A few weeks ago, I blogged about Saving Sam, one of my favorite teamwork challenges. It’s one of the activities my kids talk about all year! And, it’s how we begin our discussion to build our teamwork foundation for the year.
In addition to the labs and activities in our science class, I also use Breakout Edu to have students interact with content and practice their teamwork skills. I have even had my classes create student-created Breakout Edu game.
So, how do we continue these conversations surrounding teamwork throughout the year?
Teamwork observations with Google Forms
I love having students observe their peers and evaluate how effectively they are working as a team. Early in the year, before we work in teams, we create our Teamwork T-Charts. This helps us develop common language around our teamwork conversations.
Then, I take my students’ T-chart responses, and put them into this form (make a copy). We use this form throughout the year for teamwork peer, group, and self evaluations.
Students evaluate themselves and their teamwork in different ways. Sometimes it’s through a fishbowl observation (see below), or I’ll set a timer and everyone must freeze and evaluate. Always, at the end of a lab or teamwork challenge, we reflect.
Talking about and reflecting on teamwork is great, although sometimes it’s hard to recognize the nuances of how we work together. When we really want to dig in and analyze how we work in teams, I use a fishbowl observation. This can easily be done as a whole class, or in multiple smaller groups. And, not only is it great for kids, it is also excellent for adult learners and professional development.
Typically, I use a 1:1 ratio, where half are working on a teamwork challenge, and half are observing. At the end of the challenge, students switch roles, and we begin a second challenge. Shorter challenges work best–I aim for short, 5 minute challenges. There are only so many boxes the observers can check, and after they’ve spent a few minutes observing, they may get distracted.
Always end with a debrief
As with any teamwork activity, it is essential to build in reflection at the end. No matter what, this is the most important part! It can be a quick exit ticket, or a more active walk and talk.
Try using these debrief cards as part of a walk and talk (make enough cards for size of class + 5), partner or group discussions, or as quickwrite prompts.
Teamwork is a growing and evolving process, and it’s essential for us to honor and cultivate this journey with our students!