Many NRICH tasks have been designed with group work in mind. Here
we have gathered together a collection of short articles that
outline the merits of collaborative work, together with examples of
teachers' classroom practice.
Instruction led to High and Equitable Achievement: The Case of
by Jo Boaler
This paper introduces the work of a group of equity-oriented
teachers in an inner city school in California, who brought about
amazing progress in mathematics. The teachers used an approach
called 'Complex Instruction', to bring about high achievements and
great enjoyment of mathematics among students.
Here is a video clip of Jo
Boaler talking about Complex Instruction
An example of
Railside School students working on a group-worthy task
A short article by Jo Boaler
Instruction in England - the journey, the new schools, and initial
Boaler, Lori Altendorff & Geoff Kent
The schools in the UK that have moved to a 'Complex Instruction'
approach are in the early stages of moving to a new way of working.
Our observations of the classroom environments, and interviews with
students and teachers, tell us that the changes the teachers are
making have been extremely positive for the students.
Here are two video clips of classes in the UK working on a
For details of the problem used
in these clips, see Counting Cogs
student collaboration in a detracked, heterogeneous secondary
by Megan Staples
This study offers an analysis of one teacher's role in creating a
classroom system that supports collaborative interaction among
students as they work in mixed ability (detracked) groups on
open-ended, non-routine tasks. The analysis focuses on how the
teacher creates some structure to support student collaboration,
but not overly constrain interactions, as students need autonomy to
productively work on non-routine problem solving tasks. The
analysis emphasises the classroom as a system with interrelated
components that provide a set of constraints and affordances for
If you are more interested in the
findings than in the research methodology, you may want to read the
introductory section and then skip to the Results which begin at
the bottom of page 15.
Chapter 1 of "The Elephant
in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn & Love
by Jo Boaler, published by Souvenir Press, 2009.
The book can be purchased
It is also published in the USA by Penguin, under the title:
"What's Math Got To Do With It? Helping Children Learn to Love
Their Least Favorite Subject - and Why It's Important for
The problems published in
are particularly suited to group work. The Teachers'
Notes suggest how they can be used in the classroom, and of course,
a similar approach can be used with many other NRICH tasks.