Group Resume (Community of Learners)

December 2, 2010 at 6:50 am Leave a comment

At AMATYC in Boston I had the chance to preside over a workshop given by Mark Colgan from Taylor University in Indiana. The title of the workshop was “Ten Cooperative Learning Techniques for Building Classroom Communities”. Over the next few Thursdays I will be sharing some of these techniques, with my own spin on them.

As I have said so many times, Day One is the most important day of the semester. You either create the learning environment that you desire or you fail. The class “is what it is” after the first day, and it is quite difficult to change it after that. I am trying to create a community of learners from day one, and everything I do on that first day is designed to get students to connect to a group of classmates and to connect with me as well.

Mark Colgan uses a “Group Resume” activity on the first day of class. Each student in the group fills out their name on the sheet. Then students fill in special characteristics about themselves that are unique from the rest of the group. Finally, the group lists 3 things that they all have in common.

Once the resumes are filled out, the instructor asks each group to list the item from the special characteristics that they feel is most interesting or unique. He also has each group share the 3 things they all have in common. Once he has recorded all of these ideas on the board he has the class vote for the list that they feel is most creative. (I believe there may be some sort of candy prize for the winning group.)

The thing I really liked about this activity, and I did get to see it modeled in the workshop, is that it encourages discussion between students on the first day of class. If you can get students to talk to each other, you can get them to work together, and learn, and succeed.

I usually have students fill out a personal information survey on the first day of class and then put students together in a group. The way I get them to talk is by having them choose a group name. Next semester I plan to include a group activity that is similar to the Group Resume activity. I think their are lots of other options besides those that Mark used, for example I might include some questions on what it takes to be a successful math student.

Let me know what you think of this idea, and let me know if you have tried something similar to this in your classes, by leaving a comment or reaching me through the contact page at my web site –


I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Thursday I will be blogging about the importance of community in the classroom. If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website –


Entry filed under: community, Math. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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