Building Teamwork Skills Lesson Plan – Create a Newspaper Tower

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Summary:

An engaging, co-operative learning task/lesson plan for the beginning of the school year.
This particular activity and lesson plan allows students to practise their teamwork skills by putting them into specific actions. It breakdowns teamwork language into actions, provides teamwork opportunities and allows students to reflect on the effectiveness of their team.  

I have used this activity in the past at the beginning of the school year, after co-creating classroom expectations, learning about teamwork and group work roles so students are well aware of classroom expectations. It gives students an opportunity to get to know one another and practise strategies for working together and getting along. Students often know how teamwork should look, sound and feel but find it much more difficult to put these skills into actions. This activity allows students to put their learning into actions in an engaging and reflective way.

Students:

  • practise following classroom rules/expectations
  • assign and select Group Work Roles to share the workload evenly
  • develop and practise teamwork skills
  • self-assess using Thinking Hats and specific criteria.
  • reflect on their individual contribution to a team and the team’s effectiveness
  • receive teacher feedback

Australian Curriculum Links:

Personal & Social Capability

LEVEL 3

Self Awareness

Recognise emotions – describe the influence that people, situations and events have on their emotions.

Recognise personal qualities and achievements – describe personal strengths and challenges and identify skills they wish to develop.

Understand themselves as learners – identify and describe factors and strategies that assist their learning.

Develop reflective practice – reflect on personal strengths and achievements, based on self-assessment strategies and teacher feedback.

Social Management

Communicate effectively – identify communication skills that enhance relationships for particular groups and purposes

Work collaboratively – describe characteristics of cooperative behaviour and identify evidence of these in group activities

Prior to Lesson:

  • Students should have been involved in activities and discussions about effective teamwork Eg/ Have the class create a Y-chart about what teamwork looks like, sounds like and feels like or a teamwork T chart (teamwork is and teamwork is not). Have students practise teamwork by completing role plays of simple scenarios they think show teamwork in a school environment, home environment and wider community.
  • Co-creation of classroom rules and expectations should have happened and displayed clearly around the classroom so they can easily be referred to.
  • If you are going to be using group work roles I would advise to do these beforehand. Group work roles and role descriptions should have been created ((Noise monitor, Reporter, Time monitor, Recorder, Gopher (the person to collect materials) and/or any other roles your class believes will be important))

NEWSPAPER TOWER (DESIGN, CREATE, ASSESS)

Materials:

  • Newspapers
  • 1 metre ruler or measuring tapes (for measuring height only)
  • A roll of masking Tape per group
  • 1 pair of scissors per group
  • Enough space for each group to have their own floor space.
  • Tower criteria sheet for each group
  • Teacher Criteria Assessment sheet
  • Camera (for students to take photos)
  • Photos Printed off for Session 3.
  • Photo with speech bubbles example (need to make this up yourself)
  • Thinking Hats Reflection Worksheet
  •  1 Butchers paper per team & coloured textas (for planning and design ideas)

Tower Criteria:

  • The newspaper tower needs to be over 100 centimetres tall.
  • You must only use materials supplied.
  • You must be able to make the tower within the given time frame (30 minutes) change depending on age.
  • Your tower must be stable, (be able to stand up by itself).
  • You must follow all classroom rules.
  • You must work as a team.

Please Note: This Newspaper Tower Task would take place over 3-4 sessions.

Session 1: PLAN & DESIGN

  1. Revise Teamwork chart (T-chart or Y chart from previous lesson)
  2. Explain that we will be testing to see whether we are able to put our teamwork skills in action, while working in a group to build a newspaper tower. Also explain to them that over the next few lessons you (the teacher) will be observing and taking note of students using teamwork skills.
  3. Tell students the materials they will be able to use. (List on the whiteboard)
  4. Get students into groups of 4 (approximately) and tell them to sit in close circle, while remaining with the entire group on the floor.
  5. Hand each group the Tower Criteria and go through together as a grade.
  6. Give students 1 minute of silent ‘think time’ to consider strategies and individual ideas of ways to go about making the tower.
  7. Afterwards, allow each group a few minutes to discuss their ideas as an effective team (again refer to T-chart or Y-chart), asking the students…. Think about what might be the best way to share ideas…. Eg/ Taking turns, not calling out, considering all ideas even if they are different to your own etc
  8. Explain we are doing the planning and design stage today. Have written on the whiteboard…

PLAN & DESIGN

The design should be detailed, labelled sketch, notes, agreed upon by the team.

 Consider:         The Newspaper Tower Criteria

                                        How will we make sure we work well as a team?

                                                  Are there any challenges? (possible solutions)

(Any questions to clarify?)

(Tell students where the butchers paper is and where the textas are for planning and to find a space in the room to work at where all group members can contribute to the design)

  1. Afterwards allow each group to go to tables and…… Assign group work roles (if you decide to use them– see attachment, would have to be created in a previous lesson) and to draw a design and take notes as to how they might go about building the tower.
  2. Give students a specific amount of time to work on design and explain that they will need to present and report about their design to the class at the end of the lesson.
  3. Allow 10-12 minutes for the sharing of the designs at the end of the lesson.

Session 2: CREATE

  1. Begin lesson with students sitting with their group and design.
  2. Revise materials they are allowed to use.
  3. Revise Tower Criteria ensuring each group has a copy.
  4. If using Group work roles, remind teams to ensure each member knows their individual responsibility.
  5. Explain that the teacher will be making observations on teamwork skills.
  6. Explain that if their design is not working they are allowed to make alterations from their design as they go in order to achieve criteria.
  7. Give a time limit.
  8. Allow students to work as a team to build their tower.
  9. Remember to allow time for cleaning up.

*Note: I allowed students to use cameras to record the progress of their tower building and them using teamwork.

Session 3: ASSESS

  1. Students all sit together on the floor. Teacher models what she expects from students as far as presenting their Newspaper Tower to the grade. Teacher also shows an A3 Newspaper Tower Criteria to the class and models how it is to be filled out.

Tick/cross/ additional notes

Eg/ Was our tower over 100cm tall? Measure it and check. Yes it is so we give this criteria point a tick, in the additional notes you could put, It was 104 cm. etc

  1. Students sit with their group, their design and their tower in a space within the classroom.
  2. As a group students go through the Tower Criteria and fill it out making sure they are using teamwork skills. Students also use this time to figure out who will be saying what when presenting to the grade.
  3. Students come back to the floor and each group shares how they went according to criteria and presents their tower.

————————————————————————————–

  1. Prior to lesson make sure you have printed off the photos that students have taken of them building their tower and using team work. Print off more than one of each photo.
  2. Students take a photo- paste it in the middle of a page in their workbook, the picture needs to have speech bubbles going around it, of things they said to one another during the task that showed they worked as a team. Eg/ “Well done, James! That has made it more stable”, “I will hold it to balance it and that will make it easier for you to stick the base down”, “That’s a good idea, let’s give it a go!” etc ( I had completed an example of this and had it on display so there was no need for a lengthy explanation).
  3. While students are working individually and independently at their tables I call each group down to the floor to share the observations I made about the way their group worked as a team (provide feedback), allowing students to participate in the discussion, asking questions such as… what could we do next time to improve? How did it make you feel when….?

Session 4: ASSESS continued…

SELF REFLECTION

  1. Show Thinking Hat Reflection Worksheet and brainstorm some ideas as a class for each thinking hat.
  2. Students individually fill out Thinking Hat Reflection Worksheet. (All writing must be finished before completing picture.)
  3. Finish providing teacher feedback to groups if you didn’t get time to finish in the previous session.
  4. To finish session, ask students to share any reflections. Eg/ Red hat (feelings): *I felt happy when Sam said I was good at taking turns and fun to work with.*I felt disappointed that we were unable to complete all the criteria because our tower could not stand up by itself. Etc
  5. Take up workbooks and correct.

***All resources needed are provided in the list below.

Assessment:

  • Group self-assessment according to the Newspaper Tower Criteria.
  • Teacher observational feedback to each group on teamwork skills.
  • Thinking Hat Reflection Worksheet

Resources:

Above is a link to roles for students when completing co-operative learning. I have found the process of co-creating the roles and role descriptions much more meaningful and effective. Once the class has come up with the roles and descriptions, it is a good exercise to have them create the group role cards on the computer and then print and laminate for use in teamwork activities.

 

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Featured Image Source: http://washblog-bjg021.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/newspaper-tower.html

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