Group Learning Activities

Group learning activities can really help build and enhance your students’ communication, reasoning, and information synthesizing skills. In addition, they learn to cooperate and collaborate with others as they take turns speaking and listening. The following learning activity approaches offer a variety of strategies you can use with nearly any subject.

These group learning activities can be used as an introductory activity at the beginning of a unit of study, for review of a topic, or as a concluding activity at the culmination of a particular unit.

group learning activities in the classroom

Group Learning Activities for the Classroom

Jigsaw Learning:

  1. Go around the room and the students number off. For example, if you ultimately want 4 groups, you would number each student either 1, 2, 3, or 4. Gather all the 1’s together in one group, 2’s in another group, 3’s in the next group, and 4’s in your final group.
  2. Let’s suppose that you are learning about bears. Group 1 will work together to learn about black bears, group 2 about brown bears, group 3 about grizzly bears, and group 4 about polar bears.
  3. The learning that is done by each group can be self-directed – finding their own information about the bears they were assigned – or you could provide each group with your own resources.
  4. Once they have had time to learn about their bears, it’s time to switch up the groups. Form groups of 4 students each. Each new group needs to have a student from each of the previous groups. So, put a #1, 2, 3, and 4 in each group.
  5. The 1’s teach the rest of their group about black bears. The 2’s teach their group about brown bears, and so on until all 4 types of bears have been covered.

Advantages of the jigsaw learning method: It promotes cooperation and collaboration. It helps build comprehension as students are not only learning new material, but then sharing information with their peers as they teach them what they learned.

Three Step Interview:

  1. Students are placed in groups of 3.
  2. One will serve as interviewer, one as interviewee, and one as reporter.
  3. As the interview is occurring, the reporter will make notes.
  4. After each interview, the three students will rotate roles until each have had their turn in all 3 roles.
  5. Go around the class and have each student report on what they learned (from their notes taken when they were the reporter).

Advantages of the three step interview: Similarly to the jigsaw learning method, this helps promote cooperation and collaboration. In addition, they will not only be recalling the information they learned (by providing answers to the interviewer), but also practicing their skills in questioning and seeking information from others. As reporter, they will need to take the information they have heard and consolidate it so that it can be shared.

The Placemat Approach:

  1. Provide each group of 4 with a placemat similar to this. It doesn’t have to be color coded. I did that for ease of displaying it here. Each group member will also need 1-2 sticky notes.
  2. Ask a question or pose an idea to the class.
  3. Each student is designated as A, B, C, or D. They write down their answers/ideas on their sticky notes and place them in the section of the placemat that corresponds to their designation.
  4. The groups discuss their ideas and then formulate a group answer to reflect what they decide is the “best” answer.
  5. Each group shares their “best” answer with the class.

Advantages of the placemat technique: This is a great way to brainstorm! Introduce new concepts and check prior learning with this method or have students come up with questions about what they want to learn about a new topic.

Inside Circle/Outside Circle

  1. Place the children in two circles – an inner circle and an outer one. They should be facing each other.
  2. Pose a question to the class. Give them some time to think about their answers.
  3. The person on the inside shares their answer with the person they are facing (on the outside circle).
  4. The person on the outside can now extend the answer, add to it, or give a completely different answer to the person on the inside.
  5. Then, the outside circle now moves one person to the right. A new question is posed.
  6. Following the same procedure as before answers are given, this time starting with the outside circle.

Advantages of the inside circle/outside circle technique: Students can practice and enhance their communication skills through sharing their answers and building on or refuting the answers of others.

Four Corners

  1. Label 4 corners of the classroom as follows: Strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree.
  2. Post a question requiring an opinion. Students must be able to defend their choices if called on.
  3. An example of a question you might pose: “In the novel The Giver, it ends with the boy and the baby finding a new community to live in.”
  4. Students move to the corner which supports their opinion. They can then discuss their answers, formulate evidence to support those positions, and so on to then share with the class.

Advantages of the four corners method: Students are integrating their learning to form opinions and support those with evidence.