*Named change to protect confidentiality.
Working with peers has historically been very difficult for *Sam. He has Autism, more specifically Asperger Syndrome, and finds it challenging to connect with other students and work in groups. This year we started by developing the foundation for group work experiences with the use of the P2A Collaboration Continuum and the P2A Constructive Criticism tools for the entire class. By having clearly defined expectations of what group work will look like and sound like for all students, we have noticed improved productivity and overall quality of work for all. Additionally, the level of participation in groups and the acceptance of constructive criticism have far exceeded any of our expectations for Sam, in particular.
I sat one-on-one with Sam to discuss why things seemed so different this year compared to years past. He was able to easily explain that having knowledge of the guidelines for his role and the roles of other members of the group makes it very easy to work together successfully. He expressed that he knows that he can’t be the dependent member of the group waiting for the others to do the work. Furthermore, when working in groups he can’t go off and work independently, although he prefers independent work. In addition, Sam explained that in the past he didn’t like it when students disagreed with him on strategies to approach the group assignments. He felt like group members weren’t letting him give adequate input to the final product. Because each group work activity begins with a group brainstorm, Sam now feels that students hear his ideas and he is able to hear the ideas that others bring to the table too.
In using the P2A Constructive Criticism tool throughout the first trimester we have also noticed improved delivery and acceptance of criticism for Sam. During author’s chair each week we allow students the opportunity to share their writing with an added option to accept constructive criticism regarding their piece at the end of the session. At the beginning of the year the adults in the room would hold their breath when Sam raised his hand to offer criticism as it was usually very direct, and many times rude. Having the language clearly spelled out on how to successfully deliver constructive criticism we have noticed students welcoming the suggestions Sam has to offer. In addition, Sam is working on successful strategies to communicate effective constructive criticism that will be used in school and the work place.
- Here’s how this tool added value to reaching and teaching this student:
- The P2A Collaboration Continuum and the P2A Constructive Criticism tools provided a clear set of expectations/rules for group work and providing feedback to peers.
- Here are a few ways that you could adapt or adopt it to meet your students struggling with similar (or other related) challenges:
- Show students what ineffective group work looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vCrnYQbP4g
- Have students create scenarios in which they illustrate effective group work situations based on the P2A Collaboration Continuum.
- Create a rubric in which students can evaluate their role in group work situations or after providing constructive criticism to peers.
- Use the P2A Collaboration Continuum poster and/or P2A Constructive Criticism poster to provide students concrete feedback about their work during the group work time.