Bruno Cesar responded to my initial interview post to express an interest in learning teams for managing large classes so I'm posting a separate blog entry to encourage others to share their experiences

Bruno Cesar responded to my initial interview post to express an interest in learning teams for managing large classes so I'm posting a separate blog entry to encourage others to share their experiences.I first started using learning teams several years ago when I taught a group of students (50) who were studying a masters degree in strategic project management, which included learning how to manage team projects. The students were organised into learning teams to provide 'loop input', i.e. by learning in teams and completing team assignments they would experience team working and understand how it related to the project management concepts they were finding out about on their degree.I was teaching a module in research skills, helping students to read critically, write evidence-based essays and carry out research for their dissertations. It wasn't possible to give detailed feedback on indivudual performance to 50 students but it was possible to provide evaluative checklists which enabled team members to give each other feedback on their performance. Students on masters degrees tend to cohere into a tight knit group, because they are all facing the same pressures, so it was not difficult to encourage them to rely on their team members for support.However, it was crucial to formalise the team working by asking teams to write contracts specifying how they would work together, by setting team assignments and by using peer evaluation of the contribution of each individual to adjust their marks in team assignments. The peer evaluation created challenges for students whose contribution had been judged to be minimal and for teams who were not working well together. However the students recognised that they were getting valuable experience which they could transfer to future work contexts and they were given support to improve the way their team members worked together.During class input sessions I began to have the feeling that I was teaching twelve large students rather than fifty students organised into teams of six.I guess one comment might be that this kind of classroom organisation works for mature students on masters courses who have very clear goals for their learning and can appreciate the value of the activity. Perhaps it would not work so well for younger students with less clear goals. What do you think?

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Hello, Olwyn Alexander,I have attended classes of English myself, as a learner, at Centro de Lenguas Modernas, an institution of Universidad de Granada, Spain. We used to work in groups, quite often. The teacher was an experienced one, a kind British lady.I'll just refer to one point. We were adults, with a professional interest in learning and practising general English. I'm a teacher of English myself.The fact of working in groups was useful, because each member of the team - teams of two or three - might have a different answer when working out exercises of the course book. As a result we confronted our proposals and we learned from one another; you thought whether your classmate's answer could be the correct one.I also think that working in groups made you become more, say, tense, and as a result you used to invest more effort and focus.With regard to adolescent students for example, I'd like to write a lot, but now I'm going to refer to one aspect that comes to my mind first.You split a large class into two teams. And you all practice, say, one grammar pattern for example, by playing one team vs the other one, so as to have two competitors, two players.In this way the students of the same team stick together closely, in order to contribute with the best answer or reply. I mean, this competition fosters concentration and working out a specific grammar pattern.You, any teacher, can have a peek at my blog:http://fernandoexperiences.blogspot.com

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