Elevating Academic Rigor by Transforming Groups into Teams

Jean Mullen
9th-12th grade math teacher, Lincoln High School, Des Moines, Iowa

I’ve always had my students working in groups, but they were never in teams. Before, students sat near each other and were encouraged to work together and talk to each other, but I didn’t have any of the supports to really help them be successful. Now I do have those supports in place and students know the expectations. I feel more prepared to teach my diverse student population; it’s easier for me to notice when my students need interventions and when they don’t, and to provide those interventions on the spot. As far as the classroom culture and productivity, it’s a lot noisier in my classroom now, but if you take a closer listen, students are talking about mathematical content and using math language. It may seem a little hectic at first, but teaming has really transformed what my classroom looks like.

Source: Toth, M.D., & Sousa, D.A. (2019). The power of student teams: Achieving social, emotional, and cognitive learning in every classroom through academic teaming (p. 98). West Palm Beach, FL: Learning Sciences International.