When there is only one teacher in the room, it is almost certain that there will be a bell curve of success – there are simply too many students with too many divergent educational needs for one person to respond to.  However, if there is a structure that allows  students who understand new material faster to teach those who need more time, everyone wins – faster students learn the material more deeply by having to explain it, and slower students can ask more questions and be more engaged in one-to-one conversations.  When the room is filled with teachers and learners, everyone learns more.

In my experience, study groups are the optimal mechanism for “sharing the wealth” in this way.  When students come to trust and rely on each other, they can become engaged in a more personal and open learning process.  They come to rely on conversational learning as essential to their academic success.

There are many functions that such groups can serve.  One of the most practical is for students to review homework or individual classwork with each other.  Here is a video of several such groups going over homework.


This post is an excerpt from "A Teacher's Manual"

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