Thursday, February 12, 2009

Topic: Speaking in Small Groups (1)

10-second review: A three-part article taken from my book, Teaching English, How To…., (Xlibris, 2004) consisting of my approach to teaching formal speech, engaging in small-group activities and constructing and responding to interviews especially job interviews.

Title: “How Can Teachers Help Students Overcome Their Fear of Speaking in Public?” Teaching English, How To…. Raymond Stopper. Xlibris, 2004. pp. 297-305.

A second skill in speaking is the small group discussion (related today to “cooperative learning,” or group projects), which, in my experience, at every educational level, has been a complete waste of time. Usually, “getting into small groups” meant “BS-ing” about irrelevant topics, and group projects usually became the responsibility of one or two people to complete the project. However, in the real world, group projects are the way in which the world’s business is completed. Group projects involve a variety of talents in producing results that could probably not be attained by any one individual. Teaching students how to work in groups needs to be taken seriously.

English teachers have the responsibility to train students in the skills and attitudes needed to participate successfully in small group discussion and projects. They need to teach students how to moderate a discussion and how to act as leaders in projects, how to take notes for later reporting to the larger group and how to analyze the roles of various participants in order to learn what helps a group to achieve its goals and what prevents a group from achieving its goals. As usual, the teachers’ performing these same tasks as they work with their students provides models to follow.

David M. Litsey (196) suggests 18 roles that people play in a group enterprise. He divides these roles into three categories: “Maintenance,” “Task Roles,” and “Self-Serving roles.”

Next: Maintenance Roles.

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