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Posts Tagged ‘cooperative learning

Virtual Team Building Activities

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I, like many others, was forced to move a face-to-face college class to virtual synchronous meetings in Zoom. This term I am teaching a group dynamics course. One of my goals is to have my students experience similar dynamics and processes as they would face-to-face. Typically, I do this through experiential group activities. My task has become converting these experiences to a virtual environment.

What follows are descriptions of some of these activities:

  • Ice Breaker Wheel
  • Never Have I Ever
  • Two Truths and a Lie Via Flipgrid
  • I Am Poems
  • Padlet Partner Interviews Partner Interviews
  • Team Contracts
  • Flippity Scavenger Hunt – Virtual Escape Room
  • Body Part Debrief (ala Michelle Cummings)

Ice Breaker Wheel

During the webinar, each student is given a link to the ice breaker wheel. Each student takes turns spinning it to get a question and then provides an answer to the rest of the group.

Never Have I Ever

During the virtual meeting, never have you ever questions are asked. If individual students have experienced it, they jump out of their chairs. There are lots of websites that have these questions including https://icebreakerideas.com/never-have-i-ever/. Here is a list from that website:

Never have I ever . . .:

  • Dyed my hair
  • Baked a cake from scratch
  • Fallen down in public
  • Had braces
  • Built something out of wood
  • Been to Disney World
  • Eaten a Krispy Kreme donut
  • Screamed during a scary movie
  • Been to a professional sporting event
  • Rolled down a hill
  • Toilet papered someone’s house
  • Laughed so hard I cried
  • Burned myself with a curling iron
  • Gotten seasick
  • Eaten food that fell on the floor
  • Shared a sucker with my dog
  • Had chickenpox
  • Shopped at Home Depot
  • Spied on my neighbors
  • Plucked my eyebrows
  • Ridden in a limo
  • Had a pet fish
  • Lied about my age
  • Bought something at a yard sale
  • Made a prank call
  • Gotten a tattoo
  • Had food come out my nose
  • Had a massage
  • Locked my keys in the car
  • Ridden a horse
  • Been lost
  • Been to Europe
  • Built a fire
  • Been skydiving
  • Played golf
  • Had a manicure
  • Made mashed
  • Made all A’s in school
  • Eaten a bug

Two Truths and a Live via Flipgrid

Many have played Two Truths and a Lie. For those who have not or who have forgotten the directions, here they are:

To get started, give out the instructions to the group by letting them know that each person will introduce themselves by stating two truths and one lie. They don’t have to be intimate, life-revealing things, just simple hobbies, interests, or past experiences that make each person unique. The lie can be outrageous, wacky, or sound like a truth, making it even harder for the other participants who have to guess which statement is a lie (https://www.thoughtco.com/2-truths-lie-idea-list-1-31144).

To do this online, each student records her/his two truths and a lie using Flipgrid (The teacher is the only one who needs an account. Here is more information how to use Flipgrid – https://flipgrid.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360007460474-Getting-Started-Educators). The other class members make their guess for which is the lie via the comment function in Flipgrid. Here is an example:

I Am Poems

Students are provided with an “I Am” template, – https://freeology.com/worksheet-creator/poetry/i-am-poem/. Once the poems are written, participants are given a link to a shared Google Slide presentation (shared with anyone with a link can edit) that you started. They are asked to use one of the presentation slides to compose their poem and include a photo or image that symbolizes the essence of their identity. After all participants complete this task, the presentation, one poem at a time, is shared in the webinar platform.  Students read their poems to their classmates when it comes up in the Google Slide presentation.

What follows is an example from my class.

Padlet Partner Interviews

Padlet is used for this activity. (The teacher is the only one who needs an account. For more information about creating Padlets, see https://jn.padlet.com/ ). Students are split into partners (several of the webinar platforms allow for breakout rooms). They interview one another. They can come up with their own questions or they choose some from https://museumhack.com/list-icebreakers-questions/. Once done interviewing, the interviewer puts the summary of her or his interview on a Padlet sticky note and then selects an image (there is a Google search tool within Padlet) that represents the essence of that interview. When the whole group reconvenes, each group member shares one cool thing learned about her or his partner. Below is an example Padlet (screenshot).

Team Contracts

Team contracts are good to use if the group or team will be working together for multiple class sessions over a period of time such as for weeks or months. Groups are given the instruction to come up with norms that will make this a group where individual team or group members feel a sense of safety to disclose information about themselves and also to feel willing to take risks. The class is broken into smaller breakout groups of 3 to 5 people per group. One group member acts as the media specialist. They add norms and graphics based on their small group input and consensus of ideas.

What follows are example team contracts completed during a Zoom session. The following two examples were completed by small groups using technology – the first one with https://www.canva.com/ and the second one with a Powerpoint slide.

The next example was done with one person cutting out letters and adding key terms that her team members brainstormed.

Flippity Scavenger Hunt – Virtual Escape Room

Flippity,net has a template for creating a virtual scavenger hunt/escape room. Here are the directions for how to do so https://flippity.net/ScavengerHunt.htm.

I created one for my group dynamics course if you want to try it out.

(Hint: Some of the answers are open-ended. Some require specific answers. To make it through the entire series of locks, #6 is courage and #7 is active listening.)

Debrief

It is important to put a sense of closure at the end of the virtual group sessions. To do so, a prompt can be given to the students that helps them think and respond about their significant take away from the virtual class session. Each participant is given an opportunity to answer the prompt one at a time in an “around the group” fashion.

What follows are a few developed by Michelle Cummings of Training Wheels. The first is the Dice Debrief. Team members spin a dice and that number role indicates which question they will answer on the following graphic. If someone doesn’t have a dice, they can use a virtual one by just googling “virtual dice.”

The following debrief prompt, developed by Michelle Cummings, is the body part debrief. Each student picks one of the body parts and the corresponding question to answer for their session closing comment.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 30, 2020 at 1:14 am

A Maker Education PD Workshop

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I had the privilege of presenting a day long maker education workshop at Edutech Asia on November 7, 2019. I was excited about having teachers and other professionals from Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, India, Malaysia, and New Zealand attend. What follows are some details and highlights.

As they arrived in the morning, I asked them to access the workshop slides and create a name card lit up with an LED.

They then used these name cards to introduce themselves.

Next, they were provided with copper tape, coin batteries, LEDs, and Chibitronics’ circuit stickers along with instructions about how to make series and parallel circuits; and asked to create pictures from their circuits. Here is a video of some of the participants sharing their processes:

Then, they were asked to further reflect on their learning by playing my Maker Reflection Game.

They were then introduced to their next making segment in which they could pick to do one or more of the following projects:

  • Bristlebots
  • Gami-bots
  • More advanced paper circuits
  • micro:bit books
  • Makey-Makey Characters

I repeatedly encouraged them to take pictures throughout their making processes in order to document their learning.

To reflect on this making segment, they were introduced to several types of online educational technology creation tools to use for their reflective piece. I believe that reflection and assessment should be as fun, exciting, valuable, and informative as the making process itself. Here are some examples from the workshop:



Finally, they were instructed to create a poster using visuals and LEDs in their small groups about their day and how they can apply their learnings when they return to their work environments.

. . . and here are the slides provided to the participants:

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

November 18, 2019 at 2:36 am

Pi Day: An Example of an Interdisciplinary, Engaging Lesson

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I have the privilege of teaching my gifted elementary students for multiple years. At my one school, I have them in class for a full day each week, and each year I have special thematic days for which the students get very excited, e.g., Halloween and Day of the Dead “Wars,” Valentines Day, Book Celebrations, and Pi Day. I love planning a variety of interdisciplinary activities for these days and I love watching how 100% are fully engaged for the entire time.

I’ve blogged about the value of interdisciplinary units before – All Lessons Should Be Interdisciplinary https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/all-lessons-should-be-interdisciplinary/

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Pi Day Activities

The day consisted of the following activities:

  • Digital Breakout
  • Making and Decorating Pies
  • Book: Sir Cumference
  • Measuring for Pi
  • Kahoot Pi Games

Standards Addressed

Common Core Math Standards:

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.B.4
    Know the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle and use them to solve problems; give an informal derivation of the relationship between the circumference and area of a circle.
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.A.1
    Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system, and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

Common Core English Language Arts Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7
    Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.10
    By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

ISTE Standards for Students:

  • Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.
  • Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.

21st Partnership for 21st Century Skills:

  • Collaborate with others
  • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member

Digital Breakout EDU – Pi Day

So what is this about Digital Breakout EDU games?  Simply put, it’s taking the same concept, but turning it all digital.  Participants are given a one-page site that includes text, images and links to clues, some of which may be misleading.  There is a Google Form embedded on the page where you submit your answers to a series of “lock” questions and each lock will immediately tell you if you’re successful (http://wordpress.barrow.k12.ga.us/21stcenturytips/?p=6989).

To start off our Pi day activities, students did a Pi Day Digital Breakout EDU game.

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Can be accessed at https://platform.breakoutedu.com/game/play/pi-day-digital-breakout-4th-6th-grades-90608 .

Making and Decorating Pies

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One of the activities students enjoy the most during Pi day is making pies. They were given ingredients and recipes for:

They needed to follow the recipe which included figuring out the directions and using measurements. After the pies were made, they decorated them with Pi symbols.

Sir Cumference

The students then were shown a reading of Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (A Math Adventure) by Cindy Neuschwander:

Join Sir Cumference, Lady Di of Ameter, and their son Radius for wordplay, puns, and problem solving in this geometry-packed math adventure. King Arthur was a good ruler, but now he needs a good ruler. What would you do if the neighboring kingdom were threatening war? Naturally, you’d call your strongest and bravest knights together to come up with a solution. But when your conference table causes more problems than the threat of your enemy, you need expert help. Enter Sir Cumference, his wife Lady Di of Ameter, and their son Radius. With the help of the carpenter, Geo of Metry, this sharp-minded team designs the perfect table conducive to discussing the perfect plan for peace (https://www.amazon.com/Cumference-First-Round-Table-Adventure/dp/1570911525).

Measuring for Pi

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With tape measures in hand, groups of students carefully measure the circumferences and diameters of various round objects.  The class makes a table of measured values and calculates the quotients.  When they see time and time again the same answer result from division, whether it be from big circular objects or small ones—eureka!—they will have unwittingly discovered π for themselves (http://ccssimath.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-life-of-pi.html).

Pi Kahoots

Using Kahoot wasn’t planned for the day but the students asked for it. I love that they ask for learning tasks. The Kahoot quizzes made and submitted by other teachers make it so easy to use them spontaneously. Here are the two Pi Kahoots I did with the students:

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Accessed at: https://create.kahoot.it/details/pi-day/877d64ee-3003-4a30-9d82-f1cd81721749

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Accessed at: https://create.kahoot.it/details/pi-day-trivia/a7605cd3-4c93-4c13-bc23-eec96da2a627

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 31, 2019 at 4:39 pm

Halloween Wars: An Interdisciplinary Lesson with a STEM, STEAM, Maker Education Focus

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For Halloween 2016 and 2017, I did a version of Halloween Wars (a Food Network show) with my two classes of gifted elementary learners. I am sharing this lesson through my blog post as it reinforces how I approach lesson planning and teaching.

Background Information

Principles that drive my instructional approach. regardless of theme, include:

  • Instructional challenges are hands-on and naturally engaging for learners.
  • There is a game-like atmosphere. There are elements of play, leveling up, and a sense of mastery or achievement during the instructional activities.
  • The challenges are designed to be novel and create excitement and joy for learners.
  • There is a healthy competition where the kids have to compete against one another.
  • Learners don’t need to be graded about their performances as built-in consequences are natural.
  • There is a natural building of social emotional skills – tolerance for frustration, expression of needs, working as a team.
  • Lessons are interdisciplinary (like life) where multiple, cross-curricular content areas are integrated into the instructional activities.

These have been further discussed in A Model of Good Teaching?

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Halloween Wars Lesson

For this Halloween Wars lesson, the goals included the following:

  • To work in a small group to create a Halloween scene using food items, cooked goods, LED lights, and miscellaneous materials.
  • To work as a small group to craft a story about their scene.
  • To introduce and reinforce ideas, concepts, and skills associated with maker education, STEM, and STEM.

Standards addressed during this lesson included:

  • Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. (National Core Arts Standards)
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal; and assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member. (21st Century Skills)
  • Apply scientific ideas to design, test,and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another. (Next Generation Science Standards)
  • Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements. (CCSS.Math)
  • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3)
  • Publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences. (ISTE NETS for Students)

Time Frame: 3 to 4 hours

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Procedures:

  • Learners were introduced to the lesson through the following presentation –

  • Learners were split into groups of 3 or 4 members. In their small groups, they worked together on a shared Google doc to compose their story. The story was displayed on the Smartboard and read aloud. One member made editing changes to grammar and spelling based on suggestions by their classmates. (This strategy is further discussed in Teaching Grammar in Context.)   Here is one student group’s example:

  • They were then shown their materials and asked to sketch their designs.

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  • In their small groups, learners needed to work together cooperatively to make their display scenes using the materials provided.

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  • Learners made sugar cookies using a recipe projected on the Smartboard. They were asked to cut the recipe in half reinforcing math skills.

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  • LED lights, which learners connected to coin batteries, were placed in decorated ping-pong balls and their carved pumpkin.

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  • Microbits were programming to add a title to their scenes.

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. . . and some final displays:

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  • Their final task for Halloween Wars was to write a blog post on their Kidblogs that reflect on their processes. I worked with individual students to help them edit their work.

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 31, 2016 at 12:11 am

Teaching Elementary-Level Learners About the Brain

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Judy Willis in How to Teach Students About the Brain writes:

If we want to empower students, we must show them how they can control their own cognitive and emotional health and their own learning. Teaching students how the brain operates is a huge step. Even young students can learn strategies for priming their brains to learn more efficiently.

Teaching students the mechanism behind how the brain operates and teaching them approaches they can use to work that mechanism more effectively helps students believe they can create a more intelligent, creative, and powerful brain. It also shows them that striving for emotional awareness and physical health is part of keeping an optimally functioning brain. Thus, instruction in brain function will lead to healthier learners as well as wiser ones.

Here is a run down of the learning activities I did with my gifted elementary students to teach them about their brains:

Introduction to the Brain

  • Learners played a concentration brain game I created. Cards were created that had parts of the brain images on one of the paired cards and the definitions on the other. Games cards included: cerebral cortex, frontal cortex, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe, cerebellum, limbic system, hypothalamus, amygdala, neuron, axon, dendrite, neurotransmitters, synapse. Students were asked to read aloud the definitions when they match a pair. An alternative is to play Neuro-Jeopardy found at http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/jeopardy.html.

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Learning about the Brain Lobes

  • Learners completed a jigsaw puzzle I created about the brain lobes and their functions.

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  • Using the Smartboard, the interactive website, https://www.koshland-science-museum.org/explore-the-science/interactives/brain-anatomy, about the brain lobes was shown to the learners.
  • Using this website and brain anatomy posters on the wall as references, learners, in small groups, created their own model brains using dough (that they made themselves) for the lobes and sticky notes/toothpicks to label the lobes and their functions.

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Brain Operation Game

  • I adapted the directions for their brain operation game from https://iamclaudius.com/makey-makey-operation-game/. I gave them an outline of the brain with lobes outlined for them to color and rubber cement onto a pizza box (see video below). For their brain parts, I gave them air drying clay. They were asked to create parts that represent the functions of the individual lobes, e.g., eye for occipital lobe, mouth for temporal lobe, a ball for the cerebellum, etc.
  • They were then asked to code their games using Scratch. Here is the example I used to get them started: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/283935140/editor/. I instructed them to include, for each lobe, its name and some kind of pun about its function.
  • Finally, they hooked up the Makey Makey using the directions found at https://iamclaudius.com/makey-makey-operation-game/.

Learning About Neurons

  • Neurons were introduced to the learners through this Neuroscience for Kids webpage – https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/synapse.html
  • Learners made their own neurons out of licorice, fruit roll ups, and min-Reese’s cups on top of wax paper and labeled the parts of the neuron on their wax paper. This was inspired by the Neuroscience for Kids webpage – http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/chmodel.html.  Learners were then asked to show how their neurons would correctly connect to one another as they would be in the brain.

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Finishing Up with a Creative Writing Activity About the Brain

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 22, 2016 at 1:44 am

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