Group work will not be successfull
People set up natural barriers bewteen themselves and the rest of the world. It's a self defense mechanism, and we all do it to a certain extent. If you want teenagers to work together on math, you need to smash through those barriers and give them some common ground.
Most likely your groups will be mixed between sexes, abilities, and more, importantly social cliques. It is most productive to mix the groups in every imaginable way. It gives the kids more life coping skills and promotes an overall unity of classroom as the kids move from group to new group throughout the year.
So how do you get the homecoming queen girl with perfect nails, the fat smelly kid with zits, the loud mouthed football running back, and the multipierced black stained goth chick to pull together as a productive math unit? YOU PLAY A GAME!
There have been a few times where we thought all the kids knew each other and they didn't really need the ice smashing activity, so we skipped it, only to have a whole nine week period pass with no fun and more than a few fights. ICE SMASHING IS ESSENTIAL for group bonding. Never overlook this step if you are serious about having your students learn together.
Here is a partial list of some of the games we have played over the years.
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