Group work in science can be a real headache, and any group size of more than four is a recipe for trouble. Think about it: in an investigation there are only three to four roles that children can carry out measure, record, get resources and do the fair test. After that any spare children either switch off or start disruptive behaviour.
My groups for science investigations have four children and each child has a specific job and a badge indicating chief science measurer, chief science recorder, chief science equipment manager or chief fair tester.
Each person is allowed to offer advice to others, but they must only carry out their own job. It may seem perverse to have eight groups of three or four children rather than five groups of six but it results in fewer arguments about who does what and children develop a sense of responsibility and work more co-operatively.
They love wearing their badges. Differentiation is also easier. For example, one week all those children requiring support in drawing and using a table can be the chief science recorders and given a pre-prepared sheet. Next time, the more able in recording can take that ole*
Rosemary Feasey is a primary science consultant