Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Team Building Activity

So my students are probably getting sick of hearing my voice. I'm just guessing. What's the clue? I'm sick of hearing my voice.

I don't know if it's the recent warm weather, the amount of days we've been together, or it's just the normal course of the school year, but I'm tired of tattling, arguing, lack of respect, and lack of team work.

I borrowed several books from the school library to address these issues, and slowly but surely some of them (I hope) are waking up. I changed a few of their seats today, in hopes of calming the issues, and I think it slightly helped. But that doesn't change the fact that they need to work together as a team. In my class, some kids think that their team is their friend on the other side of the room, others think they are a team of one, and a few think they are on my team.

What sparked the activity I'm going to share with you today, was a story about a bundle of sticks. In the story, a teacher asked her students to paint a mural. The kids spent the entire time arguing about what should be on the mural. When the teacher returned, seeing nothing had been accomplished, she asked each of them to pick up a stick. She had one student break his stick. She asked if it was easy to break the stick. He replied yes. She then tied all the sticks together in a large bundle and asked him to break the bundle. When he couldn't, she told them they were like the sticks...together they are strong. She walked away, and when she returned, they had painted a mural of the bundle of sticks.

So today I gave the kids a short activity to see if they could actually act as a team. I had them get out their dry erase boards and turn them upside down. I showed them a series of numbers in the shape of a pyramid on the Promethean Board.
I then gave them 30 seconds to study the numbers. After the 30 seconds, I turned off the screen and had them turn over their dry erase boards. They wrote down the numbers in the correct order as best as they could. 

Next, I turned the screen back on for 15 seconds and had them check their work.  I turned off the screen and asked them to erase their board and turn it back over upside down. They were then instructed to talk to their partner to create a strategy of how together they could get all the numbers correct and in the correct order.

I overheard one student say, "I'll copy you!" And then like wildfire, that was everyone's "strategy". I reminded them that copying isn't going to make the numbers magically appear correct on their dry erase boards. They were all out of ideas. I was shocked. But, I was curious how this would play out.

I repeated the 30 seconds of studying, followed by one minute of writing. They got farther this time, but not by much. I asked them which was easier, working alone, or working with a partner. They all agreed working with a partner.

After that round, I had them talk in their team (of four) to come up with a strategy to make it happen. I put up a new set of numbers, and miraculously, several teams were able to accomplish the task successfully.

If even for a few minutes, I feel that I was able to have my students work together as a team. I was happy. An hour later, I was once again tired of my own voice. *Le Sigh*