Sunday, June 7, 2009

Student Development: TeamBuilding Program Overview

Below are notes from a student development program that Create-Learning-TeamBuilding recently completed for a School in Buffalo, New York.
The program was for 140 of the outgoing 8th grade students.


The students will be engaged in a facilitated experiential based program with a focus on Critical-Thinking & Problem Solving.
The Critical Thinking Model applied will be as follows;
Step 1 Describe - state what it is
Step 2 Analyze - break it down into its component parts
Step 3 Name the parts
Step 4 Look at the relationships between the parts
Step 5 What are the possible problems/issues with these relationships?
Step 6 Evaluate the ‘problems’
Step 7 Imagine an alternative
Step 8 Apply steps 1-7 to the alternative.
(These steps are built around Bloom’s taxonomy)

Learner Outcomes:
· Skills in critical thinking & problem solving
· Increasing pro-social skills amongst the students
· Allow for students to create new friendships
· Strengthen School student community
· Begin to foster thought about making a successful transition to the 9th grade
· Greater team work between students
· Strengthened bond between students
· Strengthened bond between faculty and students

All activity stations are subject to change on program day
Activity Station 1 -
Infinite Loop
Participants are asked to choose a partner; both participants are then intertwined together with ropes and have to separate from their partner. An additional guideline is that all the groups must be separate within the given time.
The concept of working through a problem that seems to have no obvious solution is a valuable skill. Creative, outside the box thinking is required. Retracing the steps between the initial formation of the puzzle, and finally solving the puzzle, provides a roadmap for future investigations and solutions to other problems. Finding the answer as part of a group investigation and then sharing the solution is also a living lesson of critical thinking within the classroom.

Activity Station 2 -
Turning Over a New Leaf
The participants are challenged with flipping a tarp as a group without stepping off.
Focus on problem solving, group discussions, setting goals, working together as a team, learning from mistakes.

Activity Station 3 -
Blind Polygon
The team forms a circle with arms outstretched, drops hands and sits down. Team members put blindfolds on. Facilitator places the rope in the middle of the circle. The group is instructed to form perfect square with each team member holding on to the rope. No team member can let go of the rope. When group members feel the task is completed, they can take off the blindfolds to check the results.
Focus on Algebraic Shapes also exploration of effective team communication

Activity Station 4 -
Putting it all Together
Participants are split into groups of 3-5.
Each group is asked to assemble a bunch of PVC pipes so that there are no open holes.
This activity is rich in outcomes. Reading for comprehension and following the rules, organizing your workspace and equipment, taking inventory (of items and team talents), working as a team, using all the available information, taking care of the team vs. getting the job done, starting over if necessary, empowering other team members, and celebrating a job well done are some of the possibilities.

Activity Station 5 -
Students must transport various objects (marbles, tennis balls, squeaky toys, bowling balls, etc…) through pieces of plastic pipe that they hold.
Exploration of planning and goal setting, additionally looking at what the thinking and group objectives within the planning of this initiative can accomplish when applied to scholastic problem solving. The students will explore various ways to use existing resources and perhaps develop their own systems for highly successful transport of the objects.

Activity Station 6 -
Tying the Knot
This is one of those, “It seems so easy” activities.
Each student is given a length of rope, then we connect all the students holding ends of each-others rope. The group must tie an overhand knot in the center rope.
Focus on Critical thinking of steps 1-7 will be weaved into the activity.
Once the participants begin to listen to others ideas and can think outside themselves, success will arrive. The challenge for many teams in doing this is that the team members shout and no one listens.

Activity Station 7 -
Hole Tarp
Each participant is asked to hold the edge of a tarp with 5 holes cut into it. The entire team must now maneuver a tennis ball 360 degrees around each separate hole without the ball falling through or off the tarp.
Focus on communication of team members. For success team members must use names and all work together. Developing a thinking strategy while identifying which parts of initiative are blocking success.

Activity Station 8 -
Bandanna, Cup, Marble
Participants are first split into groups of 3. The group of 3 will transport a cup upside down with a marble on top, while keeping the cup tightly stretched on a bandanna. Communication, small group discussion as well as instituting critical thinking mindset will lead to success.
Round 2 the group of 3 becomes 6, and the challenge is larger.
Round 3 the entire group is asked to complete a larger set of bandanna, cup, marble tasks.

8th Grade Community Puzzle - the participants will be split into groups of 10-11 participants. Each group will have a bag of large white jig saw puzzle pieces and many boxes of crayons. Each participant will be asked to use their piece of the puzzle to symbolize, what they learned about themselves today and how they can use what was learned in the future.
Following time for the participants to work alone, the faculty member will be asked to facilitate the participants in sharing their pieces. There is no requirement for the participants to share, all that the faculty member does is lets those who want to share, talk about their piece.
Following a sharing of your piece of the puzzle the small group is asked to assemble their puzzle.
Once all the small groups have assembled their puzzle, all groups are asked to bring their puzzle to the center of the gym. All groups are now asked to put their puzzles together, making a large shared 8th Grade School Community Puzzle. Participants are then asked to walk around and view the puzzle pieces.

Contact Us -
To Facilitate your School Student Development and
Team Building Program.

-Michael Cardus is the founder of Create-Learning-Team Building, an experiential based training and development consulting organization, as well as a blogger for TeamBuilding NY. Mike specializes in team development and leadership development consulting and training, creating team-building programs that retain talented staff members, increase production and effectiveness of your team. He lives in Buffalo, NY, and travels to you to serve your team-building and leadership training needs, wherever and whenever fits your schedule.