Last week was my first week in my new school teaching 6th-8th ELL students. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I never thought I would ever teach in middle but I’m actually loving it. I’m very happy about my hard decision I made at the end of last year. But all in all, I feel like it was the right one for me at the time. I’ve been welcomed into this new tribe of passionate teachers and feel right at home already!
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I don’t know if they do this in other middle schools but we were actually given our lesson plans for the first 3 days of school which we were to follow to teach the procedures and rules of our school. Although it doesn’t seem like fun, it’s great that everyone is on the same page in every classroom from the start of the year. Within the lesson plans, there are spaces that simply state “Team Building”. I struggled with this idea for a while, trying to find something that was age/grade level appropriate for my new students but finally remembered a challenge we did as a staff at my old school: The Marshmallow Challenge.
The challenge is pretty simple. You have a certain amount of materials that you must build into a freestanding structure with your team. Students have 18 minutes to communicate, plan and create before the teacher comes around to measure. The marshmallow is the most important piece to the structure because it must be at the very top in it’s original form. Students are encouraged to collaborate as a team to accomplish this goal.
My students quickly came up with a plan, some jotted and sketched the idea out and began to build. While they were building, I roamed around and checked in on teams, making sure everyone had a job and that they were not just sitting there silently working on their own. This was also a great time for me to chat with them and see how they worked as a team. It was a learning experience for me too!
Overall, most (I say most because my 7th graders were not really into it!) of them finished in the 18 minutes and afterwards we had a great discussion about what worked as a team and what didn’t. I’ve done this challenge before in other grade levels, and the outcome is never the same, they all experience and come up with ideas to better their teams for next time.
Have you done this challenge in your classroom or want to give it a shot? I whipped up this helpful direction and sketch sheet for my kiddos to use as they worked in their teams. Grab it for free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!
How do you build teamwork in your classroom? If you do this challenge, I would love to know what your students discussed about about team work afterwards, so please share! If you found this useful and want to share with your other teacher friends, pin the image above!