The beehive technique is a teaching strategy that encourages active student participation and collaboration in the classroom. This technique is also known as the ‘buzz group’ or ‘cluster grouping’ technique. I am currently using it with one of my MYP Language and Literature classes as they are in the process of writing argumentative texts during our unit “Game-Changers”.
Let’s have a look at how it can work in a school setting.
Formation of groups: The students are divided into small groups of preferably 3 members. It can be based on any criteria like their interests, skills or grade level. It can also be completely random, by pulling a number from a hat, or finding a matching puzzle piece. I usually create groups through a dedicated brain break activity.
Assigning tasks: The teacher gives an assignment or task to each group. The assignment can be a problem to solve, a topic to research, a project to complete, or any other activity that requires students to work collaboratively. At the moment I am using it as a method for peer feedback and review of each others texts during our writing sessions.
Time limit: The students must complete the given task within a set time limit. The time duration is generally short, say 10-15 minutes depending on the task.
Collaboration: I usually say to the students that they are coming from the perspective of wanting to support each other and develop each others texts, so everyone succeed. The students work together to complete their task. They share their ideas, brainstorm solutions, and come up with a consensus.
I am currently working with the writing process, so I have used BeeHives for 1) Checking format: is the text an argumentative text with a clear thesis, thoughtful arguments and proper intext citations? 2) What is the deeper purpose of the text? Does the purpose come through by the way it’s written?
I have explicitly practiced, with the students, to only give feedback on the specific task at hand. In the beginning they were a bit unfocused and commented everything, but grasped the idea of BeeHives quite quickly.
Presentation: At the end of the task, each group presents their findings or solution to the rest of the class. In my case I gave the groups the chance to share one important finding. It could, for example be, that all of them needed to work on their MLA citations.
The Beehive technique is beneficial in school settings because it encourages active participation, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas among students. It also creates a supportive and inclusive environment that fosters peer learning, builds social skills, and encourages problem-solving skills. This technique can be used across all disciplines and grade levels to enhance learning and increase student engagement.
It tags along with the concept of the HiveMind, the collective knowledge of a group of people. Strong communities are good at tapping into that common knowledge and use the diverse talents of the community or team members. Hare and Woods put forward the thesis in their book The Survival of the Friendliest, that, throughout history, humans thrived because of two skills mainly; our communication and collaboration skills. We are good at those skills when it really matters. BeeHives foster both.