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Posts Tagged ‘team building

Team-Building with Elementary Students

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Yes, there are mounds of curricula students must master in a wide breadth of subjects, but education does not begin and end with a textbook or test. Other skills must be honed, too, not the least of which is how to get along with their peers and work well with others. This is not something that can be cultivated through rote memorization or with strategically placed posters. Students must be engaged and cooperation must be practiced, and often. (http://www.teachthought.com/critical-thinking/10-team-building-games-that-promote-critical-thinking/)

I meet with two groups of gifted elementary students, grades 2nd through 6th, for a full day each week. I begin our days together with a team building activity. The benefits for doing so cannot be overstated:

  • It sets the climate that cooperation and collaboration is an expectation in the classroom.
  • It reinforces that each person’s ideas and contribution will be respected.
  • It’s whole body-mind learning.
  • It builds a sense of classroom community which carries over through all of the classroom activities.
  • Communication, listening, and problem-solving skills are developed and enhanced.
  • Divergent thinking is honored and expected to successfully approach and complete the activities.

Lists and descriptions of team-building activities can be found at:

Several of the activities require some props. I enjoy making my own but they can also be purchased from the stores that sell sports goods to schools:

Sample Team-Building Activities

Spaghetti-Marshmallow Tower

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Materials:

  • Mini-marshmallow
  • Dry spaghetti

Task:

Split students into groups of 3 to 4 participants and given marshmallows and spaghetti (equal quantities of supplies per group). They are then given the task to only use the marshmallows and spaghetti to build the tallest tower.

Great Egg Drop

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Materials:

  • One egg per group
  • 40 straws per group
  • a few feet of masking tape – same amount

The Task:

Divide the group into small teams of 3 – 4.  Give each team one raw egg, 40 straws, 1 meter of duck tape, and other materials as listed above. Tell them that the goal is to design and build a structure that will prevent their raw egg from breaking from a high drop (from the top of the playground structure.

Traveling Tangrams

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Materials:

The Task:

To begin, give all of the large Tangram pieces and a few copies of the specific Tangram shape that you want the students to create. As a group, they need to create that shape using all 7 pieces at the beginning of the crossing area/the beginning “shore of the river.” The rest of the activity is similar to the River Crossing team-building activity. The object of the activity is to get all members of the group safely across the river; a designated area 25 to 50 yards wide. They must go as one big group, not multiple smaller ones. Everyone must be on the river before anyone can get off the river, forcing the entire group to be engaged at once. Participants cannot touch the water (floor/grass) and therefore must use rafts (Tangram pieces) to cross. If one member does touch, the entire group must begin again. Once they reach the other side/shore, give them another Tangram shape to create and explain that they must stay on the pieces to form that shape. They can get off on the other side/shore once the Tangram shape is formed.

Copy the Structure

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Materials: Several identical sets of Legos (or similar building bricks) that vary in size and color.

The Task:

Create a Lego structure out of different colored and sized Legos and place it somewhere in the room where it can’t be seen until the activity begins. Divide the group into smaller teams (depending on number of available Legos and size of the group). Each team should be given a set of bricks to build an exact copy of the Lego structure you have already built. The rules are that only one person from each team is allowed to go and have a look at the structure. When they come back to their team, they cannot touch the bricks, but they can tell the others how to build their copy. Anybody from the team can go and have a look, but only one at a time. Once another person comes back from having a look, the previous person can then touch their bricks to help build. Be sure to emphasize that the goal is for each team to complete an exact replica of the model.

Source: https://guideinc.org/2016/04/20/team-building-activity-lego-structure-copy/

Human Knot

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Materials: none

The Task:

Starting in a circle, students connect hands with two others people in the group to form the human knot – right hand to right hand; left hand to left hand; connecting with two different people. As a team they must then try to unravel the “human knot” forming into a untangled circle by untangling themselves without breaking the chain of hands.

Pipeline

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Materials:

  • 1″ PVC pipe cut down the middle – a 18″ section per participant (pool noodles can be substituted)
  • a golf ball

The Task:

Students, as a big group, are asked to work together to transport golf balls across a designated area through the chain of plastic tubes, lining them up and acting quickly so they don’t let the golf balls drop! That means that the first person in line must run to the end of the chain. A course can be set up ahead of time but I like to tell them the course as they go. If they are performing well, I ask them to go up, over, and through playground equipment. They can only touch the pipes not the balls. If a ball drops, the group must begin again. Once the marbles pass through their tube, kids have to move to the end of the line to keep the flow going.

Pinball Tarp Machine

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Materials:

  • One  tarpaulin is cut randomly with 8 to 10 holes and numbered from 1 through 8-10 depending on how many holes are cut (or two tarps if you want to have more than one group. I usually have two groups competing). The word START is written at one of the corners.
  • Small playground ball – a little smaller than the cut holes

The Task:

Between 8 and 20 participants surround the tarp spacing themselves out evenly holding on to the tarp with both hands, creating a table top effect. Supply the groups with one small playground ball. Their goal is to get the ball to roll through the holes consecutively from 1 to 8 or 10. On each successful number, the ball is picked up from the ground and placed on START.  If the ball falls off the tarp or through a hole, the group can start from the number where they left off or if a more difficult challenge is desired, the game starts over. If more than one group is playing, then the team that gets their ball through all of the holes first wins.

Catch the Foxtail

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Materials:

  • Foxtail balls – 3 per group (http://www.usgames.com/p-e-activities/toss-catch/foxtails)
  • Rock climbing webbing – 5-6 foot diameter loop (like a hula hoop) for each groups (I like webbing because: (1) it is soft and pliable, and (2) it sits better in students’ hands. Ropes could cause rope burns)

The Task:

Split students into 5 or 6 participants per group.  Each group is given three foxtail balls and a circle webbing. All members of that subgroup except for one student form a circle with the webbing so that the web forms into a big type of basketball hoop. The remaining member throws each of the foxtail balls one at a time up into the air. The task of the hoop holders is the try to get the balls through the hoop while all keep their two hands on the hoop. Getting the ball through the hoop after a bounce does not count. They often need to run together to get under the ball. After the three balls are thrown, the thrower switches places with one of the holders. All students should get a chance to throw the balls. The team with the most “baskets” wins.

Robot Drawing

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There are two versions:

  1. The Toobeez version – http://www.toobeez.com/teambuilding-book/17-Robot-Writer-Activity.html
  2. The Duct Tape version – http://groupdynamix.com/ducttapegame/

Toxic Waste

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Materials:

  • two plastic bucket, one with 8′ ropes tied into it (I drill holes in the side and tied the end of nylon ropes through the holes – one per participant)
  • plastic balls
  • another piece of rope tied together to create a loop with a 8′ diameter – this acts as a boundary
  • a much more expensive version can be purchased – http://everlastclimbing.com/products/toxic-waste-transfer/

The Task:

  • Set Up – Set up the 8′ rope circle. Put the plastic balls into the bucket with the ropes. Put the other bucket next to it.
  • Situation to Tell Students – A bucket of highly toxic popcorn (the plastic balls) has contaminated a circle approximately 8 feet in diameter. The toxic area extends to the sky (meaning that hands and arms cannot cross into the area. If the poisonous popcorn is not transferred to a safe container (the other bucket) for decontamination, the toxic popcorn will contaminate and destroy the population of the entire city.
  • The Task –  You must find a way to safely transfer the toxic popcorn from the
    unsafe container to the safe container, using only the materials provided to you. Each student must always hold onto the end of his or her rope.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 6, 2017 at 11:57 pm

Tangrams: A Cross Curricular, Experiential Unit

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Now that I am back in the classroom two days a week teaching gifted elementary students, I can do and report on the cross curricular units I plan and implement. There are several guiding factors that I use to design my units:

  • They need to be hands-on and experiential.
  • Learner choice and voice is valued.
  • They need to address cross curricular standards. It is like life. Life doesn’t segment content areas into separate entities.
  • They do not depend on the use of worksheets. Worksheets tend to address a single standard or skill. Plus, learning how to do worksheets is NOT a life skill.
  • Communication, collaboration, and problem solving are built into the learning process.
  • Reading and writing are integrated into the learning activities in the form of fun, interesting books and stories, and writing stories, narratives, journalistic reports.
  • Educational technology is incorporated but with a focus on using it to interact with real world physical objects and people.
  • A reflective component is included.
  • The educator becomes a facilitator whereby activities are introduced and then the learners become the active agents of their own learning.
  • The goal is to create the conditions for learners to say they the best day ever.

Tangrams: Cross Curricular Unit

The tangram (Chinese: 七巧板; pinyin: qīqiǎobǎn; literally: “seven boards of skill”) is a dissection puzzle consisting of seven flat shapes, called tans, which are put together to form shapes. The objective of the puzzle is to form a specific shape (given only an outline or silhouette) using all seven pieces, which may not overlap. It is reputed to have been invented in China during the Song Dynasty,[1] and then carried over to Europe by trading ships in the early 19th century. . It is one of the most popular dissection puzzles in the world. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangram)

Goals:

The students will be able to:

  • Read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grades 4-5 text complexity band proficiently. (CCSS.ELA)
  • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. (CCSS.ELA)
  • Classify two-dimensional figures based on the presence or absence of parallel or perpendicular lines, or the presence or absence of angles of a specified size. Recognize right triangles as a category, and identify right triangles. (CCSS.MATH)
  • Understand that shapes in different categories (e.g., rhombuses, rectangles, and others) may share attributes (e.g., having four sides), and that the shared attributes can define a larger category (e.g., quadrilaterals). Recognize rhombuses, rectangles, and squares as examples of quadrilaterals, and draw examples of quadrilaterals that do not belong to any of these subcategories. (CCSS.MATH)
  • Develop and portray characters including specifics about circumstances, plot, and thematic intent, demonstrating logical story sequence and informed character choices. (ELA and Visual Arts)
  • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams. (21st Century Skills)
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member. (21st Century Skills)
  • Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways. (21st Century Skills)

Materials:

Learning Activities

Read Grandfather Tangrams + Learners Create Tangrams for Each Story Character

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Each learner is given a set of tangram puzzle pieces and a set of cards that shows how to make each tangram animal in the story. Grandfather Tang is read to the learners either directly from the book or through https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x74l1ZM-zP0 so it can be projected. The story is stopped each time there is a reference to one of the Tangram animals. Learners construct that animal using their own set of Tangrams.

Check-In with Tangrams

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One of my morning activities with learners is to have them check in as to how they are doing that day. The check in for this unit is to create a Tangram that represents how they are feeling. Selections are made from a sheet given to learners:

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Giant Puzzling Tangrams

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Making the props for this activity is worth the trouble as it is a very high engagement, high learning, high reward activity. To set it up, an area is chosen that is about 50 yards long (outside or in a gym) and the giant Tangram shapes are placed in a pile at the start of this area. Learners are given a card that has the design of a Tangram at the beginning of this area. They need to produce that Tangram and then all get on top of that shape. Their goal then becomes to cross the designated area using the Tangram pieces as stepping stones. If they fall off, they must go back to the beginning and start again. When they reach the end of the designated area, they are given another Tangram shape they need to construct prior to stepping off. This translates into the need for them to maneuver the Tangram pieces into the design while standing on pieces.

Tangoes Tangram Card Game – Paired Challenge

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Next, the learners play the Tangoes card game in pairs. The object of Tangoes is to form the image on the card using all seven puzzle in a challenge with another learner in a race to solve the puzzle. It helps build visual spatial skills as the cards don’t have demarcations for the individual Tangrams. I promote some cooperative work as I ask the partner who figured out the answer to help his or her partner to do so, too.

Make 3D Tangrams

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Learners are given the printed out templates for a set of 3D Tangrams and construct them.

Create a Story from 3D Tangrams – Take Photos and Write a Blog Post

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Learners think of a story using their 3D Tangrams and take photos for the scene(s) of their stories. They then upload these images to their blogs and write about their story.

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(Postscript: Wow – I didn’t review their blog posts until after school. We are definitely going to discuss this student’s blog post during on next class session. Great teachable moment to discuss this real life situation of one of their classmates.)

Team Building Activities That Support Maker Education, STEM, and STEAM

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Working as a productive and sensitive member of a team is looked upon by STEM-based companies as being a requirement to being an effective and contributing employee:

As technology takes over more of the fact-based, rules-based, left-brain skills—knowledge-worker skills—employees who excel at human relationships are emerging as the new “it” men and women. More and more major employers are recognizing that they need workers who are good at team building, collaboration, and cultural sensitivity, according to global forecasting firm Oxford Economics. Other research shows that the most effective teams are not those whose members boast the highest IQs, but rather those whose members are most sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. (http://fortune.com/2015/03/05/perfect-workplace/)

In academia, the majority of research in STEM fields is conducted through collaborations and working groups, where a diversity of ideas need to be proposed and analyzed to determine the best strategy(ies) for solving a problem. In the technology sector, product development is done as a team, with specific roles for each individual but its success is predicated on each member of the team providing a different skill set / perspective. Thus, students who are interested in both academia and industry will benefit from learning how to successfully work in a diverse team. (https://teaching.berkeley.edu/diversity-can-benefit-teamwork-stem#sthash.mHRBJQtV.dpuf)

What follows are some team building activities that use collaboration to explore and solve STEM-related challenges. Note that most of them require minimal supplies – costs.

teambuilding

Great Egg Drop

To begin, assemble groups of 4 or 5 and give each group various materials for building (e.g. 5-20 straws, a roll of masking tape, one fresh egg, newspaper, etc.)  Instruct the participants and give them a set amount of time (e.g. 30 minutes) to complete building a structure, with the egg inside in which the structures are dropped from at least 10 feet in elevation and then inspected to see if the eggs survived. The winners are the groups that were successful in protecting the egg. (http://eggdropproject.org/ and  http://www.group-games.com/team-building/great-egg-drop.html)

Marshmallow Tower

Give teams of 4 to 6 learners 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. Given a time frame of about 20 minutes, the groups must build the tallest free-standing structure out of the spaghetti. The marshmallow needs to be on top. (http://marshmallowchallenge.com/Welcome.html)

Marble Run

The challenge is to create a marble track using the given materials and have the marble land in an 8” square and remain there.  Give groups of 4 to 6 students: 1 piece of cardstock, 3 straws, 1 piece of string, 3 sheets of paper, 5 mailing labels, 4 paper clips, 3 rubber bands, and 2 pencils to complete this this task. (http://www.homeschoolcreations.net/2013/04/marble-track-instant-challenge-logic-for-kids/)

Drop the Golf Ball

Give each group of 4 to 6 learners 12 straws, 18 inches of masking tape and a golf ball. The goal is to build a container that will catch a golf ball dropped from about ten feet. Each group selects a “ball dropper” who stands on a chair and hold the golf ball at eye level. Each team places its container on the floor under where they think the ball will land. Each group gets three attempts and the group that gets a ball to go into their container and stay wins. (http://icebreakerideas.com/icebreakers-high-school-students/)

Straw Bridge

The challenge is for groups (3-5 members each) to design and construct a model of a single-span bridge using plastic drinking straws and masking tape as the building materials. The bridge is to span a distance of 40 cm, with no supporting pillars to the ground in between the ends of the span, and be approximately 10 cm wide. It needs to be strong enough to support a suitable load. This might be a book, a can of food, or other object of suitable weight placed on the middle of the completed structure. See Straw Bridge Challenge Worksheet: http://cteteach.cteonline.org/portal/default/Curriculum/Viewer/Curriculum?action=2&cmobjid=197387.

Toy Hacking Team Challenge

This is based on Toy Take Apart. In the Toy Hacking Team Challenge, each group of 3 to 4 members is given three or four battery-operated toys. Their task is to take all their toys apart and then using at least a few parts of each toy create a new toy or invention.

Construct a Chair

This activity asks groups of 3 to 5 members to design and build a full-sized chair from corrugated cardboard (and a mat knife) that could support the weight of a person up to 150 lbs. for up to 5 minutes. The person seated will be in a “comfortable” position with his/her back leaning against the back of the chair.  (http://mschangart.weebly.com/architecture/card-board-chair-design-challenge)

DIY Instrumentals

Learners make instruments from recycled or natural materials. See http://www.howweelearn.com/spectacular-homemade-musical-instruments/ recycled materials for ideas. Separate learners in small groups of 4 to 6 members in each group. Inform them that they will be performing a musical piece using all of their DIY instruments for the rest of the group. After a practice time, bring groups back together for the performances.

Sneak a Peek

Build a small sculpture or design with some type of the building material (Legos, Tinker Toys) and hide it from the group. Divide the group into small teams of two to eight members each. Give each team enough building material so that they could duplicate what you have already created. Place the original sculpture in a place that is hidden but at an equal distance from all the groups. Ask one member from each team to come at the same time to look at the sculpture for five seconds in order to try to memorize it as much as possible before returning to his/her team. After they run back to their teams, they have twenty-five seconds to instruct their teams how to build the structure so that it looks like the one that has been hidden. After the twenty-five seconds, ask each team to send up another member of their group who gets a chance to “sneak a peek” before returning to their team. Continue in this pattern until one of the teams successfully duplicates the original sculpture. (http://www.teambuildingportal.com/games/sneek-peek)

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 14, 2015 at 10:39 pm

Chapter in Handbook of Mobile Learning: Team and Community Building Using Mobile Devices

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The Handbook of Mobile Learning has just been published through Routledge: Taylor and Francis – see http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415503693/.  I am excited to have a chapter in this edited book, Team and Community Building Using Mobile Devices.  Here is the introduction to my chapter:

People in the 21st Century are using their own mobile devices – iPads, netbooks, laptops, and smart phones – to be consumers and producers of digital content, and to be active participants in online communities.  They are connecting with one another through mobile technologies in unprecedented ways. Computers, Wi-Fi networks, and smart phones allow young people 24/7 access to technology and to one another.   They are familiar and comfortable with social networking and using a variety of apps via their devices.  Nielson (2010), in a survey of teen mobile device use, reported that 94% percent of teen users identified themselves as advanced data users, turning to their mobile devices for messaging, Internet, multimedia, gaming, and other activities like downloads.

When educators leverage these types of informal learning by giving agency to the students to use their mobile technologies and by providing the structure and skills for their use within more formal educational settings, motivation and learning are increased.  Using mobile devices in educational settings as learning and community building tools can promote interpersonal communication, encourage young people to positively express their individuality and build their student-to-student, and student-to-educator relationships. The strategic and intentional use of cell phones, social networking sites, laptops, blogs, and digital cameras can build diversity and cultural sensitivity, teamwork and problem solving, self-reflection and self-exploration, and communication and self-expression.

This chapter introduces the use of mobile devices as a means to build community and teamwork within a variety of classroom settings: face-to-face, blended, and virtually.  This discussion has four components: research that supports the use of student-owned mobile devices for building community in the classroom, evidence to support the importance of promoting community in the classroom, team-building activities using mobile devices, and the results of a end-of-course student survey about using mobile devices for community building,

. . . and an excerpt:

MOBILE DEVICES USE PATTERNS SUPPORT COMMUNITY BUILDING

People of all ages, almost from all parts of the world, are using their mobile devices to communicate, connect, and share personal experiences.  They are building their own informal learning and social communities via their mobile devices and social networking sites.  This section discusses the research about mobile device use patterns.  It becomes the foundation not only for providing a rationale for the use of mobile devices in the classroom, but also serves as a guide for the types of technologies and activities that are best suited for mobile-driven community building activities.

Mobile Phone Ownership and Use Patterns Among United States Teens

A Pew Research report entitled, Teens and Mobile Phones, released April, 2010, noted that as of September 2009, 75% of American teens ages 12-17 own cell phone.  This number has steadily increased from 45% of teens in November 2004. Cell phones have become ubiquitous in the lives of teens today, with ownership cutting across demographic groups and geographical locations.

As expected, texting was the top activity of cell phone using teens with taking and sharing pictures, playing music, and recording and exchanging videos also being popular uses.

Worldwide Use of Cell Phones

Mobile device use has become a world-wide phenomenon allowing informal learning and social networking to cross over geographical divides.  Pew Research (2011) released a report entitled, Texting, Social Networking Popular Worldwide.  The three key findings from this report that support mobile-driven community-building activities are:

  1. Cell phones are owned and used throughout the world.
  2. Cell phones are being used for texting, taking photos, and using the Internet. Cell phones are owned by large majorities of people in most major countries around the world.  They are used for much more than just phone calls. In particular, text messaging is a global phenomenon – across the 21 countries surveyed, a median of 75% of cell phone owners say they text.
  3. Young people worldwide are likely to use their cell phones for social networking (Pew Research, 2011).

The usage is similar to that seen with United States teens.  Text messaging is prevalent in 19 of 21 countries with a majority of mobile phone owners regularly sending text messages.  Many also use their mobile phones to take pictures and record video (Pew Research, 2011).

Mobile device use crosses across socio-economic boundaries and geographic locations.  People are using them for texting, photo-sharing, and other forms of social networking.  In other words, people are already using mobile devices to build their own informal learning and sharing communities, so it becomes a natural progression and extension to bring this type of learning into the educational environment.

Finally, here is a slidedeck that I use when presenting on this topic:

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

May 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Zoom: Communicating Perspective (QR Code Activity)

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Zoom: Communicating Perspective is a new mobile learning activity added to those found at Mobile and Technology-Enhanced Experiential Activities. This website describes mobile learning and technology-based activities that facilitate a sense of community in a variety of educational and training settings. They rely mostly on texting, emailing, and photo-taking activities.  Free, group sharing internet sites are also used which require access to the Internet via a smartphone or computer.  Sites such as Flickr Photo Sharing, Google Docs, and Web 2.0 tools supplement some of the activities.

Zoom: Communicating Perspective (QR Code Activity)

Goals

  • To build communication and problem solving skills.
  • To understand and develop perspective taking.
  • To build visual literacy skills.

Materials

  • One mobile device with QR Code reader per one or two learners
  • A copy of “Zoom” by Istvan Banyai (could be done without but it honors and compensates the author)

Procedures

  • This game is based on the intriguing, wordless, picture book “Zoom” by Istvan Banyai which consists of sequential “pictures within pictures”.  The Zoom narrative moves from a rooster to a ship to a city street to a desert island and outer space.  Zoom has been published in 18 countries.
  • Hand out one QR Code/Image (see below or the original post via the link above for a downloadable PDF) per person/per pair (make sure a continuous sequence is used).
  • After QR codes are distributed and images are accessed, tell participants may only look at their own pictures and must keep their pictures hidden from others.
  • Encourage participants to study their picture, since it contains important information to help solve this challenge. The advantage of using mobile devices is that learners can zoom in on details of the image.  It is the facilitator’s choice whether or not to tell learners this.
  • The challenge is for the group to sequence the pictures in the correct order without looking at one another’s pictures.  They are to use only verbal communications to describe the images they have.
  • When the group believes they have all the pictures in order, they can indicate so and the pictures on the mobile devices can be viewed by everyone.  Share the book or the following video so they can see the level of correctness in their order.
  • A follow-up discussion can include characteristics of effective communication, how perspective affects how we see and communicate, using visuals to communicate.

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

January 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm

First Class Ice Breakers Using Mobile Devices

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I previously wrote about the importance of beginning a class focusing on the learners in the room as opposed to the content to be covered in Beginning the School Year: It’s About Connections Not Content.

Most classes, starting with about middle school, begin the school year with reviewing the content to be covered, expectations regarding grades, and other academic information provided by the teacher or instructor.  The human or social element is often disregarded.

What is interesting is that most learners enter the classroom wondering who is in the course.  They want to know about the teacher and the people in the class not what material is to be covered. What this says to me as an educator is that it all begins with a social connection – between the educator and the learners, and between the learners themselves.

All of my classes, regardless of student age or demographics – elementary gifted students or graduate students, begin with ice-breakers and team-building activities.  I recently developed a passion for using students’ mobile devices to do so as this devices have become natural and personalized extensions of students’ “selves.”

What follows are several of the mobile-driven ice-breakers I recently used in an undergraduate course on Interpersonal Relations.  I also include some student reactions to these activities.

Cell Sharing

  • Ask participants to locate a photo, song, or video from their mobile device that best represents them.
  • Each person then shares his or her media and the reason it was selected.
  • For photo or video sharing:  Pass the device around so all students can view the image or use a webcam to project the image onto a larger computer screen or whiteboard.
  • For sharing of music: Attach portable speakers to assist with the sharing of songs so others can hear them.

Student Reflections about Cell Sharing

Several students stated that this was their favorite activity of the class.

I thought it was awesome that you wanted everyone to show the class a picture or type of music that had meaning to us. By doing this we got to see and learn a little bit more of our peers.

We did a photo/audio thing which was my favorite activity because we got to learn a little bit of everyone’s lives

Question Selector

Texting Interviews

  • Randomly pair students (can be either face-to-face or virtually).
  • Ask them to develop questions that they would ask to help them get to know someone better.
  • The pairs text their questions and answers back and forth.
  • Interviewers summarize what they found out about their partners and posts their partners’ names and this information on a Sticky Note Board such as Wallwisher.

Student Reflection About the Texting Interviews

I enjoyed the texting exercise. It’s pretty cool when your teacher lets you use your phone for the activities especially since I got to learn more about my partner.

Student Reflections About the Ice Breaker Activities

I think that those games helped us get to know each other and were a very good ice breaker to help us know who our class mates are.

We played many activities and I believe that they all helped in breaking the ice between us all. We were able to get to know each other easier and faster than in a typical classroom environment.

I learned to communicate better instead of hanging back in a corner.

Although we all come from different backgrounds and cultures we all related quite well and by learning about each other we can start to establish friendships

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

January 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm

An Experiential, Mobile-Device Driven Communications Exercise

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This past week in my undergraduate interpersonal communications course, I adapted the Bridge-It communications exercise to incorporate my students’ (most ages 17-20) mobile devices.  It combined some of my favorite instructional strategies:

Procedures

First. students were asked to line up in the classroom on a continuum from those who believed they had the best, most effective communication (verbal and listening) skills to those who thought they lacked those skills.  They counted off by three’s to form three groups.  The top three self-reported communicators were asked to be the communicators, the others were the builders.

Next, groups were moved to separate rooms, given the same set of building blocks and their task . . .

Build a three-dimensional structure using all the pieces provided.  All three structures need to be exact in dimension and in color patterns.  The communicators can use their cell phones via text and/or voice to communicate with the other groups.

No time limits were set.  When the teams believed they successfully completed the task, they could send pictures of their structures to one another.

Reflections

After the completion of the activity, reactions and reflections were posted on a Voicethread slide using an image taken during the activity and quickly uploaded to Voicethread.

Comments included:

I loved doing this project! It was fun to get to know the class and it was interesting to figure all of this out without being in the same room with one another. We all worked very well together after we figured out what we were doing.

The activity showed we all communicated very well. The best way we were going to build our structure was to communicate by one and to make sure we had everything in place. i learned that communicating with good instructions will make it successful.

This activity showed how well we can communicate with each other. I learned that we can communicate well if given proper instructions that are detailed and precise.

Follow-Up

Next class students will be shown video clips of their participation in the activity.  Since the topic is on nonverbal communication, they will be asked to text to Wifitti what the nonverbal behaviors they witnessed during each of the clips.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

November 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm

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