When students enter the room, they will be directed to draw a "business card" from a bag. The colored cards each represent an expert group. There will be five expert groups- folded mountains, fault block mountains, volcanic mountains, dome mountains and an erosion group. As students draw their cards, I direct them to find their other group members and find a table to sit at.
I explain to the students that they are going to be in charge of teaching their classmates about their type of mountain. They get to decide what's important and what the other students need to know. They need to decide how to present the information and the other students will be required to take notes on each groups' information. The final project will be to synthesize all the information they've learned to create a mountain flip book to show what they've learned.
We then work to create the rubric.
I have included the rubric I created with my students which you could use but feel free to create your own rubric with your students to increase buy in.
A note: A 4 on a rubric in my district is above grade level work. A 3 on a rubric in my district is at grade level, a 2 is progressing toward grade level and a 1 is below grade level. I wanted to include that in case your rubrics grade on a different scale.
Random groups or random- groups- look- alike- that is the question. I did total random groups for this lesson knowing that it was academically challenging and knowing that some groups may be lacking a leader or even someone who understood what to do.
I went with random groups because I knew I had enough leaders and high achieving kiddos that each group would probably be OK. If a group did indeed end up with all lower achieving students or LEP students or IEP students, I could shuffle or I could sit with that group and give them the extra support they needed.
My groups did turn out OK, but if you have a worry that they won't, then find a way to use the cards that "appears" random but really isn't. Whatever you do, though, don't call out one group or another to choose separately or out of a separate bag because that will only call attention to the "ones that need help" or the "ones that have all the answers".
Before I let the students go off to become an expert, I talk to them about the jobs that are available in an expert group. The jobs are: recorder, supplies, time keeper, researcher and task manager. I was sure to remind the students that even though the students have specific jobs, they all need to help in the preparation of the product.
So, off they went to become an expert. I just wandered the room checking for progress and monitor behavior, but really, they were so engaged in the process that most students were on track and participating.
This lesson may take more than an hour especially if the students' product is a powerpoint, but honestly, if my students chose powerpoint, I would make sure that they know how to work the software before I let them do that.
I gather the class back together to wrap up the day. We do a rubric check in to see their progress. I interview each group to ask them what they have left to do and who is going to finish their tasks at home.
After each group interview, it is time to go. I send the students off with great expectations for tomorrow- showing off their expertise!!!