Getting Children into Groups #ukedchat

Frank Noschese has shared a fabulous way of getting children into groups at the beginning of a term. I’ve made a couple of tiny tweaks for my UK students.

I waited at the door and, as kids entered class, gave each one a card with a word on it.

Co-operation vs collaboration

Good, clear stuff from Paco Gonzalez

Cooperation vs Collaboration

We often use these words interchangeably, but they represent fundamentally different ways of contributing to a group and each comes with its own dynamics and power structures that shape groups in different ways …

When collaborating, people work together (co-labor) on a single shared goal.

Boys ‘need to move in lessons’

"Ten-year-old boys completed significantly more work when they worked in groups than when they worked in pairs with another child."

"Boys identify themselves as members of the group, not as an individual in a group."

Source: here

The Tyranny of Stuctureless

Contrary to what we would like to believe, there is no such thing as a structureless group. Any group of people of whatever nature that comes together for any length of time for any purpose will inevitably structure itself in some fashion.

Brainstorm, but carefully and only after individual thought

Psychologists have long known that the practice of 'brainstorming' is a sure road to fewer new ideas and less innovation than that produced when we work individually. In groups we loaf, feel anxious and our own ideas are soon forgotten while we listen to others.

Groups are naturally extreme

Again, from Dan Gardner’s book Risk:

“What happens when people who share a belief get together to discuss it?  Psychologists know the answer to that and it’s not pretty.  They call it group polarisation.

It seems reasonable to think that when like-minded people get together to discuss a proposed hazardous waste site, or the breast implants they believe are making them sick, or some other risk, their views will tend to coalesce around the average within the group. 


Reminded today about geese and their amazing flocking strategies. All seemingly based on simple rules, if you believe the boids simulations. Simple rules like: engaging, encouraging and pulling ones weight (or alignment, cohesion, and separation in Craig Reynolds’ algorithm).

  • As each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird following.