Good Group Work

The Good Group Work activity is designed to set the norms for group work throughout the course. This activity is important in constructing a collaborative problem-solving environment valuing all students’ ideas.

The activity launches by asking students to reflect on the things that they do and do not like people to say and to do when working on math problems in a group. Ask them to generate a list individually.

Once students have generated their lists, assign students to a group. Assign each group a facilitator (some methods to consider: the student with the most recent birthday, wearing the lightest color, etc) who will be responsible for recording the group ideas and ensuring each student will have a chance to share their thoughts in the group. Groups will consider the following questions (Slide):

  • What do you like when working in groups doing math with other people? What do you not like?
  • What are some math stereotypes we may have while working in a math group?

After groups have had time to plan their responses, have group members share out their responses to the class. On the board curate a list of the “What we don’t like” and “What we like” list. Save this list of group norms to be referred to throughout the course.

Note to teacher

If you hear negative comments, such as “I don’t like waiting for slow people” take this as an opportunity to initiate a class discussion. All comments should be respectful to all students and should not place labels on students.


Analyze Dear Data Postcards

Launch the next activity as an opportunity to explore variability within our own lives visually. Start with making a connection between the differences in people and the variability that exists in the world leading to variability in data. Share the story of Georgia and Stefanie’s year of data postcards. Consider watching the video of their story as a class.

Set students up to work in groups to make sense of a pair of postcards in the activity Exploring Variability (Handout 1, Resources for Handout 1, Sample Student Work, Slide for Handout 1).

There are four different sets of postcards. Groups will be working on exploring one of the four. Once groups have finished their exploration of the postcards, set them up to share ideas in jigsaw groups in which each pair of postcards is represented. Put one group member from each group with a different group member from each group so that one person can share about each of the four different pairs of graphs.

Note to teacher

A jigsaw activity is where students are split into groups to explore different topics. Each group would become experts in a particular topic. (For example: Group A becomes experts on Cookies, Group B on Location services, Group C on Targeted Advertising, etc.) Students are then regrouped so that there is an expert representing each topic in each of the new groups. (New groups would have 1 expert on Cookies, 1 expert on Location Services, 1 expert on Targeted Advertising, etc.) Each individual then has an opportunity to share their expertise with their new group members.

Materials Required

Big Bang Data Video

Handout 1: Exploring Variability

Resources for Handout 1: Exploring Variability

Sample Student Work for Handout 1


Debrief Findings as a Class

As a whole class, discuss what surprised students about the postcards? What was interesting or challenging? What types of variability were Georgia and Stefanie exploring through their data collection and visuals? (Dear Data Postcard Discussion Slide)