Successful Group Work is a short book of 13 activities for teaching teamwork skills. Palmer begins by writing about some benefits of group work in the EFL classroom, such as increased student talk time and the chance to negotiate meaning. She highlights, however, that to ensure group work is effective learners first need to be aware of what makes it a success – that’s where teambuilding skills come in. Activities in the book are designed as a ‘complete course’, helping students identify and develop the necessary teamwork skills in order to succeed in group projects.
In defining ‘teamwork skills’, Palmer refers to a list compiled by the Conference Board of Canada, clearly stating how each of the activities in the book focus on these various skills. Some examples include:
Recognising and respecting diversity
Contributing to a team
Understanding and working within the dynamics of a group
Planning, designing or carrying out a task
There are some good tips in the introduction about setting clear expectations and post-task reflection. (more…)
I’ve just received a copy of the latest book from Alphabet Publishing. Walton Burns is following up last year’s ’50 Activities for the First Day of School’ with a new cookbook of ideas for building a classroom community.
Burns states this book is a natural continuation to his previous offering, which was a compendium of icebreaking activities. Having considered the role of icebreakers more, he reflects that these types of activity aren’t always used effectively in lessons. Many icebreakers encourage teamwork, and are best used when they are a) relevant to the content of the class, and b) give learners the feeling of accomplishment. With this in mind, he offers a range of activities that go beyond simple rapport builders – aiming instead to build a culture of collaboration and community from day one.
You might not need to encourage your students to take control of their learning. I do. My teens aren’t used to working independently or undertaking tasks without the teacher directing proceedings.
Our current topic is health and fitness. I found this great information booklet online entitled ‘Take charge of your health’, which was aimed specifically at teens. It looks like this, and you can access it here.
Here’s a great group task for retelling a story. I came across it during the British Council summer school here in Bangkok. My teen group were doing activities based on the movie ‘Jumanji’, but this can work for any movie, fairytale, etc.
First, summarise your story in 100 words or so. You could use an existing plot summary from IMDB or even Wikipedia, and just cut it down as needed.
Once you’ve got the text, write it out into a table so that each word is in one of 4 columns, Here’s an example for the first sentence:
In 1869, two boys bury a mysterious and magical game – Jumanji.
Here’s the important part. Jumble each line of the text up so the words are in a different order. Then number each line to help learners keep track of where they are. Here’s the handout I gave them: (more…)