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Monday, November 28, 2016

First Grade Teamwork Lesson

In September, First Grade was working on a Unit of Inquiry called Communities. One of the first grade teachers suggested that I do a lesson on working as a team to connect to the unit of inquiry. I opted to use Julia Cook's Book Teamwork Isn't My Thing and I Don't Like to Share. I love Julia Cook's books and the kids seem to feel the same. Be prepared for some students shouting out "Ewww!" and "Gross!" as Norma the "booger picker" makes an appearance in the book.

Introduction and Book
I started my lesson off asking students what teamwork is. I also asked them to explain to me how I would know that they were working as a team or what behaviors show that a group is working as a team. Many students said things like "not yelling at each other" or sharing. I would use what students said to transition into the book. Then I would start to read Teamwork Isn't My Thing and I Don't Like to Share. I would pause for some questions, but at this age, many students just want to share comments. Sometimes the comments aren't even related to the topic at hand. You have to balance how many questions or comments are allowed or you'll never finish your book or activity. After we finished the book, I told students that I would be calling them by tables to quietly go back to their seats. I explained the activity and directions before I let them go back though. It's best to prep students for the activity before you let them go back to their seats or it will be a free for all.

At first I wasn't sure what to ask first graders to do that demonstrated teamwork. I didn't want to buy six sets of legos. Older students may be asked to get in order by birthdays or shortest to tallest without talking. Then I remembered a video I saw during one of my Leader in Me trainings. A teacher asked students to work as a team to put puzzles together. Not only did they have to work as a team, but as a class, because she switched pieces of the puzzles. I decided that would be a good idea for my lesson on teamwork. 

Instead of buying puzzles, I made them. I printed out 6 fall-themed free coloring book pages. I colored them and on the back I drew puzzle pieces in pencil. Then I cut them out. Next I traced each puzzle piece onto a scrap piece of cardboard (picture facing down) and cut the cardboard out with a box cutter. Finally, I took modge podge and glued down the coloring pages on the puzzle pieces. 

After the puzzles dried, I put them each in their own ziploc bag. Before I would go to a lesson, I'd switch out a puzzle piece from each bag. I asked students to pass out the puzzle pieces to each person in their group so that everyone had at least one piece. I told them to work together to put the puzzle together. Sometimes there was fighting and I would have to remind students how to work as a team. Some students were able to figure out that they had a piece that didn't belong to their puzzle. Other times, I had to stop the class and tell them that they needed to work with other students in their class because I mixed up the puzzle pieces. As students finished their puzzles, I asked them to show me and then clean up the puzzle and put it back in the bag as a team. 

At the end of the lesson, I stopped students to ask them again what teamwork is. I asked them again what behaviors show that a group is working as a team. Then I took it a step further and asked how they can work as a team every day. Some students got this and others needed a little help. I would talk to them about sports teams or "table teams." If teachers have students set up by tables, this is a good connection. Group projects and classes also work to make teamwork connections.

Overall, I thought that the lesson went pretty well. You will have opportunities for teachable moments. Students will pull puzzle pieces out of their peers' hands. They will try to put the puzzle together on their own. They will get mad and cry because they think their classmates aren't being fair. This is natural if students have not been taught how to work together with other students. Maybe they are an only child, so they don't have to share at home. Maybe they've never been on a sports team. Maybe no one taught them the individual skills involved in teamwork such as being polite, sharing, taking turns, etc. Sometimes after reminding a certain student of the behaviors that are involved in working as a team, the same student would revert back to the behavior as soon as I walked away. In this case, I had to remove them from the group and ask them to move their clip. I hate doing that as the school counselor, but behaviors like this can't be taught in five minutes. These are the students you may want to consider for your friendship, social skills, coping skills, and anger groups OR they may already be in them! 

Leader in Me Inspiration
Habit 6 in LIM is Synergize. The definition of synergize is to work as a team or collaborate. This is a great lesson to teach students about synergizing. If you have already taught your students Habit 6, all you have to do is use the vocabulary associated with this habit. Instead of saying, "What behaviors show you are working as a team?" try saying "What behaviors show you are synergizing?"

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