What should group work look like during an Inquiry Based Lesson?

An important part of the inquiry based lessons is that students engage in group work to solve the inquiry. Most lessons are best completed in groups of 3-4 students. During this time, students collaborate with one another and show their work on their inquiry sheets. Group work is integral to completing the inquiry based lessons, giving students an opportunity to communicate their own ideas as well as validate and question what their classmates have to say.

We provide positive group discussion guidelines in every inquiry based lesson. These will help keep work time productive and positive. Before your first inquiry based lesson, be sure to review these guidelines with your students. Spending time setting group work norms at the beginning will be beneficial in the long run.

More information on our positive group discussion guidelines:

  1. Everyone participates. No one student should be solving the inquiry alone. Everyone in the group needs to contribute something. Everyone's input is valuable. Each student should be writing and showing work on his or her own inquiry sheet, even if assistance from another student is needed. This will ensure students get the most out of the experience.
  2. Everyone shows respect. It is natural that students will think differently during an inquiry lesson. Students need to respectfully disagree with one another by saying, "I disagree with ___ because..." or "I thought something different from ___." Utilizing these sentence stems will increase the quality of group discussion and ensure that students feel safe sharing their ideas.
  3. Everyone is focused on the task. No one should be doing another activity during an inquiry based lesson. It's important that the entire group be focused on solving the task in front of them. This will ensure that high-quality group work can happen.
  4. One person speaks at a time. This is the only way students will be able to hear and understand what their peers are saying. It is beneficial to decide on a group sharing procedure as a class. This will ensure that everyone has a chance to speak and that everyone can be heard.
  5. Be nice - compliment each other! Group work can be frustrating at times. We want to maintain a positive working environment. Students can compliment one another by saying "I like what ____ said because..." or "I thought the same thing as ____."

You may also want to make anchor charts with accountable talk sentence starters:

  • I agree with ____ because...
  • I disagree with ____ because...
  • I like what ____ said because...
  • I can see that, however...
  • I'd like to go back to what ____ said about...
  • I'd like to add to what ____ said.
  • I noticed that...
  • An example is...
  • So what you're saying is...
  • Did you mean...?
  • Do you think that...?
  • Why do you think that?
  • Where does it say that in the inquiry?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • Can you explain what you mean?
  • Can you show me how you did that?
  • I don't understand...
  • I'm confused about...
  • I was thinking about what ___ said and I wonder if...
  • What ____ said makes me wonder...
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