Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Sharing my slice of life (#sol14) over at Two Writing Teachers.  
Please join us!

Working together can be hard. My students began book club groups yesterday. They met and planned strategies for success. My guidance was simple...think about groups you've been in already. What worked? What didn't? Use that to guide your rules & procedures for this group. As always, my sixth grade students impressed me with their mature and wise outlook on making a group work. As I read over their strategies, I think...if only we, as adults, could follow these suggestions. Here are some of my favorites: 

My favorite in this list is "Be calm". That's a reminder for me when working in a group. As I read it, I wonder where that originated from...what happened to that student to motivate them to add that into their rules. 

"Be kind"! So simple, yet so important to a functioning group! Also, "Stay serious when you're supposed to be" allows for laughter and fun...as long as the work's getting done. I love sixth graders!

Did you count the exclamation points? Haha! 

"No meanies..." Yes! They were supposed to form all their rules in the positive, but I have to say that I like this one the way it is. It's clear and concise and effective. 

As I read through their plans, I reflect on groups and teams I'm on and my part in them...the ones that work and the ones that don't. It's hard. Working with others, collaborating can be messy and difficult. I've had some painful experiences with teams lately. I've made some mistakes and some hurtful words were spoken. It took much soul searching to figure out what to do and how to make things work. 

After these experiences, my goals for my students, in terms of group work, have changed this year. I want them to figure out what works for them and what doesn't. We will be doing lots of reflecting about how a group works and our part in it and what to do when people don't follow the rules. Collaborating, when it works, is powerful and when it doesn't, is painful. I want them to experience the power of success and work through the pain of failure...so when they are adults and in the world, they'll have the skills to find their way. 


  1. Love all the cheery orange. Your sentiment about the kids figuring out what works for them as a group is so true! They DO know each other and what THEY need to do to make their group work. You will empower them to successful collaboration.

  2. I love exclamation points!!!!!!!!! The one rule that stayed with me is "Be smart with reading." I need to remember that when I work with my students!

  3. This is such powerful work, Michelle. It takes time, it's challenging, and sometimes it's frustrating. But so worth it, for once the habits are learned, our kids follow through. I think collaboration is easier for them than it is for us...judging from my colleagues in our building!

  4. It does seem that the orange slice was designed with your blog in mind! I love your students' thinking about collaboration. How much simpler life would be if adults followed these rules! Thanks for sharing.

  5. The new SOL button was made for you or maybe you're made for it! Thanks for the reminder for my groups. There have been some bumps on our road of book groups. Sometimes I assume too much -- they may need to look at their "rules" and ask themselves are they meeting them. Tough work but so worth it. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Your students wrote great rules for collaboration and for life. They are lucky to have your guidance.

  7. Love how you gave ownership of this over to the students - they sure rose to the occasion!

  8. It's funny how much we can learn from kids! They obviously put some thought into what they wanted to get out of the group and what it takes to get that. Nice post.

  9. You have some very wise sixth graders. I love their rules for working in groups.

  10. This line is so true: "Collaborating, when it works, is powerful and when it doesn't, is painful." Collaboration is an art. I love that you allowed for planning strategies for success before starting book groups. Great post!


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