GEARS – Helps us remember how to design group learning routines for effective and efficient learning.
G – Goal of the group learning must require communication and sometimes collaboration (exchange, ask, build, synthesize, compare). The task cannot be accomplished alone, such as highlighting or silently reading.
E – Evaluation quality criteria are visible so that students can monitor and reflect on their product, progress, and/or process.
A – Agreed upon action pattern or process is memorable (includes action steps, roles, turns, and time limits).
R – Rules ensure that the actions are clear, accessible, rigorous, and relevant for all learners. Rules require students to use the Quality Criteria in their listening and reflection process.
S – Starting Positions are clear and students join the group when prepared to participate. Starting positions physically in the room are identified, within each small group, and the individual with the learning goal are clear.
GEARS ensure that group learning routines are completed by students without teacher assistance. This enables teachers to look and listen to students discussing and problem-solving together. Teachers use group learning time to gather data on student learning and to think about the options for making the next steps in instruction precise and effective.
Provide clarity between expectations for students to complete tasks independently and group learning routines or table talk. See the example below for a simple way to ensure an individual formative assessment and engagement and then peer support to complete and correct the task.