Group Roles: Everybody Loves Lanyards!

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As mentioned in a previous post I recently ran a CBL unit in my classroom with students working on solutions in small groups for the first time. This seemed daunting but it actually was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. For the most part, teams worked together efficiently and the classroom ran smoothly when I thought chaos was sure to reign.

One idea I introduced was group member tasks; each member of the group had a set responsibility that allowed the groups to work together with all jobs being filled. I know this is an old idea but I’ve never used it before and it worked like a dream. The quiet kids got a chance to be heard, the bossy kids had to step back and concentrate on their own jobs, the kids that previously rode on the wave of the group had to fulfil a job so they wouldn’t let down the team down, and most importantly, everyone got a lanyard. Nothing makes people feel important like a lanyard does. 

The roles:

  • Chairperson: not the boss, but the facilitator. The chairperson has to run votes on decisions, make sure all group members get a say and  no-one dominates conversations.
  • Documenter: this person keeps all notes, pictures, papers and documents and bits and pieces that accumulate throughout the project. They take photos and videos of tasks as they group complete them, and are responsible for having footage for the group’s solution video.
  • Scribe: self-explanatory and very difficult for grade 2s! They take notes on all important decisions and discussions and are in charge of any writing that takes place, such as on posters.
  • Reporter: this person reminds the group what they are up to each time they meet, and are responsible for filling in the teacher on progress during group conferences, and report back to the class on what the group is doing.
  • Resource getter: a fancy title, to be sure. They quite obviously collect resources (such as iPads, paper, construction materials) when needed, and is the only person allowed to ask the teacher for help when it is needed (and the group CANNOT continue without help).

I made the role cards for each student to wear using Canva, and you can download them here. Tip: print them nine-to-a-page to make them lanyard size.

 Are there any roles you think are important that I’ve missed?

How do you manage responsibilities within groups?

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4 comments

  1. As always, I love your ideas Emily!
    Are students in groups for the whole topic – including for the challenge solution?
    I’ve paired my kids this term with a ‘reflection buddy’ and they’ve been creating an ongoing Book Creator presentation of their learning and thoughts for the term. I’ve found some students aren’t particularly happy with their partners at times – perhaps larger groups would work better, particularly with assigned roles. I remember reading about this with Primary Connections. You are a whiz at this stuff – I look forward to seeing how this goes with your and their learning!
    Keep us updated!!

    1. They are only in groups once they begin the solution. They think of their own ideas for a solution, then mingle and discuss ideas with others and form groups by finding similar ideas and interests and agreeing on a challenge. From there I gave out the job cards (at random for our first go).

      It’s a great idea to make an ongoing presentation – that might be something I can encourage the documenter to do to keep track of their progress and process. I think you’re always going to have some problems with kids working together – there’s an upside and downside to small and larger groups. It’s about teaching them strategies for how to work together effectively.

      Thanks for the comment Abbey 🙂

  2. I love this idea of having students with specific job roles in their CBL groups. I have been thinking of putting something like this in place as we begin our solution groups and stumbled back across this post of yours. With your help and ideas here I will be implementing these roles to help my groups work towards their end goal.

    Have you continued these roles in your current CBL unit? How did these roles go last year? Was there anything you would change or alter?

    Thanks also for sharing your wonderful role cards. It saves me time in creating my own. Hopefully I can save you time in some way later!

    Cheers!

    1. Thanks for the feedback Candice. I think it would work brilliantly with your older kids too. I haven’t got the students using these roles yet in this unit, but they will be starting them soon as they begin to develop their solutions. I think the particular roles I selected for this have worked out well. The only one that is not as well utilised so far is the documenter. I thought that role would be particularly good for the solution videos but as yet I haven’t gotten to making those with grade 2s. That’s my aim for this term. Fingers crossed!

      Good luck with your groups! Let me know how they go!

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