Top 10 Team Building Activities

When planning team-building activities the teacher needs to take into consideration some the following things about their students: skills and abilities, special education, English Language Learners and multiple intelligences. It is never wise to group friends together during formative assessments as friends sometimes learn best when apart. The teacher should always choose partners and activities wisely and based on varying skills, abilities and intelligences. With hope, this will help those who are struggling be partnered up with those who are excellent mentors. Taking all of this into consideration, here are the top 10 team-building activities.


1. Think/Pair/Share

Teachers find that students need to be prepared for group work in small and gradual steps. When a teacher forces students to do teamwork right away one or two students take the lead while others listen and stay quiet. If teachers would like everyone to participate they should pose a question such as: What do you predict you will do during the summer holidays? The student is given a moment to think of the answer. The teacher takes the activity to the next level by asking the students to pair up their answers with a partner. When complete, the two students will share their answers with two more students. This time…each student will discuss their partner’s situation and answer the question: How is my summer going to be similar or different than my partner’s? Everyone is able to participate and the teacher will be able to assess whether the students can use higher order thinking skills.


2. Jigsaw:

Developed by American Psychologist Elliot Aronson, the purpose of a jigsaw activity is to stimulate cooperative and social development of diverse groups of students. Students are divided into groups of 4 where they examine one aspect of an event such as the Holocaust. In their home groups, they would utilize the material provided and examine one group exterminated by the Nazis. Using numbering heads, they would then move to their expert group where they would share their knowledge they learned in their home groups. Jigsaws can be accompanied by graphic organizers. The whole activity helps students focus on researching one aspect and not 5 or 10. It also allows students to work together to obtain information.


3. Fishbowl Discussion:

As stated before, students learn best when activities are broken down into steps. When introducing a hot topic or issue, have students discuss in pairs. When complete…have 5-6 students sitting in the middle as a cluster discussing and debating the issue introduced. The rest of the class sits on the outer circle and take notes and writes down questions down. When complete, the students in the outer circle are able to reflect and evaluate the arguments of the cluster group. Teachers should facilitate better discussions by repeating the fishbowl discussion with different participants.


4. Popcorn review:

This activity allows for students to participate in an intellectual and scholarly debate. The teacher chooses 4 students who will sit at the front of the room. A heated topic is introduced. One student provides a statement, followed by another student who adds to the statement. This is one teambuilding experience where students are exploring different facts and examining their validity.


5. Graphic Organizers:

I was teaching grade 11 law class for the first time. I had 3 weeks to cover the first unit. When it came to review, I had one day to cover the history of law from Plato and Aristotle to the 20th Century. I knew it was going to be hard for students to study everything. The whole test was based on 11 short answer questions which covered different themes in the unit. In groups of 4 or 5, students would examine the SPERM (Social, Political, Economic/Environmental, Religious, and Moral) aspects of one theme in the form of a graphic organizer. I didn’t want essays and I did not want paragraphs. I wanted my students to create a chart or a picture which helped explain the topic. I then photocopied all graphic organizers and distributed them amongst all students. To ensure that each student participated, one student would examine one aspect of sperm.

Reward: Bonus 3 marks on the test (1 mark for level 1 work, 2 marks for level 2 work, 3 marks for level 3 work).


6. Read-Write-Pair-Share:

Before introducing a book to read, a teacher should pose a Higher Order Thinking Skills question. Students begin by either reading silently or following along as the teacher reads aloud. Students then are instructed to quickly write their impressions and reactions to the text or answer to the question posed by the teacher before reading. They then pair up with a partner who they share with what they have written. When sharing with broader groups, I usually have students discuss their partner’s answer and not theirs to spice things up a bit.


7. Tableaus:

This activity is a great team building exercise for two main reasons. Everyone is able to contribute individually and collectively as a group. Everyone creates and contributes to an image which they think best describes the situation they were reading about or researching. This activity takes a lot of practice and a lot of skill where students need to work together to achieve the final product.


8. Scavenger Hunts:

To introduce geography or even 3-d geometry, I usually begin with a scavenger hunt. It is fun for everyone as all students race to win first as if it was the Amazing Race. For example, in geography I introduced the role of a compass and different coordinates on a compass rose to students. I did a tour of the city and school, and showed them where they would go if they went west, east, north or south. To assess student understanding to build social skills and teamwork, I had students go on a scavenger hunt. Clues were scattered around the school, where they had to solve the riddle before going onto the next clue. To make sure everyone did their part, each student could not complete more than two tasks. You’d be surprised how many students put their differences aside to get rewards.


9. Icebreakers:

These activities allow for students to get to know each other in different ways. It allows them to get out of their seats and ask questions to their fellow classmates about different interests. To get a reward, they need to fill up the whole sheet. This is an excellent team building activity as it gets all students to talk and interact with each other.


10. Blind Obstacles:

Working in pairs, students learn to trust one another to get through obstacles and complete tasks. As one is blindfolded, the other is the guide. The person guiding the person who is blindfolded needs to provide proper instructions. The person blindfolded needs to learn to trust his/her partner. As trust is built, teamwork is achieved quite well.


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