Thursday, September 1, 2011

I've Got a Feeling

What a great kick off to the year!
As a brief reminder, I am in a new school.  We are a small school with 50 students that is housed inside another school.  The school is only in its second year.  Most of the students are new and the staff is new as well.  What to do on the first day?  Team building!

I think team building is an important way to begin every year, but this year it is especially important.  We are keeping the kids together today and tomorrow and then we will divide them up into advisory periods for the experience/ pbl learning environment we have once we know the kids a little bit better.

Team building activities that we used include:

  • Name Game.  Come up with an adjective that begins with the first letter of your name and an action to go with the adjective.  We went around in a circle introducing ourselves.  This really helped kids remember names better than normal introductions.  We did this as a whole school, and next year I think it would be better in smaller groups.
  • Play-dough People.  Pick an object to represent yourself and shape it out of play-dough.  Everyone then went around and explained why they created what they did.  This was done in small groups and worked really well.  I didn't lead this activity, but a co-worker said all of the kids were really into it and shared some really great things.
  • 2 Truths and a Lie.  Kids write 2 true things and one made up thing on a card.  Then they share the three items and the kids guess which is false.  I gave an example before I gave the kids a few minutes to work on their own responses.  We then went around the circle and kids guessed which was false by holding up 1, 2, or 3 fingers.  This worked really well for background knowledge.  Some kids shared some really personal things.  In the future I would have them all share with an elbow partner first and then open it up to the whole group because due to time constraints some kids did not share.  I also think this would have encouraged deeper discussion between a small group of students.  
  • A variety of physical team building games such as pass the noodle, pass the hula hoop, etc.  These were a lot of fun and broke up some of the more personal sharing times.  It also allowed the kids to work as a team.  In our learning environment this is going to be really important.
  • Letter to a teacher.  At the end of the day we had the kids write a letter to a teacher (or teachers) to share some info with us that we should know.  We recommended things like successful past experiences, topics they were interested in exploring, etc.  These letters were really great and also serve as a great baseline writing sample.
So I am exhausted but happy.  How do you build a team in your classroom?  Do you have any favorite team building activities you use?  I'd love to hear everyone's ideas!

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