framework for groupwork in middle school revised version pour fusion .pdf

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The main objective of learning a foreign language is to enable students
to develop a communicative competency in the target language.
The students’ feedbacks at both national and local exams, for the last
years, reveal that there is a need to improve students’ performance.
In addition, there is an urgent need to increase the students’
engagement and achievement in English .Group work, half of the class,
is meant to provide an opportunity to improve learners’ performances.
A weekly group session will enable to adapt the learning process to
students’ needs.
To ensure a pathway to success,it is necessary to consider learner’s
motivation, as Barry Corbin1 points it out “motivation for learning
increases when the learner finds relevancy in the material or feels there
is a need to know the particular content’’. For this, teachers will take into
account learning styles to prevent lack of motivation.
In our schools most classes are mixed ability ones and seldom can
teacher respond to the needs of the whole class. He/she is expected to
support slow learners and challenge not only the talented ones but the
average ones as well to better their performances. Large classes , with
little time allocation prevent teachers to meet the anticipated outcomes of
the curriculum.
Group work therefore will allow to reinforce language practice.
Learners will have the necessary support so that their outcomes match
the curriculum expectations. The teacher will planlanguage skills and
knowledge oriented activities that take into consideration Individualised
Instruction .
In a group work class learners can develop their skills independently.
They take responsibility in small group tasks. They work collaboratively
and develop a positive attitude to learning.
 They can have a constructive, immediate and targeted feedback on
their own progress.
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 They can also acquire and practise the learning strategies they
need to interact with peers.
 They can take part actively in their project work , with the support
of their teacher
 They can develop their own tools to organise their work.
 They can have significant amount of speaking time which
implies a more active role in the learning process and a
positive feeling to learning a foreign language

Suggested types for grouping students
Type one :Mixed ability groups
Mixed ability grouping enables learners to cope with real life working
context , where people of different abilities work together. It has ,
therefore the advantage of a social inclusion and equal opportunities2
 It is necessary to have a balanced number of different levels in
each group
 The weaker learners will have more practice
 It enables teachers to engage the talented ones to support the
weaker classmates once he/she has finished the assigned task.
 It enables to foster the development of co-operative skills
Type two:setting according to achievements
This kind of grouping requires a diagnostic test. For the time being it
will comply to the national exam type in English, the current written test.
The shortcoming of such diagnostic test is that it is not really accountable
for being organized after a long summer holiday .It is based on academic
achievement only. It would be better to take into account teachers
evaluations of previous learners’ attainment of the last school year, in
foreign languages.
The advantage of such grouping is that it enables the teacher to organise
the courses and plan activities according to learners’ needs. It enables to
raise learner achievement, better scores in tests .It also allows students
to gain confidence and take risks, in terms of attitude to learning : being
in nearly similar attainment category prevents inhibition and
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negativefeeling due to pressure of brighter students Finally it can lessen
behaviour problems.

Group work objectives throughout the middle school cycle
Four aspects are to be considered to plan a group work syllabus

Communicative competency and interaction
Language skills
Learning strategies
Social skills ( personal and interpersonal)

Language skills
o Teacher plans receptive and productive oriented activities for
o Teacher plans interpretive activities for reading, both receptive and
productive oriented activities
o Teacher plans communicative activities to help learners develop
their speaking skill
o Teacher plans manipulative activities to enable learners to
improve their writing skills. These activities are accuracy oriented .
They can derive from grammar lessons or vocabulary ones, as well
as from the basic conventions of writing, and basic productive
competencies in writing .

Communicative competency and interaction
o Teacher plans meaningful communicative activities on topics of
interest that enable learners to
o take part in a conversation on a specific topic of interest ,
related to the interaction standards of the curriculum
(according to text type and language function)
o take part in communicative tasks :mingle/ role play, pair
o present orally ,to a small group or a larger one, a descriptive
text , a short narrative
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o report to the larger group a prepared text on an achieved
group project .
o Ask for clarification of instructions
o ask and answer to get or convey meaning of unknown words,
phrases, structures

The teacher supports his/ her learners in developing direct and indirect
strategies3.In doing so, he/she will enable learners to remember and
organise his learning more effectively.
The learners are trained to use strategies that fit their learning style. The
teacher makes them aware of their own tools .He/she explains how to
use them .He/she provides help while using one strategy. He/she
motivates by relating strategy to better achievements.
The learners

identify and evaluate their own strategies
use problem solving strategies
select appropriate strategies to perform a given task
apply an already used strategy to other contexts
use alternative strategies if the selected one is inappropriate
monitor their own progress
outline their work , their goals within time and amount limits

The social skills
Learners have already developed social skills with their family or from
the community they belong to. But some of them might have been
inattentive to social skills that other people use. The mission of the
school is to ensure behaviour standards,( cf. orientation law 04/08)
o The teacher supports his/her learners in working co- operatively
o Teacher and learners agree on study routines, discipline rules
o Teacher encourages learners to share , learn from others
o Teacher train learners to
o empathise with others
o accept differences
o accept criticism
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accept the consequences of one’s behaviour


get someone’s attention
follow instructions
share materials
use quiet voices
stay on task
share tasks
make requests

Teacher sets a classroom atmosphere that boost learners’ confidence .
He /she also help them to

achieve autonomy
lower their anxiety
express their feelings , theirs worries and enthusiasm

A group work syllabus should be planned, taking into consideration
the curriculum standards, in terms of learning objectives , competencies,
linguistic content, as well as the group work objectives that would be
distributed according to the different levels of the middle school cycle.

Typology of tasks and activities
 Product and process oriented tasks:
 Meaningful and manipulative language
 Project work
 Role play and simulations
 Survey/ questionnaire
 Interview
 Listing /categorizing
 Information gap
 Cloze test/gap filling
 Matching/ jigsaw
 Problem solving activities
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Selecting material
Story telling
Information transfer
Presentation of a group work/ poster .

It is important that inspectors plan teacher’s training to
managing group work. Some topics can be suggested:
 Group dynamics
 Individualized teaching with mixed ability classes
 Learning strategies( direct( memory/cognitive
strategies and compensation strategies) and indirect
ones (metacognitive strategies/affective strategies and
social strategies)
 Social skills
 Motivation
 Coaching ( learner and learners)

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 Strategies and definitions adapted from Chamot, Anna Uhl, et al. 1999.
The Learning Strategies Handbook. New York: Pearson Education, pp
 Learning Strategies,Alison Oswald,2007 in Introduction to teaching
Methodology ,
 Engage Every Student , Elisabeth Kirby, Ed D., and Jill Mc Donald,M
Ed.,Search Institute ed,2009.
 Doing it together ,LiuJinsia in professioonal.issue 08
May 2012 , pp27-29
 Grouping pupils and students, in Ability Grouping in Education, Judith
Ireson and Susan Hallam,Paul ChapmanPublishing, London (2001)

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