Building a Classroom Community, part 4

Hannah Chandler

Working in pairs and small groups

Giving students opportunities to collaborate helps build a strong sense of community in your classroom, and research shows that students learn better when they learn together. Focusing on partnerships

Working together gives students the chance to grapple with problems, consider different points of view, and challenge and support each other, all of which contribute to stronger relationships among students and a deeper understanding of the mathematics.

When students work in pairs and small groups, they can, with guidance and modeling from you, practice skills that build community. You can help them practice habits like the following when they work in pairs and small groups. These habits will also improve your work together as a whole class.

  • Start their work together with a simple greeting and a short statement about they are going to do together.
  • Express differences of opinion or different strategies respectfully.
  • Explain and justify their thinking clearly so that someone else can understand.
  • Ask respectful questions of each other to gain a deeper understanding of other people’s ideas.
  • Reflect upon their work together to identify what they learned, evaluate whether they accomplished the task they set out to do, and consider what worked well about their partnership.

Hannah Chandler is a curriculum writer for MLC.