The Norman Transcript

January 24, 2014

Group projects build teamwork


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Q: My high school aged son was assigned a group project in one of his classes. His group met at our house several times to work on the project. Watching this develop was interesting for my wife and me.

We are wondering how a teacher can actually grade a group project. It is obvious to us that all participants should not be graded equally.

— Rob, Oklahoma City

Dear Rob,

The purpose of group projects may appear to be just about a certain topic. In reality, the students should be learning teamwork, social skills and that everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

For example, some may be better at research while others’ strengths may lie in presentation or creating visual aids.

Believe it or not, teachers know their students — and when grouping, they place students according to their strengths. When left to their own choosing, students often learn that working with friends is not always the best idea.

To answer your question on how a teacher can grade a group project, students are given specific guidelines when the assignment is made. A rubric is often given so a percentage or number of points necessary is known prior to beginning the project.

Group projects may not be the ideal situation, but the experience is a valuable lesson for all involved. In the long run, several assessments go into a final grade. If a student doesn’t know the material, the grade will reflect this.

We were recently asked a question by a middle-level counselor. She wants to know why parents can’t get their kids to school on time. She wasn’t talking about the rare tardy due to unusual circumstances … she was asking about the frequent tardies — the chronic, habitual, late-to-school child.

Since this question was asked by a middle school educator, we want you to realize the elementary and middle-level students depend on adults to wake them up and see that they are at school on time. As kids get older, the responsibility is more of their own.

If you are a parent who consistently chooses to bring your child to school late, you should be ashamed. If your child is being punished at school for tardies, it is you who should be punished. Not only is it rude to interrupt a class that has already started, but much of the social aspect of school happens in the mornings before class starts.

Quit making excuses. If your child won’t get out of bed, put them in the car in their pajamas and take them to school on time. (Hand them the clothes you choose for them to wear as they get out of the car.)

You are setting a horrible example for your children. Once they begin at the high school level, they begin to lose valuable credit because of excessive tardies/absences, since a specific number of these tardies will count as an absence.

In the real world, what job allows you to be consistently tardy and remain employed? The answer is none. Therefore, this practice doesn’t teach them good habits for their future successes.

Jeannie and Sally are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily represent the views of any certain school district.

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