survey that they did not try them. I blame myself for this lack of buy-in. If I could do this project again, I would spend more time truly teaching the strategies to the students, letting them practice them, and ensuring they understand not only how to use them, but why they are valuable in cooperative learning groups. I think many of the students either did not understand the roles and accountable talk strategies or did not see a benefit to them, and therefore were reluctant to try them. Another thing I would do differently if I engaged in a similar action research project is I would not plan out all my interventions before starting the study. I would try one intervention, see how it goes, and then design the next intervention to respond directly to the results. Although I am still happy with the interventions I performed, I did not have the freedom (partly due to time restrictions) to make many responsive changes during the study. It would have been interesting, for example, to try to have the students focus on only one accountable talk strategy at a time, or to allow students to choose their own groups and see how that goes. A more flexible research design would allow me to react to new and important learnings that arise unexpectedly during the course of the study. I have learned a few things about myself as a teacher. I have first learned that I really care about the opinions and feelings of the students in my class. I was fascinated to see their comments on both the peer-evaluations and the surveys regarding each of the interventions. I would like to incorporate more student feedback in my own class next year. I also learned that I need to carefully consider the demands I am placing on my students. I should have recognized that the accountable talk strategies were probably a little too complicated to teach to my 8th grade students all at once. It is sometimes hard to truly evaluate the difficulty level of certain things
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when they are so clear and understandable to me. Although I always want to challenge my students, it is important that they are given appropriate tasks. As a researcher I learned that I am capable of designing, implementing, and analyzing an action research project. Knowing that I am not only capable of this, but that it is also relatively simple in the end will definitely push me to perform more action research projects in the future. I also learned that, for my own sanity, I need to be very organized in my research design. I felt very uncomfortable with this research project until everything came together and I knew the main direction I was headed. Finally, I learned that it is important to systematically review the data as it is being collected. I waited to analyze most my data until the study was over. Had I begun to analyze earlier, I could have reacted to patterns or problems that I saw and would maybe have more clear conclusions as a result. Through this project I really learned the benefit of action research. I feel that I am now much more knowledgeable about cooperative group learning and will be able to more effectively implement it in my own classroom. Although I do not foresee myself performing another study quite as formally as this in the near future, it is something I would like to participate in once a year. I envision myself collaborating with another teacher to design a project, implement it, and compare results and findings. I think there are so many strengths in involving teachers in this sort of research. It is one thing to read an academic article, but quite another thing to try out a new strategy in your own classroom. Engaging in research ensures that teachers are constantly working to improve their techniques and build towards best practices. If teachers are feeling overwhelmed with their day-to-day duties as teachers, I do not advise them to add action research on top of that. But, if comfortable with their responsibilities, I highly recommend action research as a way to benefit both yourself as a teacher and your students as learners.
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Discussion leader x Starts the discussion, introduces new topics/questions, and keeps group members on task x Ensures the group finishes discussion and task in allotted time Typical phrases: “Today we have to get A, B, and C done. Let’s start with A.” “I think we have answered A completely. Let’s move on to B.” “We only have 5 minutes left, we should probably wrap this up.” “I’m not sure that has to do with our topic, let’s look at the question again.” Encourager x Ensures all group members have a chance to participate and learn x Encourages reluctant students to participate x Motivates, encourages, and praises group Typical phrases: “We haven’t heard what you have to say, Susie. Do you have any ideas?” “Thanks for your high level of participation, John, but let’s hear what the other group members have to say.” “We are working together really well as a group, and everyone is fulfilling their roles nicely.” Summarizer x Summarizes the discussion and progress at various points during group work x Ensures everyone understands and is on the “same page” Typical phrases: “So far the main things we have discussed are A and B, but we have not yet touched on C.” “Wow, class is almost over. Let’s talk about what we accomplished today.” Devil’s advocate x Ensures that all arguments have been heard x Suggests consideration for opposing viewpoints and ideas Typical phrases “That is a good point, but have you considered this (the opposite)?” “Even though we all don’t agree with Mary’s point right now, we should consider it.”
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Accountable Talk Strategies 1. Linking Linking is the act of connecting the ideas of two people together. Linking shows how ideas relate, agree or disagree, and build on each other. Typical phrases: “John’s ideas relate to Mary’s because they are both about how the type of document relates to the content.” “John and Mary agree on A, but seem to disagree on B.” “John says the author might be lying. I agree, and I think the author is lying because he is trying to persuade the audience to do what he wants.” 2. Revoicing Revoicing is the act of rephrasing what the person who spoke before you said. This ensures that you are listening carefully, allows you to build on each others’ ideas, and allows the first speaker to re-‐clarify their point. Typical phrases: John: “I think the word “abolish” in this line means to ‘get rid of’.” Mary: “John thinks abolish means to get rid of. I agree, and I think it means to get rid of slavery in particular.” Mary: “I disagree with you because this document is a letter so the person was writing it directly to someone.” John: “Mary disagrees because the document is a letter, but even if you are writing specifically to someone you still might expect others to read it.” 3. Productive questioning Productive questioning allows the group to think more critically. These questions ask group members to analyze, evaluate, and apply their knowledge. Typical phrases: “How might this idea relate to our lives today?” “Why do you think it is important to learn about this?” “Whose opinion do you think is the best? Why?” “How is idea A different than idea B?” “How does this relate to something we have already learned?” “When could we use this information in the future?”
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Appendix C PRE-‐STUDY SURVEY *Directions: Circle the number that corresponds with your answer. Please answer the questions honestly. You will not be graded or judged on your answers. Please explain your answers thoroughly in the lines provided (this means more than 1 sentence!).
1. I like working in groups. 1
What is your favorite thing about working in groups? What is your least favorite thing about working in groups?
2. When in a group, I normally participate as much as the other members of my group. 1
Why do/don’t you participate? What does it mean to you to participate?
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Appendix C continued 3. When in a group, I feel comfortable sharing ideas in a discussion. 1
Why do you feel comfortable sharing? – OR – Why don’t you feel comfortable sharing?
4. When in a group, I feel like the other group members listen to what I have to say. 1
How do you know group members are/are not listening to you? What things does someone do when they are listening to someone else?
5. When in a group, I try to help the other people in my group understand the material and do well on the assignment. 1
What kinds of things do you do to help group members? – OR – What could someone in a group do that would be helpful to you?
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Appendix D POST-‐STUDY SURVEY *Directions: Circle the number that corresponds with your answer. Please answer the questions honestly. You will not be graded or judged on your answers, but you must answer all the questions for a grade. Please explain your answers thoroughly in the lines provided (this means more than 1 sentence!).
1. I like working in groups. 1
What makes a group successful? What things help you to participate and discuss in a group? What makes a group unsuccessful? What things prevent you from participating and discussing in groups?
2. The group roles helped in the group discussions. 1
Why do/don’t you think group roles helped?
3. The accountable talk strategies helped in the group discussions. 1
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Appendix D continued Why do/don’t you think the accountable talk strategies helped?
4. The gender-‐alike groups helped in the group discussions. 1
Why do/don’t you think the gender-‐alike groupings helped?
5. The peer evaluations helped in the group discussions. 1
Why do/don’t you think the peer evaluations helped?
6. If you were the teacher of this class, how would you organize groups in order to make everyone participate, talk to each other, and learn effectively? Please explain!
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Appendix E Transcription Guide I will transcribe 5 minutes of each of the preselected groups’ discussions. The time frame transcribed will be the same for both groups. For example, in a 20 minute conversation I will listen to minutes 7-‐12 of both groups’ conversations. Each contribution will be assigned a point value (either +1 or -‐1). The points will be added to determine amount of meaningful discourse. Talk that does not fit into one of the below categories will receive no points. Additionally, each time every member of the group speaks once, they will get +1 point. Points will be added to determine the level of meaning and equity in participation. Name of speaker Gender of speaker Length of talk Contribution type
Possible positive talk contributions (+1 point): x Introduces new topic x Attempts to get group on task x Makes group members aware of time constraints x Invites group member to participate x Praises group or individual member x Summarizes the discussion x Ensures group understanding x Suggests opposing viewpoint or idea x Links x Revoices x Asks a productive question x Makes a connection to prior knowledge or lessons x Advances the understanding of content Possible negative talk contributions (-‐1 point) x Engages in off topic talk x Interrupts group member x Puts group member or idea down
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Appendix F Group Evaluation Form You will evaluate both yourself and your peers on the level and quality of participation during today’s group work. You will score each member of the group from 1-‐4. Score explanations are as follows: 1-‐ Group member did not participate. Group member did not listen. Group member distracted the group and engaged in off-‐task behavior. Group member made it hard to learn and accomplish today’s task. [Group member did not perform their role. Group member did not try any accountable talk strategies.] 2-‐ Group member participated a little. Group member listened sometimes. [Group member performed their role sometimes. Group member tried an accountable talk strategy once.] 3-‐ Group member participated most of the time. Group member listened well. [Group member performed their role most of the time. Group member tried an accountable talk strategy two or three times.] 4-‐ Group member consistently participated and listened. Group member helped other group members to understand and encouraged all to participate. [Group member carried out all the duties of their role. Group member tried an accountable talk strategy four or more times.] * Items in brackets will be added depending on the intervention that took place that day. Name Score
1. What went well today in the group? What did you like? 2. What did not go well today in the group? What didn’t you like? 3. How could you improve the group next time?
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Appendix G (continued on pages 67-74) April 16, 2009 AR Lesson 1 Context: This lesson is part of the unit on new movements in America during the early to mid 1800’s. The students have just learned about reform movements that developed from the Second Great Awakening, including the temperance movement, prison reform, and education reform. After this lesson they will be learning about the women’s movement. This lesson will be the first time the students will be working in the assigned groups of four that they will remain in for the next few months. This lesson also serves as a pre-‐study evaluation for my action research project. I will be using audio recorders to record two pre-‐selected groups of students who I will follow closely throughout the project. This lesson will serve two purposes: 1) allow me to judge the effectiveness (sound quality, etc.) of the audio recorders and 2) gather initial group participation information on the pre-‐selected students to use as data prior to any research interventions. Content Standard: [History Standard 8.9 “Students analyze the early and steady attempts to abolish slavery and to realize the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.”] History Standard 8.9.1 “Describe the leaders of the movement (e.g., John Quincy Adams and his proposed constitutional amendment, John Brown and the armed resistance, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Weld, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass).” Instructional Objective: Students will become familiar with four leaders of the abolitionist movement, their views on slavery, and the actions they took. They will also critically consider the risks and moral factors white Americans in the early 1800’s faced by considering if they would become an abolitionist or not. Finally, they will become comfortable with their newly formed groups, and practice group interaction (discussion, listening, etc.). Theoretical Foundation: This lesson is constructivist in nature and allows students to discover and process information for themselves. Through the reading of the handouts and the use of the graphic organizer, they will construct knowledge of important abolitionist leaders and their views and actions. This lesson also utilizes cooperative grouping where students are encouraged to participate in student-‐to-‐student academic discourse. This discourse will allow students to increase their zone of proximal development through interaction with group members of varying abilities. Evidence of Understanding/Assessment: Formative assessments – x Group discussions x Group participation Summative Assessment – x Graphic organizers x Short paragraph
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Tomorrow’s large group share-‐out Learning Experiences: Introduction: Remind students of what was learned yesterday. “Remember that yesterday we learned about ways that Americans wanted to reform society in the early 1800’s. Please raise your hand and tell me: What were some of the things reformers focused on (temperance, prisons, education)? Today we are going to see how this same attitude of reform was applied to slavery.” Instructional Activities: 1) Brief overview: Teacher will briefly provide the students background information and define terms “abolitionist” and “Underground Railroad”. 2) Explain assignment: Teacher will explain today’s assignment and pass out needed materials. 3) Present groups: Teacher will present the class’ new groups on the document camera. She will direct each group where in the room to go, and review expectations for group organization (all sitting facing each other, etc). Students will be reminded that a few groups will be recorded for the purpose of the action research project. 4) Group work time: Students will complete the assignment in their groups. Each student must turn in their own graphic organizer. 5) Large group share-‐out: Students will assist me in completing a graphic organizer on the overhead by explaining their answers. They will also be encouraged to read their answers to the wrap up question. [This activity will most likely take place tomorrow due to time constraints] Differentiation and Academic Language: x Academic language: This lesson introduces students to the necessary academic language at the beginning, in the brief overview. Other language needs from the handouts will be supported by group discussion and members of varying ability levels, and the teacher as necessary. The graphic organizer will help students clearly organize the information they read in the text and solidify their ideas and understanding. The graphic organizer will also scaffold students to answer the wrap up question. x Differentiation: This lesson is interactive and will engage all students. Students will be placed in mixed ability groups, allowing struggling students to benefit from their higher performing peers. The wrap up question allows students to display understanding at their own level and ability. Instructional Materials: x Graphic organizer x 4 handouts (per group) x Audio recorders x Document camera x Group assignment sheet
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Frederick Douglass was an African American whose brilliant speaking and writing made him one of the leading abolitionists. Enslaved until he was 21, Douglass worked as a plantation slave and house servant in Maryland. After one failed attempt, Douglass escaped to Massachusetts and got away from slavehunters by changing his name from Bailey to Douglass. Douglass became an important abolitionist after he was invited to an anti-‐slavery convention in 1841. He demonstrated his powerful speaking style by telling an audience about his feelings and experiences under slavery. Afterwards, despite heckling, insults, and violent personal attack, he continued to speak about the cruelty of slavery. Douglass once said, “Slavery is wicked – wicked in that it violates the great law of liberty…slavery is alike the sin and the shame of the American people.” Douglass used the money he made for giving lectures to help runaway slaves. In 1845, Douglass wrote his autobiography (life story), which thoroughly described slavery from a slave’s point of view. From 1847 to 1860, Douglass published his own anti-‐slavery newspaper, the North Star. As a consultant to President Lincoln during the Civil War, Douglass urged Lincoln to allow former slaves to fight for the North.
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Harriet Tubman became a leading abolitionist after escaping from slavery on a Maryland plantation in 1849. She escaped to the North by the “Underground Railroad,” which is neither a railroad nor underground. The Underground Railroad was a secret network of about 3,000 people organized to hide and help escaped slaves. Under the cover of darkness, “conductors” led runaways to freedom, providing food and safe hiding places. After her escape, Tubman devoted her energy to helping other slaves escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Once she escaped slavery, she promised to help others by saying, “To this solemn resolution I came; I was free, and other slaves should be free also; I would make a home for them in the North, and the Lord helping me, I would bring them all here.” Known as the “Moses of her people,” Tubman demonstrated extraordinary courage and endurance by helping more than 300 slaves to freedom. She was known for maintaining strict discipline among her followers, often forcing the tired or scared to continue northward by threatening them with a loaded gun. John Brown, another leading abolitionist, referred to Tubman as “one of the best and bravest persons on this continent – General Tubman as we call her.”
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The Grimke Sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimke were the only Southern women to become abolitionist leaders. The Grimkes were the daughters of Judge John Faucheraud Grimke of South Carolina, a distinguished judge, planter, and slaveowner. Shocked by what they saw of slavery, they moved to the North and became active in the abolitionist movement. Both Sarah and Angelina wrote pamphlets in 1836 encouraging Southern women to stop slavery using “moral suasion,” which meant persuading people that slavery was morally wrong. Their anti-‐slavery pamphlets were praised by abolitionists, but were hated in the South. In fact, South Carolina officials burned the pamphlets and threatened to jail the sisters if they ever returned to their home state. At the same time, the Grimke sisters demonstrated their distaste for slavery by freeing slaves that their mother had given them. Both sisters became traveling lecturers of the American Anti-‐ Slavery Society. They became among the first women to speak to mixed audiences (made up of both men and women). They were harshly criticized by some who considered this “unladylike,” but they continued to speak out anyway. “My idea,” wrote Angelina, “is that whatever is morally right for a man to do is morally right for a woman to do.”
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William Lloyd Garrison
William Lloyd Garrison was one of the most famous abolitionists in the 19th century. From 1831 to 1865, he published the anti-‐slavery newspaper The Liberator, and he helped lead the successful movement to abolish slavery. Garrison joined the anti-‐slavery movement in Boston when he was 25, and 3 years later helped found the American Anti-‐ Slavery Society. The Liberator was the most outspoken anti-‐slavery publication of its time. Garrison demanded an immediate, no-‐compromise end to slavery. In The Liberator’s first issue, Garrison wrote, “I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice…I will not retreat a single inch. And I WILL BE HEARD!” Garrison blamed everyone who tolerated slavery for its existence. He once publicly set fire to the Constitution because it did not outlaw slavery and labeled the Constitution as an “agreement with Hell.” In addition, he urged Northern states to secede from, or leave, the United States under his principle of “No Union with Slaveholders.” Not surprisingly, Garrison was hated in the South and considered by many in the North to be too radical in his beliefs. Nevertheless, he continued his abolitionist work until slaves were freed after the Civil War.
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Understanding Perspectives on Slavery Directions: Read each of the four handouts together with your group. Each handout shows a different person’s viewpoint on slavery. Analyze the handout carefully and then record the person’s name, view on slavery, and actions taken to support that view in the chart below. Person
Three Details of Person’s View on Slavery 1.
Actions Person Took to Support Viewpoint
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**As a wrap up to this activity please write a short paragraph (4 sentences at least) answering the following question in the space below: If you were a white person in the 1800’s, would you become an abolitionist, speak out against slavery, and/or try to help slaves gain freedom? Why or why not? Discuss this question with your group for a few minutes before writing. Things to think about: What were some dangers white abolitionists faced? Why would you want to be an abolitionist? Why wouldn’t you want to be an abolitionist? How much help would you be willing to give? What specific actions would you take?
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Appendix H (continued on pages 75-78) May 1, 2009 AR Lesson 2
Context: This lesson is part of the unit on the Civil War. The students have recently learned about the growing tensions between the North and the South that ultimately led to secession of many southern states. After this lesson they will be exploring the Civil War further, learning about important battles, life during the war, and results of the war. This lesson also serves as one of the interventions for my action research project. I will be assigning each group member a discussion role today that they must carry out in mixed gender cooperative groups. After this lesson students will be filling out a peer evaluation form that also asks them about their impression of the group roles. Content Standard: History Standard 8.10.2 “Trace the boundaries constituting the North and the South, the geographical differences between the two regions, and the differences between agrarians and industrialists.” Instructional Objective: Students will identify specific geographical, economic, societal, and cultural features of the North and the South. They will consider which of these factors served as advantages and disadvantages to each region. Finally, they will become familiar with and assume group discussion roles aimed to improve participation and meaningful student discourse. Theoretical Foundation: This lesson builds strongly on the theory of the zone of proximal development, in which students will learn more through interaction with peers. As the students discuss and consider multiple perspectives they will stretch their thinking and grow their understanding. This lesson builds on the prior knowledge students have been learning for the last couple of weeks about all the differences between the North and the South in the mid 1800’s. This lesson also uses a common practice in cooperative grouping, discussion roles, aimed to improve participation and meaningful student discourse. Evidence of Understanding/Assessment: Formative assessments – x Group discussions x Group participation Summative Assessment – x Written answers to questions x Peer evaluation forms Learning Experiences: Introduction: Reminder of where we left off on Monday. [The Civil War was started at Fort Sumter; states had to choose sides-‐ “patriots” or “traitors”] Today we are going to learn about some of the specific features of the North and the South, and you are going to consider how those features might be advantages or disadvantages to each region during the Civil War.
Examining Cooperative Learning 76 Instructional Activities: 1) Explain group roles: Teacher will pass out the Group Roles paper, and explain that each student has been assigned a role. Teacher will go over each of the roles, giving examples of things students in each role should say and do. [5 min] 2) Explain peer evaluation: Teacher will explain the peer evaluation that will take place at the end of class. Scores and grading process will be explained. Teacher will emphasize that there should be no pressuring peers to give a certain grade-‐ if you want the full points you need to demonstrate that by listening, participating, and performing the tasks of your role. [5 min] 3) Explain assignment: Teacher will go over the instructions and questions for the day’s assignment. Emphasis will be placed on the fact that the drawing of symbols should not take a lot of time (5 minutes at most-‐ this activity is meant to ensure that students read the graph carefully and understand the information presented). Teacher will also explain to students that for the first 5 minutes of discussion there is no writing allowed-‐ groups can only discuss. After 5 minutes is up, they will have 10 additional minutes to continue discussing and write down their answers. [5 min] 4) Begin symbol drawing: Students will begin to draw symbols for each of the features on the chart. After 5 minutes they will be told they need to move on to the next part of the assignment. [5 min] 5) Begin discussion: Students will begin the discussion. For the first 5 minutes they will not be allowed to write anything. [5 min] 6) Continue discussion and record answers: Students will be given 10 minutes in which they can finish their discussion and record their answers. After 10 minutes, the teacher will collect all the papers, but only one from each group will be graded, and that score will be given to all the members of the group. [10 min] 7) Peer evaluation: Students will complete the peer evaluation form. They will be instructed that there should be no talking during this time. [10 min] Differentiation and Academic Language: x Academic language: Language needs in this lesson will be supported by group discussion and members of varying ability levels, and the teacher as necessary. The graph on the worksheet helps students visually see the differences between the North and the South, and the requirement to draw a symbol for each feature allows visual learners and English language learners to understand and retain the information. x Differentiation: This lesson is interactive and will engage all students. Students will be placed in mixed ability groups, allowing struggling students to benefit from their higher performing peers. Instructional Materials: x Worksheets x Audio recorders x Document camera x Discussion roles handout x Peer evaluation form
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Comparing Features of the North and the South Directions: Read the chart below that lists features of both the North and the South. Draw a symbol in each box that will help you remember the information provided. Use this information to discuss different advantages that each region had during the Civil War. Feature
Climate and Geography
North South ͻtĂƌŵƐƵŵŵĞƌƐ͕ƐŶŽǁǇǁŝŶƚĞƌƐ ͻ,ŽƚƐƵŵŵĞƌƐ͕ŵŝůĚǁŝŶƚĞƌƐ͕ŚĞĂǀǇƌĂŝŶ ͻZŽĐŬǇ͕ŚŝůůǇůĂŶĚŶŽƚŐŽŽĚĨŽƌĨĂƌŵŝŶŐ ͻDĂŶǇǁŝĚĞ͕ƐůŽǁ-‐moving rivers that ͻDĂŶǇĨŽƌĞƐƚƐĨŽƌƚŝŵďĞƌ were easy to navigate ͻDĂŶǇďĂǇƐĂŶĚŝŶůĞƚƐŽŶƚŚĞƚůĂŶƚŝĐ ͻZŝĐŚ͕ĨĞƌƚŝůĞƐŽŝůĨŽƌĨĂƌŵŝŶŐ coast ͻZŝǀĞƌƐĨĂƐƚ͕ƐŚĂůůŽǁ͕ŚĂƌĚƚŽŶĂǀŝŐĂƚĞ ͻZĂƉŝĚƉŽƉƵůĂƚŝŽŶŐƌŽǁƚŚĨƌŽŵϭϴϬϬ-‐ ͻWŽƉƵůĂƚŝŽŶŽĨϭϮŵŝůůŝŽŶŝŶϭϴϲϬ 1860 ͻϯ͘ϱŵŝůůŝŽŶĞŶƐůĂǀĞĚƉĞŽƉůĞ ͻWŽƉƵůĂƚŝŽŶŽĨϯ1 million by 1860 ͻDŽƐƚŝŶ^ŽƵƚŚǁĞƌĞƐŵĂůůĨĂƌŵĞƌƐ ͻ/ƌŝƐŚ͕'ĞƌŵĂŶ͕ĂŶĚŽƚŚĞƌƵƌŽƉĞĂŶ ͻKŶůǇЬŽĨ^ŽƵƚŚĞƌŶĞƌƐŽǁŶĞĚƐůĂǀĞƐ settlers moved to the North ͻŝƚŝĞƐǁĞƌĞĐĞŶƚĞƌƐŽĨƚƌĂĚĞĂŶĚ ͻDŽƐƚƉĞŽƉůĞůŝǀĞĚƐƉƌĞĂĚŽƵƚŽŶƐŵĂůů manufacturing in factories farms ͻǇϭϴϱϬ͕ϭϱйŽĨƉĞŽƉůĞůŝǀĞĚŝŶĐŝƚŝĞƐ ͻKŶůǇĂĨĞǁůĂƌŐĞĐŝƚŝĞƐĚĞǀĞůŽƉĞĚ ͻ^ŵĂůůƚŽǁŶƐŐƌĞǁƵƉŽŶƌŝǀĞƌƐĂŶĚ coast ͻEŽƌƚŚĞƌŶĞĐŽŶŽŵǇǁĂƐďĂƐĞĚŽŶŵĂŶǇ ͻ^ŽƵƚŚĞƌŶĞĐŽŶŽŵǇǁĂƐŚĞĂǀŝůǇďĂƐĞĚ industries (shipping, textiles, lumber, furs, on agriculture mining) ͻĂƐŚĐƌŽƉƐǁĞƌĞĐŽƚƚŽŶ͕ƚŽďĂĐĐŽ͕ƌŝĐĞ͕ ͻĂƐĞĚŽŶŵĂŶƵĨĂĐƚƵƌŝŶŐ͕ŶŽƚĂŐƌŝĐƵůƚƵƌĞ sugar, and indigo ͻdŚĞEŽƌƚŚƚƌĂĚĞĚŵĂŶǇŐŽŽĚƐǁŝƚŚ ͻŐƌŝĐƵůƚƵƌĞƐƵƉƉŽƌƚĞd slave labor foreign countries ͻŽƚƚŽŶǁĂƐƚŚĞŵŽƐƚŝŵƉŽƌƚĂŶƚĐƌŽƉ ͻKƌŐĂŶŝǌĞĚƌĞůŝŐŝŽŶ ͻ>ĂƌŐĞƉůĂŶƚĂƚŝŽŶŽǁŶĞƌƐĐŽŶƚƌŽůůĞĚ ͻWƵďůŝĐĞĚƵĐĂƚŝŽŶ most of Southern society ͻKŶůǇďŽǇƐĨƌŽŵǁĞĂůƚŚǇĨĂŵŝůŝĞƐǁĞŶƚƚŽ ͻEĞŝƚŚĞƌƌĞůŝŐŝŽŶŽƌĞĚƵĐĂƚŝŽŶǁĂƐ college organized ͻMost Southerners, besides the very rich, had little to no education ͻϮϮ͕ϬϬϬŵŝůĞƐŽĨƌĂŝůƌŽĂĚƚƌĂĐŬƐ ͻϵ͕ϬϬϬŵŝůĞƐŽĨƌĂŝůƌŽĂĚƚƌĂĐŬƐ ͻĂŶĂůƐƉƌŽǀŝĚĞĐŚĞĂƉƚƌĂŶƐƉŽƌƚĂƚŝŽŶ ͻ^ƚĞĂŵďŽĂƚƐƵƐĞĚŽŶƌŝǀĞƌƐ ͻĞƚƚĞƌƌŽĂĚƐĚĞǀĞůŽƉĞĚ
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Together, as a group, answer the questions below based on the information in the chart and the group discussion. I will only collect a worksheet from one person in each group, so it is in your best interest to help each other out and discuss the best possible answers. It is okay to disagree, as long as you explain your answers and are willing to hear other peoples’ points of view. You will have approximately 15 minutes to discuss and complete the below questions. Don’t forget to perform the duties of your discussion role! 1. What are some of the main differences between the North and the South? 2. What advantages might the South have in the Civil War? What is the South’s greatest advantage? Why? 3. What advantages might the North have in the Civil War? What is the North’s greatest advantage? Why? 4. What disadvantages might the South have in the Civil War? What is the South’s greatest disadvantage? Why? 5. What disadvantages might the North have in the Civil War? What is the North’s greatest disadvantage? Why?
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Appendix I Directions: Discuss the following questions below. Be sure to use the accountable talk strategies you have just learned. *What were some of the important events leading up to the start of the Civil War? *What was the most important event? Why? Jill: Well, there were a lot of important events that led to the start of the Civil War. There was the Compromise of 1850, which upset the balance of free and slave states when California was added as a free state. That made the South angry. Grace: That kind of relates to an idea I had of something else that made the South mad. [linking] Remember the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”? It was all about how horrible slavery was, and I think that made the South just as mad. Jill: That’s true. So you think the most important event was the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” [revoicing] Grace: No. I think that was important, but probably not the most important event. I think the thing that really made the South want to secede from the Union was when Abraham Lincoln got elected. Jill: Oh, that’s a good point. I wonder if any President that has been elected during our lifetime ever made half of the country so upset? [productive questioning] Grace: Well, there was the election of 2000 when George W. Bush got elected even though Al Gore had more popular votes than he did. That made a lot of people angry. [linking] Jill: Good point! At least that election didn’t send the country into a war. So, I think we both agree that Lincoln’s election was the most important event leading to the Civil War. We have to explain why we think this was the most important. Grace: It was the most important because Lincoln only campaigned in the Northern states. Jill: Right. So, Lincoln only campaigned in the Northern states [revoicing], and this made the South feel like they had no political power or representation in the federal government [linking]. Grace: Exactly. And because they felt like they had no political power, they decided to secede from the United States and start their own government-‐ the Confederate States of America. [linking] Jill: How do you think this applies to our lives today? [productive questioning] Grace: Hmm. I think that it shows us that politicians really have to reach out to all kinds of people to get elected, and try to keep the entire country happy. Jill: Yeah, I agree that politicians have to pay attention to the whole country, not just a certain section [revoicing]. I also think learning about this gives us insight into ways different parts of the country are still very different today, and where some of those differences come from. [linking]
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Appendix J (continued on pages 80-87) May 8, 2009 AR Lesson 3 1. Review accountable talk strategies (make sure everyone has a paper) 2. Review peer evaluation (accountable talk strategies, new column-‐ explain why) 3. Remind them I am only collecting one from each group (this is only 2nd grade in new grade book) 4. Show packet on doc cam to explain assignment 5. Group work (only about 10 minutes per song-‐ 3 songs to get through) 6. Peer evaluation
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Lyrics to “Johnny is My Darling” Chorus: Johnny is my darling, my darling, my darling Johnny is my darling, the Union Volunteer. ‘Twas on a sunny morning, The brightest of the year, When Johnny came to my town, A Union Volunteer. (Chorus) As he came marching up the street, The bands played loud and clear; And everyone came out to greet The Union Volunteer. (Chorus) With proudly waving starry flags And hearts that knew no fear; He came to fight for Freedom’s rights, A Union Volunteer. (Chorus) But though he’s gone to glory win, And I left lonely here, He’ll soon return to me again As Cupid’s Volunteer.
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Lyrics to “Marching Song of the First Arkansas” Oh, we’re the bully soldiers of the “First of Arkansas” We are fighting for the Union, we are fighting for the law, We can hit the Rebel further than a white man ever saw, As we go marching on. Chorus: Glory, glory hallelujah, Glory, glory hallelujah, Glory, glory hallelujah, As we go marching on. We have done with hoeing cotton, we have done with hoeing corn, We are colored Yankee soldiers, now, as sure as you are born; When the masters hear us yelling, they’ll think it’s Gabriel’s horn, As we go marching on. (Chorus) Then fall in, colored brethren, you’d better do it soon, Don’t you hear the drum a-‐beating the Yankee doodle tune? We are with you now this morning, we’ll be far away at noon, As we go marching on. (Chorus)
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Lyrics to “Tenting Tonight” We’re tenting tonight on the old camp ground, Give us a song to cheer Our weary hearts, a song of home And friends we love so dear We’ve been tenting tonight on the old camp ground, Thinking of days gone by, Of the loved ones at home that gave us the band, And the tear that said, “Goodbye!” Chorus: Many are the hearts that are weary tonight, Wishing for the war to cease; Many are the hearts that are looking for the right To see the dawn of peace. Tenting tonight, tenting tonight, Tenting on the old camp ground, Tenting tonight, tenting tonight, Tenting on the old camp ground. We’ve been fighting tonight on the old camp ground, Many are lying near; Some are dead and some are dying, Many are in tears. We are tired of war on the old camp ground, Many are dead and gone, Of the brave and the true who’ve left their homes, Others been wounded long. (Chorus)
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“Johnny is My Darling” 1. What 3 words best describe the mood of this song? 2. If you were one of the soldiers in the picture, how would this song make you feel? 3. What do you think was the purpose of the song? “Marching Song for the First Arkansas” 1. What three words best describe the mood of this song? 2. What do you think was the purpose of the song? 3. What are some reasons African Americans might want to join the Union army? “Tenting Tonight” 1. What three words best describe the mood of this song? 2. How is this song different than the previous two songs? 3. What do you think the soldiers in the picture would say to the people who wrote the previous two songs?
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Appendix K (continued on pages 88-93) May 12, 2009 AR Lesson 4 1. Explain new groups-‐ As you can see you are in groups of all boys and all girls. Today you are going to be working in this group, but I am not going to say that you have to use roles or accountable talk strategies. You can organize it however you like. You will still be filling out group evaluations that will factor into your grade, and I will still be only collecting one worksheet per group (everyone in the group will receive the same grade). 2. Go over Emancipation Proclamation as a group-‐ answering the questions together using line numbers. (15 min) 3. Introduce 2 images by Thomas Nast-‐ one drawn right after emancipation and one drawn 2 years later. 4. Explain group procedure and go over group evaluation form. 5. Groups work together. 5 minutes of pure discussion, no writing. 10 more minutes to finish (15 min) 6. Fill out group evaluation forms. (10 min)
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The Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863 By the President of the United States of America: A Proclamation. Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit: "That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixtythree, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…” And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States [Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia], and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States… And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God… By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
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Emancipation Proclamation 1. Who is being emancipated (freed)? 2. When are the slaves being emancipated? 3. What does President Lincoln ask the newly freed slaves to do? 4. What does the Emancipation Proclamation say about the military? 5. What things does President Lincoln say support this decision?
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Directions: Together, as a group, discuss and answer the questions below using the two images by Thomas Nast. You must discuss without writing for 5 minutes. You will have about 15 minutes total to complete the questions. Image #1 1. What is being shown on the left side of the drawing? (be specific!) 2. What is being shown on the right side of the drawing? (be specific!) 3. According to the drawing, how will life be better for African Americans after they are emancipated? Image #2 1. What is being shown in this illustration? (be specific!) 2. How would Nast answer the question, “How has life changed for African Americans since emancipation?” (hint: look at the words included in the drawing) 3. From looking at this drawing, what can you predict will happen for African Americans in the years after emancipation?
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Appendix L (continued on pages 94-97) May 15, 2009 AR Lesson 5 1. Yesterday we learned about how the Civil War ended. Which side won? What was the very important battle that helped end the war? What other win for the Union occurred on that day? What was the name of the Union General who had his men destroy southern cities? Yesterday you guys answered a question about how you would feel if you lived in the South and your city and farm had been destroyed. Here are some interesting answers: (read them) 2. These were some of the same things people were feeling right after the Civil War. The time after the Civil War was called Reconstruction because the US had to figure out a way to reunite a country that had been totally divided. Many people had different opinions about how the South should be punished and how the freed slaves should be helped. 3. President Lincoln started making a plan even before the war ended – ƚŚĞϭϬйƉůĂŶ͘ -‐Southerners were officially pardoned if they swore an oath of loyalty to the US and agreed that slavery was illegal. -‐ϭϬйŽĨǀŽƚĞƌƐŝŶĂƐƚĂƚĞŚĂĚƚŽŵĂŬĞƚŚĞƐĞƉůĞĚŐĞƐ͘dŚĞŶƚŚĞǇĐŽƵůĚĨŽƌŵĂŶĞǁŐŽǀ͛ƚĂŶĚďĞ readmitted to the Union. -‐Unfortunately, Lincoln gets assassinated and doesn’t get to carry his plan out. 4. Today you are going to look at two different plans for Reconstruction -‐ one from President Johnson and one from the Radical Republicans. [give directions] 5. Today you will also be performing group roles in your new groups. Some of you have the same roles as last time, some of you have new roles. [Have students remind the duties of each role] 6. Like always, you will peer evaluate each other and to get a 4 you have to carry out all the duties of your role. I will also only collect one worksheet from each group again. You have to discuss only, no writing for 5 minutes, you will have about 15 minutes to finish the rest of the worksheet.
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Report Cards on Reconstruction Directions: For each Reconstruction issue, read President Johnson’s plan and the Radical Republicans’ plan. Discuss with your group members the strengths and weaknesses of each plan. Keep in mind that the goal of Reconstruction was to reunite the country in a stable and fair way. Then, give each plan a letter grade, and answer the questions that follow. Be specific! You will have 5 minutes of only discussion before you can start writing. Grading Scale A = Excellent plan, no weaknesses B = Good plan, has only minor weaknesses C = Some good parts and some weaknesses D = Only a few strengths and major weaknesses F = Plan will never work Reconstruction Issue #1: What should be done to Southerners who rebelled? Radical Republicans’ Plan x
Southerners should be punished so they will not rebel again. One idea is to take away all the plantations and divide up the land among the freed slaves. x Leaders of the South should lose their governmental positions. A new set of leaders should be brought in to reconstruct the South. Any person who held a leadership position before the war cannot hold public office until he is pardoned (forgiven) by Congress. This plan deserves a grade of _________. President Johnson’s Plan x x x
Southerners have to take an oath (verbal promise) to support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. The oath also includes a promise to obey all laws passed during the war, especially regarding emancipation (freeing) of the slaves. Confederate officers, large landholders, and any other leaders of the pre-‐war South have to seek a special pardon if they want to regain their rights as citizens. Lincoln’s idea of “malice (hatred) toward none” is a good one. Being easy on the South will heal the wounds of the nation more effectively and quickly.
This plan deserves a grade of _________.
Examining Cooperative Learning 96 1. Whose plan for Southerners who rebelled is better? Why? (be specific!) 2. What is the worst part of the other plan? Why? Reconstruction Issue #2: What should Southern states be required to do to be re-‐admitted into the Union? Radical Republicans’ Plan x x
Southern states had given up their right to be a state by seceding from the union. They need to be punished for their actions. In order to come back into the union as a state, a southern state would have to meet these conditions: -‐-‐Call a convention to write a new state constitution. -‐-‐Guarantee African Americans full rights as citizens. -‐-‐Guarantee African Americans the right to vote. -‐-‐Former Confederate officials and army officers could not vote on these issues.
x The states would be ruled by the military until all laws were enforced. This plan deserves a grade of _________. President Johnson’s Plan x x
Individual leaders of the Southern states – not the states themselves – had made the decisions to secede. Therefore, states should not be punished harshly for secession. It is in the best interest of the country to reunite all states as quickly and easily as possible. In order to come back into the union, Southern states would have to meet these conditions: -‐-‐Call a convention to write a new state constitution. -‐-‐Do away with secession. -‐-‐Cancel all Confederate debts. -‐-‐Approve the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
Once the above conditions were met, Southerners are allowed to run their own states, hold elections, and send representatives to Congress. This plan deserves a grade of _________.
Examining Cooperative Learning 97 1. Whose plan for re-‐admitting Southern states into the Union is better? Why? (be specific!) 2. What is the worst part of the other plan? Why? Reconstruction Issue #3: What should be done for the freed slaves? Radical Republicans’ Plan x
African Americans should be guaranteed equal rights and be assisted in establishing new lives as free people. Congress should pass laws giving some land to the freed slaves and build schools for them. In fact, it is Congress’s duty to help out African Americans until they can provide for themselves. x Freed slaves will only receive justice and security if they are considered full citizens – just like whites – under the law. Many feel the right to vote is the key. x The military should have control over enforcing all laws helping the freed slaves. Without troops in the South, Radical Republicans fear that Southerners will simply ignore the new laws and continue to discriminate against the freed slaves. This plan deserves a grade of _________. President Johnson’s Plan x
African Americans should be guaranteed equal rights only if individual states want to grant them to the freed slaves. The federal government should not force Southern governments to accept new laws regarding the freed slaves. Whether or not the freed slaves ought to be given land, education, or assistance is up to each state. x African Americans should not be guaranteed the right to vote. Only certain African Americans should be given the vote, like those who can read or write. This plan deserves a grade of _________. 1. Whose plan for freed slaves is better? Why? (be specific!) 2. What is the worst part of the other plan? Why?
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Appendix M (continued on pages 98-103) May 21, 2009 AR Lesson 6 Context: This lesson is part of the unit on Reconstruction after the Civil War. The students have recently finished the unit on the Civil War, and have begun to learn about Reconstruction. Today they will be introduced to Jim Crow laws, the idea of “separate but equal,” and the Ku Klux Klan. After this lesson they will learn about how Reconstruction ultimately failed, and how the hardships African Americans faced for decades. This lesson also serves as the last intervention for my action research project. Students will be required to use accountable talk strategies (which they have already learned and used once before) in gender-‐alike cooperative groups. After this lesson students will be filling out a peer evaluation form that also asks them about their impression of the accountable talk strategies. Content Standard: History Standard 8.11.3 “Understand the effects of the Freemen’s Bureau and the restrictions placed on the rights and opportunities of freedmen, including racial segregation and ‘Jim Crow laws’.” History Standard 8.11.4 “Trace the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and describe the Klan’s effects.” Instructional Objective: Students will understand the idea of “separate but equal” and how Jim Crow laws did not provide equality to African Americans in any way. They will consider how people reacted to the Ku Klux Klan. They will empathize with the emotions of African Americans during Reconstruction through a written diary entry. Finally, they will practice using accountable talk strategies aimed to improve participation and meaningful student discourse. Theoretical Foundation: This lesson builds strongly on the theory of the zone of proximal development, in which students will learn more through interaction with peers. As the students discuss and consider multiple perspectives they will stretch their thinking and grow their understanding. This lesson provides students a chance to experience historical empathy by asking them to consider emotions and feelings of African Americans during Reconstruction. This lesson also uses a discussion strategy, accountable talk, aimed to improve participation and meaningful student discourse. Evidence of Understanding/Assessment: Formative assessments – x Group discussions x Group participation Summative Assessment – x Written answers to questions x Peer evaluation forms Learning Experiences: Introduction: Reminder of what we discussed yesterday. Who was the Freedmen’s Bureau created to help? In what ways did it try to help them? What was the 13th Amendment? The 14th? The 15th? [5 min]
Examining Cooperative Learning 99 Instructional Activities: 1) Review accountable talk strategies: Teacher will ask students to get out their accountable talk strategies paper. Teacher will ask students to describe each of the three accountable talk strategies and ask them to provide examples. [5 min] -‐If I say, “After the Civil War African Americans were granted more rights,” give me an example of a linking response. (students offer ideas) -‐If I say, “One goal of the Freedmen’s Bureau was to provide African Americans with education,” give me an example of a revoicing response. (students offer ideas) -‐What is an example of a productive question that could be asked on this topic? 2) Explain peer evaluation: Teacher remind students of the peer evaluation that will take place at the end of class. Scores and grading process will be explained. Teacher will emphasize that there should be no pressuring peers to give a certain grade-‐ if you want the full points you need to demonstrate that by listening, participating, and trying to use accountable talk strategies. [5 min] 3) Explain assignment: Teacher will provide introduction to the assignment and go through it with the class, emphasizing where groups should engage in discussion. Teacher will also explain to students that for the first 5 minutes of discussion there is no writing allowed-‐ groups can only discuss. After 5 minutes is up, they will have 15 additional minutes to continue discussing and write down their answers. Teacher will explain that today, because of the diary entry requirement, she will be collecting worksheets from each student. [5 min] 4) Begin assignment: Students will begin the assignment by discussing for 5 minutes. During this time they will not be allowed to write anything. [5 min] 5) Continue discussion and record answers: Students will be given 15 minutes in which they can finish their discussion and record their answers. [15 min] 7) Peer evaluation: Students will complete the peer evaluation form. They will be instructed that there should be no talking during this time. [10 min] Differentiation and Academic Language: x Academic language: Language needs in this lesson will be supported by group discussion and members of varying ability levels, and the teacher as necessary. The photograph helps visual learners see a representation of what they are reading, and will assist English language learners in understanding the content. x Differentiation: This lesson is interactive and will engage all students. Students will be placed in mixed ability groups, allowing struggling students to benefit from their higher performing peers. Instructional Materials: x Packets x Audio recorders x Document camera x Accountable talk strategies handout x Peer evaluation form
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Jim Crow Laws Jim Crow laws were laws that enforced segregation, or the forced separation of whites and African Americans in public places. They were most common in southern states, but almost every state in the US had a form of Jim Crows laws at one time or another. Jim Crow laws lasted from 1876 – 1965. The laws were made to enforce “separate but equal” public facilities for people based on race.
This picture is an example of “separate but equal” drinking fountains. TASK 1: Discuss this picture with your group and answer the following questions: 1. What do you notice about this picture? 2. What does this picture tell us about “separate but equal” Jim Crow laws and how they were actually carried out?
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TASK 2: Read the below examples of actual Jim Crow laws from different southern states. Also read the etiquette rules that follow (etiquette rules are expectations for how you should act). x Barbers. No colored barber shall serve as a barber (to) white girls or women (Georgia). x Burial. The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons (Georgia). x Buses. All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate tickets windows for the white and colored races (Alabama). x Education. The schools for white children and the schools for negro children shall be conducted separately (Florida). x Nurses. No person or corporation shall require any White female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms in hospitals, either public or private, in which negro men are placed (Alabama). x Teaching. Any instructor who shall teach in any school, college or institution where members of the white and colored race are received and enrolled as pupils for instruction shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined… (Oklahoma). Etiquette Rules x
A black male cannot offer to shake hands with a white male because it implies social equality. x Blacks and whites should not eat together. If they do eat together, whites are served first. x Blacks are not allowed to show public affection toward one another in public, especially kissing, because it offends whites. x Whites do not use titles of respect when referring to blacks (Mr., Mrs., Miss, Sir, Ma’am). Instead blacks are called by their first names. Instead, blacks are called by their first names. Blacks have to use courtesy titles when referring to whites, and are not allowed to call them by their first names. x If a black person rides in a car with a white person, the black person must sit in the back seat, or the back of the truck. x White drivers have the right-of-way at all intersections. 1. How would these laws and rules make you feel if you were an African American at the time? 2. Which of these laws or etiquette rule is the most shocking to you? Why? 3. Jim Crow laws were created to make separate but equal facilities for whites and African Americans. Did they accomplish this? Explain your answer.
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Ku Klux Klan Discrimination against African Americans did not end with Jim Crow laws. The Ku Klux Klan is an organization that promotes white supremacy and racial segregation (separation). Founded during the Reconstruction period, the Klan’s official membership reach 4.5 million by 1924. For decades the Klan used intimidation, violence, and lynchings (hanging) to attempt to stop African Americans and sympathetic whites from seeking equal rights. TASK 3: Discuss the picture below of a member of the Ku Klux Klan during the Reconstruction era and answer the questions.
1. Why do you think the Ku Klux Klan wore this type of outfit? 2. When else in history has a group of people tried to use fear to oppress another group of people? (There is not one right or wrong answer to this question)
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TASK 4: Considering everything you have learned today, write a six sentence diary entry as if you were in African American living in the South during Reconstruction. Before you write, discuss with your group: What emotions would you feel? How do Jim Crow laws affect your everyday life? How does the Ku Klux Klan affect your everyday life? What actions might you take to improve your rights?
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