Lesson Plan

Working in Groups

Common problems when working in groups
Jennifer M.
Classroom teacher
Elkridge Landing Middle School
Elkridge, MD
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My Grades 6, 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts

Stuetns will be able to identify and explain common group problems in order to demonstrate knoweledge through a video presetnation.


W.6.10: Write routinely over extended time frame (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences

Maryland Career Framework Grades 6-8

1.C.2c: Identify motivations and aspirations.
1.A.1b: Identify one’s abilities, strengths, skills and talents as seen by self
and others and explain the significance to one’s education and career plans.


RI.6.1  Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

English Language Arts
Grades 6
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Essential Question

On the overhead project this question:

Warm Up 10/16 Groups

Why is groups work important? Do you like working in groups? Why or why not? What role do you normally play in a group?

Give students 10 minutes to write and then share their answers.


Student Instructions

Welcome to class. Today we are going to learn about common group problems.

Open up to your Notability App and answer this question in your Journal.

2 Procedure

Activity: Reading

(25 mins) Next hand out  Group Dynamics Activity Sheet.  Students should read independently and then answer the questions. Debrief as a whole group.

Reinforce the idea that in order for group work to be successful, all members need to have an opportunity to contribute equally, have a voice in making decisions, and be held accountable for their assigned contributions to the overall task to be completed.  Effective collaboration is a 21st Century skill that transfers into higher education settings and the work world where people are often required to work in teams to complete work tasks.

Student Instructions

Group Dynamics & Effective Group Work



It is an age-old questions—whined in high-pitched tones in classrooms around the world: Do we have to work in groups?  The short answer is, yes.  You most certainly do.  Group work is not about dividing and conquering the work to be done where everyone does their part alone and the members never actually work together.  It is also not about allowing a few strong workers carry the load for everyone else.  Group work involves collaboration to tackle a complex task as a collective group where everyone has a chance to make strong contributions toward the project.  Notice the part about everyone having an opportunity to participate—this means that every member has a right to an opinion and to be heard by the rest of the group.

The biggest reason why we engage in group work in school is because the ability to effectively collaborate is a necessary life skill.  It gives students the opportunity to work interactively and learn to resolve conflicts and obstacles.  These are skills that will help students become successful in the professional world.  Whether you are a welder, a surgeon, a pilot, or a retail worker, the ability to

  • break complex tasks into parts and steps,
  • plan and manage time, m.
  • develop stronger communication skills, and
  • give and receive feedback on performance.

Getting started is simple.  The first, and possibly most obvious, step is to know everyone’s name.  Everyone should be included in the decision-making process and a leader should be identified to help keep everyone on track.  Remember, though, the role of leader doesn’t mean watching everyone else do work.  The leader takes on added responsibility of making sure that the group stays focused and helping to resolve internal conflicts.  Once formed, the group should discuss and clarify their goals, allocate responsibility (also known as delegating), develop a timeline, and chunk the work to allow all group members to contribute.  An effective group deals with differences directly with the people involved, listening to everyone’s views, and then coming to an agreement that makes sense to everyone.  It also encourages everyone to take responsibility and recognizes hard work.



Now we are going to look at some common problems that occur within a group and think of some ways to solve theses problems.  First you will identify why each common problem is considered a problem and then you will come up with some possible ways to solve each problem



Common Problem

Why is this considered a problem?

Possible Solutions

Getting Off Task/Topic

When group members begin to lose focus and start talking about things unrelated to the task at hand.



Dominating or Reluctant Participants

Dominating participants are members who take control away from the group and insist on everything being done their way.  Reluctant participants don’t speak up, shy away from interacting with the group, and often blend into the background.




Floundering is when the group experiences false starts because they think they know what they are doing, but in reality they are unsure of how to approach the task at hand.



Getting Stuck

Getting stuck refers to the moment when the group hits an obstacle that they are unsure of how to overcome.  It can occur when there is too little progress on the project.



Rush to Work

Rush to work refers to a group member who is less patient and more action-oriented than the others.  This person may reach a decision more quickly and then forge ahead by pressuring the others to move ahead as well before they are ready.




Not everyone is friends with everyone that they work with.  Feuds refers to occasional conflict that carries over into the group.



Ignoring or Ridiculing Others

When someone consistently ignores or makes fun of what others say or criticizes their experience or knowledge.






Adapted from:

Sarkisian, Ellen. "Working in Groups: A Note to Faculty and a Quick Guide for Students." Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. Harvard University, 2010. Web. 16 July 2014.




3 Practice

Activity: Other — Youtube video

As a whole group watch  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq6PgmrkJ4I twice. Project the video so the whole class can see.

The first time you are watching just for content. Tell students that they are to just watch the video and think about what common problems that they see. Students are required to raise thier hand when they see a common problem and explain why they chose that problem.

Student Instructions

We are going to watch this video. The first time we watch we want to think about the common problems that we see. The second time we watch we will raise our hands when we see a common problem. You will have to use text evidence to support which problem you think it is.