While some believe that too many cooks spoil the broth, chemistry teacher Ms. Manchester takes the view that teamwork divides the work and multiplies success!
Manchester’s philosophy is evident in a classroom activity which she calls ‘The Power of the Collective.’ In this activity students take a couple of minutes on their own to preview a problem, take notes, and think of pertinent questions. For example, the AP classes have recently been grappling with intermolecular forces, and using these forces to describe physical characteristics of molecules. Next, students talk through the problem in small groups. The activity culminates with a whole class discussion.
‘The first time I get a class to do the power of the collective activity, students can be reticent to take a risk and put out their ideas in front of the class,’ Manchester says. ‘Once they warm up, they surprise themselves by how much they can learn from each other. Sometimes just hearing an explanation in another voice, besides mine, can be profoundly helpful.’
The POC can be done in reverse as well. Students have five minutes to preview the question individually, a 5-10 minute whole class discussion, and then the kids are sent off to complete the question independently.