Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Teamwork is a really important part of my class.  I emphasize it all year long.  At the beginning of the yer we work mostly in groups of 2,  As the year progresses, I expand the groups to four.  I don't like to go over that because the teams are too big and 6th grade shenanigans ensue.
We work individually as well, but almost all labs are done as a team.

I teach teamwork just like I teach any other procedure in the class.  We begin on the third day of school.  I do a short teamwork activity called MARBLE RAMPS. I have described this in a PREVIOUS POST.

I have used others in the past also; mostly "tower building" type activities.  Most engineering design challenges can be used as long as the emphasis is on team.  I choose a relatively short and easy activity in order to complete it in one class period.  Since this is the third day of school, I am also still teaching other procedure - how to enter the room, how to get supplies, and so on.  Doing a fun activity like Marble Ramps allows us to learn how teams function, how team members contribute to teams, and what makes teams inefficient.  This also is the first time we glue in our notebooks, so I can teach "dot,dot, not a lot" for gluing. :) 

A typical class period goes like this -
  1. Students come in and check the board (see my post on START OF CLASS PROCEDURES)
  2. I review previously taught procedures, and introduce the teamwork procedure.
  3. I start the lesson and give students about 30 minutes to complete their ramp. (Our class periods are 45 minutes long)
  4. When the ramps are completed we have a class discussion about the pros and cons of groups and talk about what each individual can do to make a group work well.
  5. Students write their thoughts on a graphic organizer and glue it into their science notebooks. This gives me my first opportunity to show them how to glue something in their composition book. Even in 6th grade, this can be an issue.
  6. Then I wrap up class and send them on their merry way.
All of my procedures are provided to students at the beginning of the school year. They are kept in student binders all year long. My group procedure is provided for them and I make sure they understand it before we begin our first team activity.

Partner and Group Work Procedure

Why we have Group Work Procedures:

  • To make sure that all instructions are heard and followed 
  • To be respectful of our neighbors 
  • To keep students safe during activities 
  • To make sure each student has the opportunity to participate in lab activities 

Some of our work is group work,

  1. QUIET talking is allowed during group work. QUIET talking means that the people you are working with can hear what you are saying, but others cannot. 
  2. Of materials or supplies are needed during group work, someone will be assigned to get the supplies. Only one person at from each group is allowed out of their seats at a time. 
  3. Do your fair share of the work. 
  4. Collaborate with your group. That means sharing, learning, participating, and helping EVERYONE in the group. 
  5. Each person in the group will be graded individually, 
  6. Turn to face the teacher during instruction.

I also use group roles or jobs when in teams. I change the jobs to suit the lab, and I change which job a student has with each lab as well. I want them all to have a change to participate in multiple roles multiple times over the course of the year. My roles include: Principal Investigator, Noise Monitor, Neat Freak, Facilitator, Critical Friend, among others

All of my teamwork materials can be found HERE.

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