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Breaking (into) the Circle

Group Work for Change in the English Classroom

By Hephzib Roskelly

Every student loves to hear the teacher say, "Let's break into groups" because group discussions and activities can quickly turn into a digressive social hour. Yet group work can be a powerful strategy for promoting literacy, inquiry, and diversity among students of any age. Breaking (into) the Circle offers tested methods for utilizing groups in the English classroom, methods that won't lead to anarchy but will lead to a classroom where students cooperate in the pursuit of common goals, deepening their literacy and learning skills while gaining valuable experience with group dynamics.

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Every student loves to hear the teacher say, "Let's break into groups" because group discussions and activities can quickly turn into a digressive social hour. Yet group work can be a powerful strategy for promoting literacy, inquiry, and diversity among students of any age. Breaking (into) the Circle offers tested methods for utilizing groups in the English classroom, methods that won't lead to anarchy but will lead to a classroom where students cooperate in the pursuit of common goals, deepening their literacy and learning skills while gaining valuable experience with group dynamics.

Hephzibah Roskelly examines groups inside and out, using both theory and ethnography to document why groups succeed and how to remedy them when they are failing. You will watch groups work together to find a voice, resolve conflicts, clarify motives, and deepen understanding. Meanwhile Roskelly's pragmatic advice about monitoring and mentoring groups will help you maximize their learning opportunities. There are chapters devoted to teaching writing with groups, teaching literature with groups, and one devoted to issues of race, ethnicity, and gender that may arise inside groups. Roskelly firmly believes that group work can help you foster acceptance of diversity in your classroom, and she demonstrates how this can happen. Finally, in a special feature that every teacher will find useful, she offers a Q & A of the questions that teachers have most frequently asked her about group work

Practical, research-based, and smart, Breaking (into) the Circle will guide you in successfully introducing satisfying group work in your classroom or assist you in redesigning group work to best meet your students' needs and your own curriculum agendas. With Hephzibah Roskelly's help, you'll discover that the next time you say, "Let's break into groups," the discourse inside them will go far beyond social digression.

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