KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU
7 Essential Skills for Teamwork
7 Essential Skills for Teamwork
This list is used during the research cycle to observe how well a team is
The students in this team listen to each other's ideas. You will observe the students "piggy-
backing" (or building) off each other's ideas.
The students in this team question each other. You will observe the students interacting, discussing,
and posing questions to all members of the team.
The students in this team use persuasion. You will observe the students exchanging, defending, and
The students in this team respect the opinions of others. You will observe the students encouraging
and supporting the ideas and efforts of others.
The students in this team help each other. You will observe the students offering assistance to each
The students in this team share. You will observe the students offering ideas and reporting their
findings to each other.
The students in this team participate. You will observe each student contributing to the project.
Activities - Dividing Into Small Groups
Try some of these ideas when you want to add some fun and challenge to the process of dividing into
Dividing Into Pairs
Opposites Attract. Ask each person to pair up with someone who is different from them in some
way, examples: male/female; tall/short; blond/brunette; blue eyes/brown eyes; etc.
Commonalities. Quickly make a series of statements and ask participants to raise their hand if this
is true of them. The first two people to raise their hands are partners and do not respond to any
more statements. In the case of ties, move on to the next question. Sample statements: my favorite
color is red; I am a Pisces; I am a basketball fan; I have blue eyes; etc.
First Names. Have everyone count the number of letters in their first name. Now ask them to find
someone who has the same number of letters. Those two are now partners. If a a person can't find
someone let him/her use another name s/he is called by (i.e., a student named Matthew may use the
name Matt and then look for someone with 4 letters instead of 7.) If they still can't find someone pair
up with a person who has the closest number of letters.
Line Ups. Group lines up according to any variable you can think of to use. Examples are: oldest to
youngest; tallest to shortest; alphabetically by first or last name; chronologically by month and date
of birthday. If you want to add challenge to the process, do not allow people to talk. The two people
at the ends of the line become partners, the next two become partners, etc.
Finding "Twins". Decide ahead of time on a category such as animals, famous people, occupations,
emotions, sports, etc. and prepare slips of paper with specific examples of the category you have
chosen. Make two slips for each example (one set of three for an odd number). After distributing the
slips, each person makes a noise associated with the example and/or performs a movement. The
group circulates until partners have been found.
Name That Partner. Divide the group in half based solely on seating. Ask each group to name an
example of a category (same as the above categories) that starts with A and name one person as
that example. Continue through the alphabet until everyone has a name. Don't skip any letters. The
A's, B's, C's, etc. become partners.
Picture Puzzles. Cut pictures from a magazine so that there are half as many pictures as members
of the group. If you have a theme try to find pictures related to the theme. Cut each picture in half
and mix them up in a hat. Each person takes one piece and partners are those whose pieces form a
Pick a Number. Ask everyone to pick a number between 1 and (choose the upper number
depending on the size of your group). Those who have picked the same number become partners. If
only one person chooses a particular number, as them to choose another number.
Dividing Into Groups
Cries of Animals. This game is filled with laughter and fun with the intention of forming the
participants into a groups of 4 - 10. Before one could conduct this game, he or she needs to write the
names of animals (cow, cat, pig, etc). Once the group is ready to play, distribute these written slips
of paper to all. Let the participants not show their slip to another person as this needs be top most
secrete. Then tell the group to make the sound of the animal that they have on the slip and form a
family of the same animal (in one corner of the hall) carefully listening to the similar sounds from the
others. In this way, it would be easy to form the participants into groups.
Contributed by Madhu Sagili
Values Clarification. Present the group with a value statement related to the theme of the event.
Ask them to arrange themselves in a line from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree. Encourage
discussion so each person is in the right place in line. Count off my 2's for diverse groups or divide in
half for more homogeneous groups.
Shake, Rattle and Roll. Take as many film cannisters as you have people. In each film cannister,
put an object. The objects you pick can be like the following: cotton balls, pennies, paperclips, jelly
beans, m&m's, etc. If you have 30 people and you want to divide them into three groups of 10 each,
you would place a cotton ball in 10 of the cannisters, a paperclip in 10 of the cannisters, and a penny
in 10 of the cannisters. Each individual then picks a cannister from a bag, basket or some other
container. They can not look or smell in the cannister. They can only shake the cannister to
distinquish the different sounds of the objects. The object is for the individual to find persons in the
group with a like sounding object and stay with that group. There are many variations on this game. I
call it, "Shake, rattle, and roll". Enjoy!
Contributed by: Susan Markley, MS, CTRS
Form A Band. Each band must have a drummer, guitar player, keyboard player and singer. Then
they mime out their band, complete with air instrumentation. Then all of the dummers are in one
group, all singers in another, etc. You can create as many band members as you need groups. (above
example gets you four groups). Similarly, you can do the same with a baseball (any sports) team. I've
done it with pitchers, catchers, hitters, outfielders and hot dog salespeople. This gets five groups.
These are good for kids, and also kind of fun for adults, lets them play.
Contributed by: Jen Hall
Blue Sky. Have people, on the count of "Blue Sky," hold up anywhere from one to ten fingers.
"Green fields, red earth, blue sky. Go!" All the people holding up an even number of fingers on one
side, odd fingers on the other
Pictures. Give each student a card with a different kind of ball or sporting equipment picture on it.
Students are to find the person(s) with the equipment that matches theirs. Of course you can use any
category for this (i.e., dogs, cars, birds).
Playing Cards. Decide how many groups you want and what size. For example, if you would like to
have 5 groups of 5 and you wanted to randomly put them into groups then get 5 Kings, 5 Aces, 5 2's,
5 Jacks, and 5 Queens (of course you will need more than one deck of cards) and shuffle them up.
Pass them out and match up the five who get the Kings, Queens, etc.
Arm/Finger Cross. 1) Have everyone cross their arms across their chest. Amazingly (at least I was
amazed) it almost always works out to about 50% cross right over left, and the other 50% cross left
over right. 2) Have students close their eyes and then put their hands together so their fingers are
interlocking and their palms are touching each other. Have them open their eyes and look down at
their hands. If their right thumb is on top then they are one team and if their left thumb is on top
then they go to the other team.
Barnyard. Students are each given one tongue depressor marked with the name of an animal (i.e.,
cow, pig, chicken, horse, etc.). (The number of different animals used depends on how many groups
you want to form.) On signal and staying within a marked boundary, students begin to move around
general space using a leader determined locomotor movement (slow movements work best). While
students are moving around they are to make the sound of the animal on their tongue depressor.
Students "look" (listen) for anyone of the same animal category and hook up with them. Continue
moving through space until all of your animal buddies have been found and are all together. Students
should keep their tongue depressors in their hand but they shouldn't show it to anyone. Do not allow
"human" communication for this activity.
Finding "Clones". Similar to Finding "Twins" above. Decide on the general category (say, animals)
and the number of small groups you want to have (say, four). In this example you would give each
person a slip of paper with an animal name (say, horse, dog, cat or cow). Everyone starts making
their animal's sound and finds the other members of their group.
Rainbow. This activity works for dividing into up to seven groups. Decide how many small groups
you want and ask people to divide themselves into groups with this number of people. Give them the
colors of the rainbow, or ask for someone who knows them, and have each group assign one person
to each color, starting with red. They are to stop when each person has a color. Groups are formed
by people of the same color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
Seven Dwarfs. Have individuals get into groups of seven and have them each label themselves a
dwarf. This in itself can be hard to them to get all the dwarfs right. Then tell them to disperse into
groups of like-dwarfs bringing all the Doc in one groups, all the Sleepys in another group and so on.
Hair Bands. To help identify groups/teams give students small hair bands to wear on their wrists
(they fit perfectly). Have 4-6 colors so then you can divide the group up anyway that you need to.
Getting Kids to Work Together
Sound and Action Games
Zoom. Standing in a circle, students orally pass the word "zoom" around from one person to
another. The activity moves rapidly to build and sustain community involvement. Variations
include switching directions, multiple zooms at one time, students leading zoom, standing in
shapes other than a circle and using other words to build vocabulary. The first time, have
students sit in a circle with their legs crossed, sitting up straight with their hands in their laps.
Model this posture, and ask the students to have their knees touch their neighbors' knees to
form a tight circle.
In-Motion. This game is similar to mirroring, except that in addition to movement, it
incorporates sounds and more extensive movements. In the beginning, a suggested rule is,
"Keep your feet on the ground and stay where you are standing." One person (initially the
teacher) conducts an action involving both movement and sound. Everyone repeats the
model, then another person in the circle models an action with everyone repeating. The order
can be determined by proceeding around the circle or from a caller who selects the next
Fruit Basket. The class sits in a circle on chairs, with one person standing in the middle.
Participants are equally divided between three fruits (such as apples, oranges and
pineapples). When the middle person calls out a fruit (e.g., "apples"), all the apples change
chairs, including the middle person. The person "out" becomes the next caller. If a caller says
"fruit basket" all participants have to change chairs.
Language and Word Games
20 Questions. Most people remember this game from childhood; in it, one person picks
something to be, like a famous person or an animal, and then the rest of the kids ask yes/no
questions until someone guesses who that person is. It's a great way to keep kids focused
when they have to stand around waiting or are moving between places. Here's a tip: If one kid
is starting to act up a bit, put him in charge of the game or have him go first. It will bring him
back on track.
Frozen-in-Motion. The leader and participants sit on their chairs. Initially, have the participants
feel the floor, feel the chair and feel the space they are in. This can be done with eyes open or
closed. Participants are then directed to feel and replicate an emotion, such as boredom,
surprise or anger. The leader (the teacher or a student) then says, "Freeze!" Everyone
freezes like statues, and the leader now says, "We are in the museum of boredom" (or
surprise or anger, whatever the selected emotion is). The leader selects one person to hold
his or her frozen pose and be the "statue" and everyone else focuses their attention on that
person. Ask the class to describe different aspects of the statue, such as the posture or facial
set. This is a great exercise for training observation skills and is good for building enhanced
vocabulary for writing.
Proverbs. Take some standard 3"x5" index cards and write on them a number of famous
quotes or proverbs that reflect the core values of your center. Make two cards for every quote,
and be sure that the quotes are appropriate for the age and reading level of your kids. Bring
the cards to class, and distribute them face down to the kids, either by passing them out at
random or by letting them select from a box. Have everyone read the cards silently to
themselves. Now tell them that everyone in the room has someone with the same quote; ask
them to find that person and talk about what the quote means. (If you have an odd number of
children in the group, use a card yourself.)
Let the kids mingle and talk to each other, sharing the quotes until they find their partner.
Make sure they understand that it's not a race. Once all the students have found their
counterparts, have them return to their seats. You can stop now or continue discussing it as a
group. Try asking questions like, "What strategy did you use to find the other person?" or
"What does your quote mean to you in your personal life?" Try this activity using other things
written on the cards, such as characters or quotes from books you read during the year.
Behavioral Games for Very Young Children
Have kids take a piece of tape when they come in every day and put it on their chairs. That's
their "spot." If you have the need to calm things down during the session or transition from
one activity to another, tell everyone, "Let's sit on our spots!" When they get there say, "Let's
freeze on our spots."
Have everyone stand up. Give each child two pieces of easily removable tape about 8" long
to put on the floor in an X shape. Tell them, "This is your spot. Can you stand on it please?"
Now ask them to do various motions, such as, "Can you stand on one leg on your spot?" or
"Can you touch your spot with three parts of your body?" or "Can you hold hands with
somebody on another spot while still touching yours?" Do four or five variations. When
finished, be sure to say, "Let's all clean up our spots" and have them remove the tape from
the floor and throw it away.
Grade Level(s): 6-8
By: R.L, Grade 6 Teacher
Students will learn how to work in groups.
Students will be able to define teamwork.
Students will work together to brainstorm 3/4 words that teamwork means to them.
Students will develop three or four positive guidelines for working in a group together.
Name teams in your city or region. (Examples: Name the Toronto Argos, Blue Jays, Maple Leafs
Ask the class what they have in common? They are all teams.
What does it mean to be a team? To be able to work together to succeed. We review what it means
to succeed and have goals.
Put students in group with piece of paper and marker. Each group is to brainstorm 3 to 5 words that
mean teamwork to them. (5 minutes)
Go over some of the words on the front board.
Each group is to come up with their own definition of teamwork - in a sentence or two what does
team work mean to them. (10 minutes)
Go around the class ask each group to read their definition.
Each group will come up with three guidelines for working in groups which will help all groups
succeed. (5 minutes)
Go around class reading rules.
Each group will trace their hand on the piece of paper and put their name in it. Each group will put
their definition of team work on the bottom of the Bristol board.
The boards will be placed on a wall in the room. They are colorful and look great when parents or
administrators come into the room!
Teamwork means we have to be able to work together to share a common goal.
This lesson should take 45 minutes to an hour. It is a great way to get students working together.
Use different color markers and Bristol board. They look great in the classroom - class made
Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): Getting to Know Each Other
Part of working together as a class is the feeling of familiarity and class identity. One way to
help improve relations among students is though get-to-know-you activities such as Inner-
Outer Circle. Many of these activities can be refined to be used as mastery-learning activities
when content is inserted into their structure.
The Inner Outer Circle:
Have students stand in a big circle. Every other person should take one giant step inside the
circle and turn around facing those in the outer circle. In other words, there should be two
circles with the outer circle people facing inward and the inner circle people facing outward,
and everyone should be face to face.
The teacher should generate a number (10 is plenty) of questions that will reflect the personal
interests and experiences of the students. This may need to be adapted to the students' age and
grade level. Some possible questions include:
1) What was the best movie you saw over the summer and why did you like it?
2) What qualities make a good friend, teacher, sibling?
3) What is the most embarrassing experience you ever had involving your parents?
4) Rate President Clinton's performance as president to the best of your knowledge.
Include at least one good reason why you rated him the way you did.
5) What TV show do like or dislike and why?
6) Should the legal drinking age be lowered to 18 years old? Support your opinion.
7) If you could choose any one, which occupation do you think would be the best to
have? The worst?
8) Name three things you like about living in your home town. Now name three things
9) What kind of parent do you think you will be when you get older?
10) What is the most fun you have ever had at school?
For each question, students should exchange information with the person facing them. Then
have either circle move a certain number of people to the left or right. So the teacher says
after every question: "Inner circle move ___ (insert number) to the left (or right). The outer
circle is then given a chance to rotate as well. A question is asked for every rotation.
Continue until questions run out.
A Cooperative Discussion Activity (Instructional Input): "Take A Stand"
A) Develop a number of discussion questions based on your lesson dealing with issues. These
issues might include:
Where Do You Stand Discussion Questions
1) The death penalty is an effective way of reducing the murder rate in America.
2) An increasing number of Americans are voicing their opposition to abortion.
3) Marijuana has been proven to reduce pain in medical situation and should be
legalized for that purpose.
4) Martin Luther King's dream of equality for all Americans is closer to reality than
5) The American people have less faith in their government than anytime since
6) The US has a moral responsibility to spread peace and democracy to other nations
in the world.
7) If I were a parent of a teenager, I would let them watch any TV shows or listen to
any CDs that they wanted to.
8) The only reason a person should own a gun in their home is to go hunting with it.
9) Teachers make enough money because they get summers off, so taxes should not
be raised to pay them more money.
10) Bill Clinton should go to jail for having an affair with Monica Lewinsky.
11) It was right for Richard Nixon to be impeached for his role in the Watergate
12) Ronald Reagan's face should be added to Mt. Rushmore since he helped shrink
the federal budget's debt.
B) Place a large card in each corner of the room that says one of the following:
Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly
("I am way down wid dat!") (I can dig it, sorta...) (I'm not down wid dat!) (No way
Am I down with dat!)
C) Have students write their response on scrap paper before physically moving to either
corner of the room. This prevents the "herd instinct" from taking over. The allow them to
stand under the card that best fits their opinion.
D) Have students discuss their viewpoints according to where they stood.
Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): Active Listening
A) Have students break into pairs.
B) Allow students to share information regarding a personal experience for exactly one
minute. The speaker has one minute to talk while the listener may not say anything or interact
with the speaker except for nods and "empathic grunts" ("uh-huh, I see..") After the minute
expires, have the listener share the information with the class to see if s/he was actually
Then have students switch with the other member of the pair doing the talking. Allow for
discussion time afterwards.
Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:
I. student verbal evaluation of the activity itself.
Fear in a Hat
A good activity to run at the beginning of a class semester, Fear in a Hat (Also known as
Worries in a Hat) is a teambuilding exercise that promotes unity and group cohesion.
Individuals write their personal fears (anonymously) on sheets of paper which is then
collected in a hat and read aloud. Each person tries to describe his or her understanding of the
person’s fear. This leads to good discussion centered around the fears.
This teambuilding exercise requires writing utensils, sheets of paper, and a hat. Allow about
five minutes of writing time, plus one to two minutes per participant. The recommended
group size is at least eight, but no larger than 20. It’s possible to run this activity with a large
group, if the group is divided into smaller groups and if there are enough facilitators. This
activity is for people ages 14 and up.
Setup for Fear in a Hat
Distribute a sheet of paper and a writing utensil to each person. Instruct them to anonymously
write a fear or worry that they have. Tell them to be as specific and as honest as possible, but
not in such a way that they could be easily identified. After everyone is done writing a
fear/worry (including the group leaders), collect each sheet into a large hat.
Running the Fear in a Hat Teambuilding Activity
Shuffle the sheets and pass out one per person. Take turns reading one fear aloud, and each
reader should attempt to explain what the person who wrote the fear means. Do not allow any
sort of comments on what the reader said. Simply listen and go on to the next reader.
After all fears have been read and elaborated, discuss as a whole group what some of the
common fears were. This teambuilding exercise can easily lead to a discussion of a team
contract, or goals that the group wishes to achieve. This activity also helps build trust and
unity, as people come to realize that everyone has similar fears.
Personal Trivia Baseball
Personal Trivia Baseball is an icebreaker game that involves guessing facts of various
difficulty levels to obtain singles, doubles, triples, and home runs. This game helps people
discover facts about each other in a fun way.
This get-to-know-you game is played with two teams of about six to eight people each. The
recommended location for this game is indoors. Materials required are: several sheets of
paper and pens. Personal Trivia Baseball is playable by ages 10 and up, including college
students and adults in corporate settings.
Setup for Personal Trivia Baseball
This game should be played with two teams. Divide the players into two teams of about six to
eight people — other team sizes are possible but less ideal, as the game may be too short or
too long. You can increase or decrease the number of sheets accordingly, depending on how
long you want the game to last.
To prepare for the game, pass out four sheets and a pen to each player. Instruct each person to
write “S” on the first sheet, “D” on the second, “T” on the third, and “HR” on , the fourth.
These letters stand for single, double, triple, and home run, respectively. On each of these
sheets, each person writes an interesting fact about themselves. Do not write any names on
the sheets, because the goal of the game is to guess whose fact is written on each sheet. The
fact written on the single (”S”) sheet should be the easiest to guess; the double (”D”) sheet
should be a little harder to figure out; the triple (”T”) even harder; and the home run (”HR”)
should be the hardest.
Once everyone is finished writing their clues, collect them and sort them into four piles per
team: singles, doubles, triples, home run. Shuffle all the papers and arrange the piles into four
different corners of the room, in the shape of a baseball diamond (see image below).
Playing Personal Trivia Baseball
The way Personal Trivia Baseball is played is similar to normal baseball rules. Each team has
three “outs” per inning and tries to score as many runs as they can. On a turn, a player
chooses to go for a single (easiest), double, triple, or home run (most difficult). He or she
picks a sheet from the other team’s piles, reads it, and then guesses which of the people on
the other team wrote the fact. Once he or she makes a guess, the guessed person on the other
team simply says “yes” or “no”. If the guess is correct, the person successfully gets on base
with a single, double, triple, or home run and moves to that part of the room. If the guess is
incorrect, then the team adds another “out”. Move on to the next batter and repeat until there
are three outs. Once there are three outs, change to the other team and repeat. Keep track of
the number of runs each team has scored.
Keep playing until all the clues are revealed, or for a shorter game, set a time limit or a set
number of innings. The winner is the team with the higher score at the end.
This is a variation on the Criminal Dealings game. Same set up with a deck of
cards. Choose the number of cards needed according to the number of
players. Be certain that the Queen of Spades is in the deck. All players draw
cards. The player who chooses the Queen of Spades is the murderer.
Throughout the other activities, the murderer kills victims by winking at
them. When someone catches the eye of the killer and is winked at, they are
killed and (here is the fun part) can die in any manner they want. Some die
quietly by dropping over; others die in a dramatic finale.
The object of all other players is to a) not get killed and b) try to identify the
I think you can make a case for using this in Writing - about the experience,
about fear and anticipation and how that clouds activities, about processing
fear, relaxing, then being alert again, etc.
Submitted by GwenEllyn
Name Tag Match Maker
Each group member will need a 5" x 7" card for a name tag. Then give the
1. Put your name in the center of your card.
2. In the upper left corner, write four things that you like to do.
3. In the upper right corner, write your four favorite singers or groups.
4. In the lower left corner, write your four favorite movies.
5. In the lower right corner, write four adjectives that describe you.
When everyone finishes, have them mingle with the group for a few
minutes. Without talking, they are to read the upper left corner of the
other group members' cards. When time is up, they are to find one or
two people who are most like them and visit for a few minutes. When
time is up, they are to mingle again reading the upper right corner of
the other group members' cards. They then find the one or two people
most like them and visit. Repeat with the lower left corner and lower
right corner information.
To make sure everyone visits with several people, you could
implement a rule that no two people can be in the same group more
Knots of People
Divide the group into teams of 8 to 12 members. Have each person join right
hands with another person in the group, but it has to be someone who is
NOT standing immediately to the left or right. Then have each person join left
hands with another person in the group, but it has to be someone who is
NOT standing immediately to the left or right and someone other than
Now the groups have to untangle themselves without letting go of
hands. They may have to loosen their grips a little to allow for twisting
and turning. They may have to step over or under other people. The
first group to untangle their knot is the winner.
SPECIAL NOTE: There are four possible solutions to the knot.
1. One large circle with people facing either direction.
2. Two interlocking circles.
3. A figure eight.
4. A circle within a circle.
Who Am I?
For this activity you will need one sticky note per person. On each note write
the name of a celebrity, political figure, cartoon character, book character,
etc. You can choose one category or mix them up. Use a different person for
Place a sticky note on the back (or forehead) of each participant. The
participants are to figure out who they are, but can only do so in the
following manner. Find a partner and read each other's sticky notes.
You may ask the other person three questions to which there are yes
or no answers.
Once your questions have been asked and answered, make a guess as
to your identity. If you are correct, move the sticky note to your chest
and you become a "consultant" who gives clues to those still trying to
figure out their identities. If you are not correct, find a new partner
and repeat the process.
SPECIAL NOTE: Be sure to choose characters that are appropriate to
the age of the participants to avoid "generation gap frustration."
There is some preparation for this activity. On a slip of paper, write the name
of an animal that makes an obvious noise. Create five to ten slips for each
Give each participant a slip of paper, but tell them to keep their animal
a secret. The participants are to find the rest of their kind, but there is
no talking. So how do they find the others? They have to make the
noise of the animal. Once two of the same kind have found each other,
they stay together to find more. Continue until all of the like animals
have created one big group.
Use Animal Scramble, but add a hint of danger by planting a couple of
danger animals who if incorrectly approached can take you out of the
game ( snake, lion, tiger, etc). The last survivor of non-dangerous
animals is winner (Non-dangerous animals need to gather say 4 of a
kind to be safe in a pack; they can even fake being a dangerous
animal but cannot take out anyone - someone catches onto this and
the fun begins!)
ACTIVITIES FOR THE
FIRST DAYS OF
Here are some activities you can do with students on the first day
back to school. Some are fun, some are valuable as learning
tools, and some are both.
This is something that often gets overlooked. Although the students
know your name, they do not know you. Let them know some things
about you. Let them know where your grew up, where you went to
school, your teaching background and how long you have been
teaching. (Unless it is your first year. I have discovered that middle
schoolers love to torment first year teachers. Do not lie about being
new, but do not tell them unless they ask. My teaching partner
counted student teaching as her first year so you she would not have
to tell them it was her fist year.) Do not forget to tell them about your
family. The students will see you as a real person if you share
something about yourself.
Create a Who Is Your Teacher? bulletin board to use with your
I teach various social studies subjects at Keystone Heights Jr/Sr High
School in Keystone Heights, Florida. We are a 1200+ student, 7-12
public school in Northeast Florida. Since we are a relatively small
school in a close-knit community I often "know" the students in my
class prior to them actually being in my class, and in turn they think
they "know" me.
As an icebreaker/opening activity we do a tried and true activity, KWL,
with the topic being "Mrs. Honour" For those unfamiliar with the activity,
the students make a list of things they already "K"now about the topic,
things they "W"ant to know about the topic and after the "lesson" the
students list what they have "L"earned about the topic. We generally get
a pretty good list going about what they know about me (common
knowledge) .... I drive a green mini-van, I shop at Food Lion, I have two
children who go to this school.... Then we get a list of what they want to
know... in the past, the students have wanted to know what do I do for
fun, what kinds of music do I listen to, and if have I ever met anyone
Now for the lesson... I prepare a list of facts about myself, ranging from
where I was born to I manage my own fantasy baseball team, and other
similarly "interesting" facts.. I fold each one and put them all in my fact
jar. I have a large piece of white butcher paper taped to the board with
my name circled in the center. (this introduces the freeform concept
mapping activity I use regularly in class) I ask for volunteers and one by
one the students illustrate the fact and students guess what it is... when
someone gets in right, they illustrate the next fact... Each class produces
a free form map of me! I tell them that they will need to learn this
valuable information about me.
The next day - I leave all the classes maps of me up, and pass out a 20
question "quiz" in multiple choice format, and tell them to feel free to use
the "visual resources" on the wall. Auughhhh a quiz on the second day,
they groan.... good news for them is that after I "grade" the quizzes, I
return them the next day with a coupon attached... I grade the quiz
based on 10 questions and for every question they get right over the 10,
they get a coupon worth that many extra credit points on a real quiz!
We then go back to the KWL list and I have each class contribute 3 new
things they know about me... So now, the mysterious teacher at the front
of the class seems to be more like a real person to everyone, and for
homework they are to create their own free-form concept of themselves
(7-10 facts illustrated on a 81/2X11 unlined paper), and viola, I have
great "stuff" for a bulletin board just in time for open house.
Submitted by Nicole Honour
Have the students introduce themselves to you. Try to remember as
many names as possible. I turn it into a game for myself. During the
first week, I play "Name That Student" at the end of each class. I take
a class roster with me and move around the classroom trying to guess
each student's name. I work around the room as many times as time
allows. On the last day of the week, I put the class roster away and
work from memory. My goal is to know every student's name by the
end of the first week, and this game usually allows me to accomplish
Create a seating chart as soon as your class list is final. Be sure to
allow for flexibility, the first chart will more than likely have some
flaws. Even if you do not plan to use a seating chart throughout the
year, it will help you learn the students' names if you use one the first
few weeks of school. If remembering names is a problem for you, put
the students in alphabetical order for the first seating chart. Most
teachers alphabetize by the last name; try alphabetizing by the first
Other ideas for seating charts
Icebreakers and Energizers
Present some "getting to know you" activities for the students. They
will get to know one another, and you will get to know them. You will
also be able to see how they work together as a group so you can spot
potential problems and work toward solutions. Visit the Icebreakers and
Create a crossword puzzle using classroom rules or policies as the
clues. The Criss-Cross Puzzle at Discovery School's Puzzlemaker will make
the puzzle for you; you just need to enter the information.
Hidden Message Puzzle
Create a different word search puzzle with a hidden message for each
student. The hidden messages can be rules or policies for your
classroom or positive words of encouragement for the new year. The
Hidden Message Word Search Puzzle at Discovery School's Puzzlemaker will
make the puzzle for you. You tell it what the message is to be and
what words you want the students to find.
Write your rules or policies in hieroglyphic and have the students
decode them. Use the Cheops Hieroglyphic Transformer at Egypt's
Tourism Net to make your message. A letter to hieroglyphic guide is
available as well. You can use the online version or download a
program for use on your computer. (You could also write the students'
names in hieroglyphic and have the students try to find their names.)
Another site is How to Write Your Name in Mayan Glyphs. The directions
are a little more difficult, but its still fun.
Policy and Rule Question and Answer Match
Write questions that students might have about your policies and rules
on index cards. Write the answers on cards of a different color. Pass
them out to the students and have them try to match questions to
answers. You will accomplish three goals with this activity. First, your
students will become familiar with your rules and policies. Second,
your students will get to know each other. Third, you will be able to
see which students are shy and which ones do not interact well with
Preview the Textbook
Pass out the textbooks and let the students preview them so they can
see what to expect. Create a "worksheet" that requires the students
look over the table of contents, index, and glossary. Ask general
questions about the topics you will cover during the year. While the
students are working on the assignment, you can officially check out
Give a pretest to determine the class's strengths and weaknesses. This
will help you plan lessons throughout the year. You will know which
areas to skim over and which ones to cover thoroughly.
Check Out Books from the Classroom Library
If you teach language arts, have the students check out books from
your classroom library. Be sure to go over the procedure for checking
out books and returning them. A few students at a time can check out
books while the others are working on another activity. The students
will now have something to take home the very first day.
Even if you posted the supply list before school began, go over the
supply list with the students and explain why they need the uncommon
items. Give a deadline for having supplies at school.
If you want the students to have a certain organizational method for
their notebooks and materials, do this the first day. Be sure to have a
supply on hand of simple materials such as dividers, paper, folders,
spiral notebooks, etc. for those students who are not prepared the first
day. They can then pay you back when they get their materials.
Hopefully, most students will pay you back.
Student Made Bulletin Board
Have the students create something for a student made bulletin board.
For example, give each student a puzzle piece cut from posterboard or
tagboard. Have each student decorate her puzzle piece to show her
unique qualities. Items to include are name, hobbies, interests, and
family. Provide magazines and clip art for the students to use if they
are not artistic. Student can work on this while you are checking out
materials, assigning lockers, etc.
At the beginning of the year I like to have my students participate in
an activity that will last the entire year. Each child receives a square
made of material that they decorate according to a theme (such as
Olympics) that includes their name. Those squares are then sewed
together to make a curtain, room divider, or wall hanging for the entire
year! The last time I made one the students chose a state that started
with the same letter as their name, researched the state, and included
some information about that state through pictures. I completed the
quilted curtain by sewing in some red and blue pieces to accent their
Submitted by Carleen Megow -- Springton Lake Middle School Gr.7
Learning Support Teacher
Student Information Card
Use you computer to create student information cards. You can get
four cards on each sheet. Run copies on cardstock and cut them apart.
File this in a box for future reference. Items to include are name,
address, phone number, birthday, class schedule, parents' names, and
parents' workplaces and phone numbers. You will have the information
on hand when you need to call parents or find the student when she
isn't with you--no more running to the office and bothering the
Class Activities that use Cooperative Learning
Most of these structures are developed by Dr. Spencer Kagan and his associates at
Kagan Publishing and Professional Development. For resources and professional
development information on Kagan Structures, please visit: www.KaganOnline.com
1. Jigsaw - Groups with five students are set up. Each group
member is assigned some unique material to learn and then to
teach to his group members. To help in the learning students
across the class working on the same sub-section get together to
decide what is important and how to teach it. After practice in
these "expert" groups the original groups reform and students
teach each other. (Wood, p. 17) Tests or assessment follows.
2. Think-Pair-Share - Involves a three step cooperative
structure. During the first step individuals think silently about a
question posed by the instructor. Individuals pair up during the
second step and exchange thoughts. In the third step, the pairs
share their responses with other pairs, other teams, or the entire
3. Three-Step Interview (Kagan) - Each member of a team chooses
another member to be a partner. During the first step individuals
interview their partners by asking clarifying questions. During the
second step partners reverse the roles. For the final step, members
share their partner's response with the team.
4. RoundRobin Brainstorming (Kagan)- Class is divided into small
groups (4 to 6) with one person appointed as the recorder. A question is
posed with many answers and students are given time to think about
answers. After the "think time," members of the team share responses
with one another round robin style. The recorder writes down the
answers of the group members. The person next to the recorder starts
and each person in the group in order gives an answer until time is
5. Three-minute review - Teachers stop any time during a lecture or
discussion and give teams three minutes to review what has been said,
ask clarifying questions or answer questions.
6. Numbered Heads Together (Kagan) - A team of four is established. Each
member is given numbers of 1, 2, 3, 4. Questions are asked of the group.
Groups work together to answer the question so that all can verbally answer the
question. Teacher calls out a number (two) and each two is asked to give the
7. Team Pair Solo (Kagan)- Students do problems first as a team, then
with a partner, and finally on their own. It is designed to motivate
students to tackle and succeed at problems which initially are beyond
their ability. It is based on a simple notion of mediated learning.
Students can do more things with help (mediation) than they can do
alone. By allowing them to work on problems they could not do alone,
first as a team and then with a partner, they progress to a point they
can do alone that which at first they could do only with help.
8. Circle the Sage (Kagan)- First the teacher polls the class to see
which students have a special knowledge to share. For example the
teacher may ask who in the class was able to solve a difficult math
homework question, who had visited Mexico, who knows the chemical
reactions involved in how salting the streets help dissipate snow. Those
students (the sages) stand and spread out in the room. The teacher then
has the rest of the classmates each surround a sage, with no two
members of the same team going to the same sage. The sage explains
what they know while the classmates listen, ask questions, and take
notes. All students then return to their teams. Each in turn, explains
what they learned. Because each one has gone to a different sage, they
compare notes. If there is disagreement, they stand up as a team.
Finally, the disagreements are aired and resolved.
9. Partners (Kagan) - The class is divided into teams of four. Partners
move to one side of the room. Half of each team is given an assignment
to master to be able to teach the other half. Partners work to learn and
can consult with other partners working on the same material. Teams go
back together with each set of partners teaching the other set. Partners
quiz and tutor teammates. Team reviews how well they learned and
taught and how they might improve the process.
Creative Conflict: Resolving & Avoiding
Conflict in Group Art Projects
by Theresa Sotto
Ten Tips to Resolving Conflict!
Putting together a school play, writing a group composition, or creating a class mural can be an incredibly
rewarding and fun experience for students. But with grades at stake, artistic differences, and varying levels of
commitment, conflicts between students are par for the course. Here are ten tips to help you avoid and resolve
conflicts in creative group projects.
1. Every individual is important. Before a project begins, foster an environment in which students are
comfortable expressing themselves. Try this activity: Have students sit in a circle. Hand a ball of string to a
student. Ask the students to state their name and an interesting fact about themselves. Then, while holding
the end of the string, the student should roll the ball to another student who, in turn, holds the string taut,
shares his name and an interesting fact, then rolls the ball to another student. And so on. After everyone has
spoken, the students will be linked together by a strong web. Toss an object like a stuffed animal or volleyball
into the middle of the web. Just as every single person must hold the string in order to keep the object from
falling, every individual's voice is important in a collaborative project.
2. Cooperate for first-rate art. Show students that beautiful works can be created when everyone shares
their unique skills and ideas. Amira Westenburger, School Counselor at Rockledge Elementary in Bowie,
Maryland, groups students in teams of four for this excellent activity: While playing music, have each group
member sit at the corners of a piece of butcher paper. Invite them to draw anything they wish. When the
music ends, students must stop drawing and move clockwise to the next corner of the butcher paper. When
the music starts again, students must add on to their peer's drawing. After each student has drawn on each
corner, students will see first-hand how cooperation can create unique art.
3. Be a taskmaster. Avoid conflict by ensuring everyone involved knows exactly what is expected of them
from the get-go. Try drawing up student agreements that list how each student will participate and cooperate.
If you find that some students aren't pulling their weight, remind them of their decisions and promises. You
could also involve the whole group in creating checklists of tasks for each person. Turn these checklists into
rubrics and you can easily assess each student's performance.
4. Peers can be taskmasters too. Before embarking on a project, tell students they will be filling out
rubrics that assess whether each member of the group did their share of the workload. If students know that
their peers will be keeping an eye on their performance, slackers often step up to the plate.
5. Listen first, second, and always. Teach students to respect each other by carefully listening. If a
student is angry and is expressing his anger to his peers in an excited way, remind his peers to listen to his
words rather than watch his body language. This ensures that students listen to a viewpoint rather than react
to their peer's anger. If there's a heated conflict, avoid unnecessary arguments by telling students to count to
ten before saying anything. In those ten seconds, students should be thinking about what they want to say
and how they want to say it. This way, students can catch themselves before blaming or attacking another.
6. Act it out. It is often difficult for students to be objective about a conflict, so it is helpful for them to hear
others describe the situation. Lillian Hasko, Dance teacher in Silver Spring, MD, suggests that students
involved in a conflict should explain their view of the conflict to another student who will represent them as
their "actor." The actor will work with students to represent each side fairly. The conflict is then presented to
the class or larger group, who will offer suggestions for a resolution. When all suggestions have been shared,
students in the conflict can provide additional suggestions before deciding on the best solution.
7. Role-play real-life conflicts. When students have different cultural, religious, and socioeconomic
backgrounds, a wide variety of perspectives is the norm. If students take the time to examine conflicts that
occur outside of the school community, they can learn to develop empathy for others' perspectives. In Dr.
Robert McCarthy's American Civilization class at the Key School in Annapolis, MD, students are asked to
role-play leading figures in Supreme Court cases, including the plaintiff and defendant, lawyers, and the nine
Supreme Court justices. Before the "trial," students must conduct considerable research to gain a sense of
the cultural, religious, and socioeconomic background of the person they are role-playing.
8. Two heads can be better than one. One of the most common conflicts among students is learning how
to negotiate. When two students both have brilliant—but different—ideas about how a work should look or
sound, help them see that both ideas might be able to exist together. For example, if one student believes that
a costume should be made of tulle and another prefers a shiny fabric, perhaps the costume can include both
fabrics, and would, as a result, have more texture and variety.
9. Exercise your mediating muscles. Ideally, students will work out conflicts on their own. Students can
also be trained to act as peer mediators. But in more complicated scenarios, a mediator can provide a much-
needed neutral viewpoint. Help alleviate a conflict of opinions by meeting with the parties involved. Have each
side write down their viewpoint, including reasons why their viewpoint would lead to successful results. Then
have them critique their own ideas, including whether their ideas are logistically possible. Invite each side to
share their opinions, then help them decide what would be best to attain the main goals of the project.
10. Who gets to use the markers first? Students must learn to respect each other's opinions at a very
early age. In kindergarten, students are tasked with keeping their frustrations in check if they are not given
their first choice. It is important to encourage students to voice their opinions, and learn to bend or negotiate
when their opinions are countered. Whether deciding who gets to use the markers first or which screenplay
will be chosen for a high school play, persuade students to express their ideas and encourage their peers to
Conflict resolution is a life lesson. Teach students that voicing their opinions—as well as negotiation and
compromise—are indispensable skills in the real world, whether in the field of the arts and humanities or the
sphere of business and politics.