My 6 Favorite Group Learning Activities that Help with Student Engagement

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Coming up with group learning activities is always a tightrope walk. It is really easy to make them fall into the realm of one student taking the lead while another is able to skate by without doing much (if anything) at all. However, it is absolutely imperative that our students learn how to work collaboratively with others. Over the years I tried (and failed) at many group learning activities, but some stood out as true winners. Without further ado, these are my favorite group learning activities that help with student engagement.

Give Everyone a Task Board

This group learning activity is designed to have 12 students work together with one group task board in the center of their group. There are different ways to set it up, but this is how we did it:

We used a poster stick for each group member (or group team) and had them write their group number (1-12) on the stick. On a large sheet of paper, we cut out 12 different group numbers and had them make rows 2 above each group’s group number–this way when students walk into the classroom they can right away see which group they are placed in!

We printed off this student board for every group to have. It is important to only have group members answer the questions on their group task board (not the group activity sheet), as this will help focus students’ attention inward toward their group members. There is a multiple-choice question at the bottom of each group member’s individual board that can include one silly answer (“I like sloths because they are cute and awesome.”) as well as one that is incorrect (“I like sloths because they are soooooo slow.”) for each group member to fill out. This can be used for the group members to get to know one another better.

Group learning activities like this work best when the teacher has a simple group number puzzle on their board that group members have to solve. Once group members solve it, they are given their group number and can then write the group’s answer on their group task board.

At this point, we go over each group’s answers together as a whole class. We find the answers to all of our group questions first, taking notes on any group that had a group member answer incorrectly or was missing an answer (for either group member). This step is not mandatory, but I have found it helps to make sure students are listening closely. The more answers groups missed, the closer we take our discussions of their group’s responses.

After this review process, the students work on three group group-learning questions together. The first group activity has group members answering a group question together individually at their group task boards. All group task boards (green) are then collected and placed on the teacher’s board for all students to see when we discuss them as a class.

Then, we go over each group question as a whole class again.

Finally, group members return to their group task boards individually and answer group questions while working with the group. These group questions are answered all together through discussion as a group.

Cold Call Student Presentations (with Pre-made Slides)

This group learning activity is meant to give students exposure to giving presentations in front of the entire group. The group can be based on the entire class or just a small sub-group of it, depending on your group’s size and needs. I have used this activity with an entire group size of 26 students and also with groups as large as two–so it is really flexible!

Group learning activities like this work best if you create the groups ahead of time. I did this by breaking students up into a group of four and had them sit in a group for two days. Then, when it came to group presentations, I had four or five group members each present their group’s presentation together as a group (with pre-made slides) while the rest of the class watched.

Students either present their group’s results as a group or individually, depending on what you want to get out of the group presentation (for example- group results vs. individual group member’s participation). In my experience, I have found that students really enjoy watching group members participate rather than just hear someone talk about “their group,” so this group activity is meant for group participation.

Group learning activities like this are great because it gives students a lot of opportunities to practice different kinds of group participation, especially in front of an audience. In my classroom, we had groups present their group results on the same day they presented this group learning activities project–so some group members got two chances to “practice” group participation in front of the class.

This group activity can either be done for a group-learning question on the board or it can also be used for group learning activities including questions that the students are working on together at their group task boards. If you just want to practice group presentations, create a group number puzzle and have students present individually (start with group number 1, then group number 2, etc.). If you want group members to get group practice as well as group results, create a group question on the board and use that group question for the presentations.

The group task boards (green) are all collected at the end of class so that they can be reviewed together. The rest of the group task boards are then added to the board for group practice.

Group Task Board Answer Review (with Pre-made Slides)

Since most group answers will either be missing an answer or be wrong, I always review group answers in class with group members present. This helps me give feedback and make sure that groups have group members present who are taking group responsibility to answer group questions correctly.

Group learning activities work best if you create the groups ahead of time. I did this by breaking students up into a group of four and had them sit in a group for two days. Then, when it came to group task boards, I handed out group task board packets for each group already done.

Once I collected the group task board packets from students and grouped the group task boards together, we went over each group’s group answers as a class. Students either answer questions individually or as a group (depending on what you want to get out of this group activity), then we revisit the group task board together to check for group accountability on answers.

This group learning activity allows students to review the task boards with the rest of their groups (even if they didn’t participate in that one) and also allows me to quickly and easily make sure that group members are accountable for their answers. It is great because it helps me to group students who are completing work together and it also helps me to group students who are working on group task boards together because they will be reviewing group answers and not just group questions.

Group Task Board Answer Review (with Individual Slides)

This group activity is great for group accountability as well, but this time, instead of group members reviewing group answers as a unit, each member will review their own group answer. Students are given individual group task board packets and complete them independently.

Group learning activities work great if you have students who tend to need help at group task boards or if you do not want to spend time reading group answers aloud (it is pretty time-consuming). I would recommend that you group students beforehand and then group them together in a specific area (so they can collaboratively work on group task boards) so that they are not scattered around the classroom working separately.

Group learning activities like this also give members feedback from their group answers, but it allows some independence for each student group member while still promoting group accountability.

group learning activities

Student Group Task Board Interpretations (with Individual Slides)

This group activity is similar to the group task board answer review with individual slides, but this time, members will present their group task boards and then interpret the group answers together as a group. This group activity works best if you group students beforehand and group them together in a specific area so that they are not scattered around the classroom working separately.

Students will present group task boards to the rest of their group (I know this can be time-consuming, so I made sure that group members were all located in a specific area) and interpret group answers together. This group activity promotes group accountability while still allowing members to have some independence with group task board completion as well as an opportunity for students to work collaboratively together interpreting group answers.

This group activity is great if you want group members to give each other feedback on group task boards and group answers, but the group format of this group learning activity sometimes can be hard for students to complete alone (in my class, it was not a huge deal that they were working separately since they had group task board packets already done, but group learning activities like this one are probably best with students who have group task boards completed beforehand).

This group activity gives group members feedback from their group answers, but it also allows group members to collaborate and discuss group task board answers as well.

Group Task Board Puzzles

Group learning activities work well with group task boards that are high in group questions and low in group answers. This activity is where groups solve word phone puzzles to recreate their group task board. You can choose whether you want students to work individually or collaboratively (or both).

This group activity gives group members feedback from their group answers, but it also allows group members to collaborate and discuss group task board answers as well.

You can group students beforehand or group them together in a specific area so that they are not scattered around the classroom working separately.

This group activity is great for struggling group task board readers because it allows them to work independently and also provides group accountability.

Creating Great Group Learning Activities with the 4 Keys

There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge that releases twice per year. It is called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom. If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.

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