- Provide an explicit focused opportunity for the cohort to discuss and begin to practice the skills referred to within the ‘Group Work Skills Tip Sheet’.
- Communicate a shared language, understanding and shared expectations of how to work with others in groups.
- Build upon students cooperative skills for working with others.
Please Note: This session will require at least 50 minutes to effectively deliver.
- White board and markers
- Poster paper and markers for each group
- Group Work Skills Tip Sheets for each group
- YouTube Footage from Lego or EA Games (OPTIONAL)
- Ribbon and Flips Construction Sheet 1 (OPTIONAL)
- Group Work Skills Tip Sheet Poster (displayed at the completion of the session and not prior)
Review and Reflect: Last week we practised Whole Body Listening. Today’s activity is about working with others. Here’s a tip, if you Whole Body Listen in your group, your group will find today’s challenges easier to achieve.
“The Friendship Saver is about building your friendship skills, helping you to solve friendship problems, and learning to work well with other people. Group work is an activity lots of people find particularly difficult. Today, we’re going to work through a series of group work challenges to build your group work skills. This is really important. Many of the most interesting jobs in the world require people that can work really well in teams and groups.
For example, the company Lego only employ people who know how to work well in teams because every single Lego product that they release has been brainstormed, designed, tested and created by a team. The high rise buildings in the city, the computer games you love, the bridges you drive over, the cartoons you watch…just about everything has been created by a team. So, let’s learn how to work in groups and teams.”
Recommended: Students might enjoy
viewing footage released by LEGO employees (such as the YouTube video titled:
‘LIFE at the LEGO Group’. This footage
demonstrates the collaborative team approach that is essential at LEGO. Older students might appreciate footage
regularly uploaded by EA Games on YouTube that demonstrates a team working
environment (see YouTube Title: ‘EA’s Quality Engineering Team: Pushing The
Boundaries of Our Tools & Technologies!’). After viewing this footage, ask students what they noticed about the way
people worked at Lego/EA Games. “People weren’t just sitting at desks and
working alone. Employees were mostly
discussing ideas, problem solving, brainstorming and making decisions in groups
just like us.”
Group Challenge 1:
“Shortly you will be given a set of challenges in groups. For each group challenge that your team achieves, you will receive a set of points. Teams that earn 40 or more points will win a prize for each team member.”
“When you hear the word ‘ACTION’ you will be required to form a group of 5 and decide on a team name. Once your group has chosen a name, write it at the top of the poster paper. That’s your first challenge. You will have only 5 minutes. We have poster paper and markers for each group at the front. This first challenge is worth 10 points. ACTION”.
Please Note: For this particular task, entice groups with a worthy prize to work towards. This element creates an atmosphere of competition that can raise the stakes and can bring out both the best and worst social skills in your students; helpful to notice, reflect and learn from. Need an idea for a group prize? Try canteen vouchers.
For this first group challenge, do not provide the students with any hints to help them to work together. In this first instance, leave them to their own devices. After 5 minutes, PAUSE the groups.
“Put your hand up if your group agreed on a name?” Notice the number of groups that achieved the first challenge and allocate 10 points to the successful groups for round one. Write the points on the board, along with each group’s name. Ask the groups to describe how they came to a group decision. Discuss. Ask groups to describe what strategies that worked well, what was frustrating, any issues and any ideas for working together more effectively.
This first discussion should be led by the students own experiences and reflections. Consider weaving ‘Whole Body Listening’ into the conversation too. Indeed, this is an already established skill that would help them in their groups.
“There are a number of facts that are particularly useful to know if you’re working in groups, and want to work together well. The first fact is this; People often have different opinions and that’s great, it makes for interesting conversations and creative brainstorming. Don’t expect that everyone in your group will have the same opinion or idea as you. That would be plain old boring. Different opinions can help a group to imagine a completely new, fantastic idea that you would never have thought of alone. So, acknowledge and expect that people often have different opinions”.
Write on the board – ‘1. ‘People Often have Different Opinions’
“In fact, some people wrongly think that you can only be friends with someone if you share the same interests and opinions. Different opinions make for interesting conversations and are a normal part of friendship.”
“Let’s talk about another group work tip. In groups you might also notice that some of you might be most comfortable as talkers, while others are most comfortable as listeners. In order to get the most ‘creative juice’ out of your groups combined brains, you need to ensure that everyone’s opinion and ideas are heard. In fact, if you’re more comfortable as a talker, take it on as your responsibility to help quieter group members to be heard. You might say “Hey Jo what do you think?”
Write on the board - ‘2. Everyone’s Opinion Needs to be Heard’
“This brings me to a third point - talking over each other will always lead to disaster so, agree to take turns to talk”.
Write on the board - ‘3. Agree to Take Turns to Talk’
Read out the three ideas that you have written on the board, in sequence.
Group Challenge 2:
“Now that you've had a chance to think about what works in groups, what’s important in groups and what doesn’t work in groups, let’s see how you go with challenge number two”
“Imagine that an ice-cream factory has approached our class, and wants each group to come up with the most perfect ice-cream dessert that kids would love. In your team, discuss your ideas and design the most perfect ice-cream dessert idea for the ice-cream factory. Good luck. You have 6 minutes.”
Walk around the room and observe
the skills, strategies and challenges as they are happening in groups. If groups are struggling, consider directing
them to the first three points on the board, but hold back from offering new
skills at this stage. After 6 minutes,
bring the class back together. At this
stage, you might consider informing the teams to be mindful that they still
have an opportunity to earn more points in the next challenge, and not to feel
stressed if they haven’t achieve this second group challenge. There is still time to make up points in the last round.
Ask the groups to raise their hands if they were able to agree upon one fabulous design. Time permitting, ask the groups to nominate a speaker to stand in front of the class with their design, and describe the idea. Ensure students are showing respect to their classmates by Whole Body Listening while the speaker is presenting their teams idea. Allocate 10 points to each group that achieved the challenge. Record the points on the board, along side group names.
Ask the groups, “How did your groups function this time around? Did anyone use the tips on the board?” Discuss. If the students are not very forthcoming, discuss your observations as gained while you were walking around the room. Be specific with examples and ask students to elaborate and reflect. Be mindful to reference positive observations and unproductive observations in a non-critical, encouraging and helpful tone.
Now it’s time to add a few more skills to their repertoire. “I have a few more skills to help you with this last final group work challenge. Number 4, Compromise.”
Write on the board – ‘4. Compromise’
Ask the students to describe what they think this might mean. Ask students to illustrate their meaning for the word with examples. Compromise can mean many things including; agreeing on a final decision by altering, combining or sacrificing your ideas, or giving up on your idea to join the majority decision. Try to illustrate this concept to the students with examples.
“There are four more skills and strategies to think about when working in groups.
It can be helpful to have a conversation in your group to discuss and decide how your group will make decisions. Voting can be a helpful strategy. Have any of the groups used this strategy today? Why is voting a common strategy when working in groups?” Discuss.
Write the fifth, sixths, seventh and eighth tip on the board in succession, reading them out as you write. Provide examples along the way and expand where necessary.
Group Challenge 3:
“Now for your final group challenge. This challenge is worth 30 points.
For your last challenge you need to design a mascot to help sell your ice-cream creation to kids. Lots of products have a mascot. MacDonald’s has Ronald MacDonald, Duracell batteries have the Duracell Bunny, Toys R Us have Geoffrey the Giraffe and Nintendo have used Mario since 1981!”
Consider showing images of each Brand Mascot for visual interest. The time left for this last group challenge will depend on how much time is left within the session. Distribute a Group Work Skills Tip Sheet to each group and ask them to use it to help them achieve the final challenge.
At the conclusions of the challenge, ask each group to display their poster paper at the front of the room so they can all be viewed. Each group that has produced a mascot of some sort receives 30 points. You might offer the class some feedback from your observations. Hopefully you can draw example and comparisons, highlighting observed improvements across the course of the session.
End Message: Remind the students that working in groups is difficult, and can take time to master. Inform students that they will be able to use the Group Work Skills Tip Sheets in all group work activities from now on, to help them to become ‘super awesome’ in groups. “At least with these skills, each of you could apply for a job at Lego when you finish high school, if you wanted to!” Display the Group Work Skills Tip Sheet Poster in the classroom.
Highly Recommended: Use the Group Work Skills Tip Sheet across the whole curriculum, during all group work activities.