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Anne Brown's Guidelines for Doing Group Work

These guidelines are good for both in-class and out-of-class group work.

1. Move into your groups quickly, sit close together, use first names, and get right to work. Do not engage in "off-task" discussion. Make it your responsibility to encourage everyone to participate.

2. Read aloud all instructions and given information. Getting all of the facts into the "record" helps ensure that everyone is aware of the assumptions and the expectations of the assignment.

3. Listen carefully to each other. Try not to interrupt. Respond to, or at least acknowledge, comments made or questions asked by other group members.

4. Do not accept confusion passively. If you do not understand the information that someone is presenting, try to paraphrase what was said, or ask someone to help you paraphrase it.

5. Ask for clarification whenever someone uses a word in a way that you find confusing. The correct use of terminology is an essential part of successful communication in mathematics.

6. Do not split up the work. Everyone should focus their attention on the same problem at the same time. It is much easier to resolve conflicts when group members work together and check for agreement frequently.

7. Make a habit of explaining your reasoning or "thinking out loud," and ask others to do the same. The process of constructing and refining explanations helps everyone to relate the information being presented to what they already know.

8. Monitor your group's progress and be aware of the time constraints. It is important, and appropriate, to ask each other how what you are doing will help your group complete the assignment.

9. If your group gets stuck, review and summarize what you've done so far. This process creates new opportunities for group members to ask questions, and often it will reveal important connections that have been overlooked.

10. Question-asking is the engine that drives mathematical investigations. Re-read the guidelines above and identify as many different ways as you can to generate questions during group work.

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