Small Group Collaboration

An important aspect of the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum is group work. Groups of  2, 3 or 4 students work together almost daily to share their thoughts and strategies with one another by agreeing or disagreeing, explaining, justifying their answers, or asking clarifying questions. The challenge is how to make sure when students are asked to “turn and talk ” to one another the discussion is centered around mathematics- not on the latest video game. I recently came across the “4 L’s” participation protocol as a classroom strategy to encourage students to interact with one another in a structured manner.

The “4 L’s are:

  1. Look at your partner
  2. Lean towards your partner
  3. Lower your voice
  4. Listen attentively

*Additionally, teachers can look for students who use evidence and examples to support their discussions.

Providing explicit step-by-step instructions and communicating clear expectations to students provides the support they need to actively participate in group discussions in meaningful ways.

To see a video of the “4 L’s” participation protocol in a middle school classroom click here.

Link: Participation Protocol Checklist

What is your favorite strategy to get your students engaged in small group discussions?



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