13 Replies Latest reply on Aug 24, 2012 3:57 PM by JulieSzaj

    Building Your Classroom Community


      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?

        • Re: Building Your Classroom Community

          Here is an activity to get us started. I have used this with students and adults successfully:


          Magic Number 11


          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.

          • Re: Building Your Classroom Community

            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):


            Group Drawing

            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:

            • Drawers. The drawers attempt to recreate one of the pre-drawn designs which they cannot see. They can only draw and listen. They may not talk and they stand with their backs to the group so they cannot receive nonverbal messages.
            • Talkers. The talkers attempt to describe the design to the drawers. The talkers also do not see the design.
            • Viewers. The viewers are the only ones to see the design. They may not talk and must communicate nonverbally. The talkers may question the viewers who must respond nonverbally. The viewers may not draw the design in the air or use any other nonverbal communication which actually shows the design.
            • Re: Building Your Classroom Community

              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.

              • Re: Building Your Classroom Community

                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.

                • Re: Building Your Classroom Community

                  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

                  • Re: Building Your Classroom Community

                    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.


                    Pencil Drop

                    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!

                    • Re: Building Your Classroom Community

                      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.


                      Cross if you….

                      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.