Happy New Year everyone (That is, happy new SCHOOL year)!
As we begin thinking about filling our classrooms with books, pens, pencils, and little bodies, it time to consider how you would like your classroom community to feel this year. Did your students "get along" last year? Would students listen to each other? Did they treat each other in a way that made everyone glad to be there, or is was there room for improvement?
One way to build the community you desire is to add team and community building activities into your schedule. I thought this would be the perfect place to share some of our kid-tested favorites. So how about it, what is your favorite team or community building activity to do with your students?
Here is an activity to get us started. I have used this with students and adults successfully:
In a circle, students hold out a clenched hand. They shake up and down three times and chant, “One, two, three.” On the count of three each puts out a number of fingers. The object: Make the fingers add to 11. No talking is allowed. If teams finish early they try another number. After each success, teammates give each other a pat on the back.
Here is one other to get you started. Again, I have used this with kids and adults. Make sure you take time after the activity to reflect on how group's worked together (especially the listening to other's part):
This activity can be presented and debriefed in a number of different ways. Examples include: teamwork; individual differences, diversity, problem solving or planning. The only equipment needed are some drawings of shapes and a large chalk board or flip chart which is visible to all. Divide the group into three small groups:
I regularly work to build our classroom community. When students are given a turn to "talk" I remind everyone of what appropriate listening requires. Rarely does anyone interrupt - and if/when it happens, another student usually politely reminds the offender.
During class, I try to ensure students are actively engaged in the content. As a result, my students regularly communicate and collaborate. Individuals are always invited to "join our group" - especially those who are quieter. I appreciate such student involvement.
I would love to see your class in action Glen! It would be such a treat! I was wondering, have you ever used the Norms of Collaboration with your students? Here is a link to what I am talking about in case it isn't familiar to you: http://www.adaptiveschools.com/inventories.htm
Do you have any favorite community building activities that you use on a regular basis?
You and anyone interested in the community is welcome to drop in on my classroom any day. I have an "open door policy." Parents, elected leaders, district officials, and local administrators are all told they may drop in at any time in the room. So ... get yourself to Utah and come on by!
Thanks for the link to the Norms of Collaboration. I've reviewed it and am looking foward to seeing if I can find a way to incorporate it in my classroom.
Here are a couple of ideas:
1) Our school motto is "Fly High, Cardinals." We give teams of students a set of materials. They have to work together to create a contraption that will help them "fly high" during the school year, and then they share with their classmates.
2) Students make origami puppets with movable mouths, then create a 1 - 2 minute puppet show with a message/goal for the school year.
At my training session last night we reviewed community building. I created a Google doc with resources and the teachers had to record a community building activity they were going to do with their students. Here is a link in case anyone is interested: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GNtUo6KIUUAUONDQ4XEjAHAc93pw4FluN1t9NcH7Is0/edit
My teachers really enjoyed this team building activity last night. It got everyone up, laughing, and having a good time. I thought I'd share it with you.
Divide participants into teams (whatever size you want - we had groups of 6)
One person is designated as the "catcher" and the rest are the "throwers"
The "catcher" holds out his/her hand, palm side down.
Provide pencils to the throwers to "throw" on the "catchers" hand (top of hand). Pencils must be thrown/dropped from at LEAST 6" away from the hand.
Any pencils that fall off do not count.
Time for 2 minutes. Count to see who has the most pencils on the catchers hand.
The teachers really had a blast doing this. Afterwards we debriefed about the skills needed to be successful, what strategy they used at the beginning vs the end, any tips/tricks they discovered, etc. This one is a definite keeper!
Here is another community building activity I have used with adults and students. I did add a rule that you can't just slide into a seat next to you if you were someone who was moving positions.
Have everyone sit in a circle with you in the center (standing). You can either sit in chairs, or have place markers (bookbags, etc) behind each person.
Name off something you have, have done, or can do (ie “Cross if you have ever jumped out of a plane, if you own a dog, have blue eyes).
Those people that can give a positive answer to the question will cross the circle and find an open seat of someone else that answered positively.
Since you have one less chair then there are people in the group, and you found an opening quickly, there should be one person left in the center. This person then gets to pick the topic.