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Have you been tapped to lead a group project? You can use some of the same methods that professionals use in the business world. This "critical path analysis" system provides a system for clearly defining a role for each team member and placing time limits for each task. It's a good way to ensure your project is structured and under control.01of 06
First: Identify Tasks and Tools
As soon as you sign up to lead a group project, you'll need to establish your leadership role and define your goal.
- Tools for initial meeting: Paper & pen for recorder, large display board or chalkboard for the leader.
- Call a meeting to hold a group brainstorming session where the group will identify the goal or the desired outcome. This will ensure that every member understands the assignment. Ask group members to name every task and tool needed.
- Assign a recorder to take notes.
- Don't try to be too structured during this brainstorming session to give every member an equal voice. Be open to the possibility that one or two people may have several good suggestions, while others may not have any.
- As the team brainstorms, write the ideas on the display board for all to see.
Sample Assignment, Tools and Tasks
An example of an assignment: The teacher has divided her civics class into two groups and asked each group to come up with a political cartoon. Students will choose a political issue, explain the issue, and come up with a cartoon to demonstrate a view on the issue.
- Choose person to draw
- Buy tools for cartoon
- Come up with positions on specified issues
- Research individual issues
- Research role and history of political cartoons
- Present possible cartoon topics
- Vote on best topic
- Write a paper describing chosen topic and view
- Write a paper giving overview of political cartoons
- Design possible cartoons
- Vote on cartoon
- Write analysis of cartoon
- Colored markers/paints
- Paint brushes
- Paper for presentations
- Samples of political cartoons in history
- Slide film
- Slide projector
AssignTime Limits and Begin a Diagram
Assess time needed for every task.
Some tasks will take a few minutes, while others will take several days. For example, choosing a person to draw the cartoon will take a few minutes, while buying the tools will take a few hours. Some tasks, like the process of researching the history of political cartoons, will take several days. Label each task with its projected time allowance.
On the display board, draw the first stage of a diagram for the project path to demonstrate this first meeting. Use circles to indicate starting and finishing points.
The first stage is the brainstorming meeting, where you are creating a needs analysis.04of 06
Establish Order of Tasks
Assess nature and order for tasks to be completed and assign a number for each task.
Some of the tasks will be sequential and some will be simultaneous. For example, the positions should be well-researched before the group can meet to vote on a position. Along the same lines, someone will have to shop for supplies before the artist can draw. These are sequential tasks.
Examples of simultaneous tasks include research tasks. One task member can research the history of cartoons while other task members research specific issues.
As you define tasks, expand your diagram showing the "path" of the project.
Note that some tasks should be placed on parallel lines, to show that they can be done simultaneously.
The path above is an example of the project plan in progress.
Once a good project path is established and diagrammed, make a smaller reproduction on paper and provide a copy for each team member.05of 06
Assign Tasks and Follow Up
Assign students to carry out specific assignments.
- Divide the work according to students' strengths. For instance, students with strong writing skills may be teamed up with students who research well. Those students can focus on one issue together.
- Meet with each task group as the task is completed.
- As the team leader, you will need to follow up with each team/member to make sure the tasks are completed on time.
This path analysis system provides a system for clearly defining a role for each team member and placing time limits for each task.06of 06
Dress Rehearsal Meeting
Schedule a group meeting for a dress rehearsal.
Once all tasks are completed, have the group meet for a dress rehearsal of the class presentation.
- Make sure your presenters are comfortable with speaking in front of a class.
- Test any technology that will be used, such as slide projectors.
- Remind everyone of the importance of arriving early.
- If possible, leave presentation materials in the classroom. Don't take the risk of a team member leaving something at home.
- Finally, thank the team for their hard work!