Building Teams

Posted: May 21, 2011 in Classroom Environment
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The development of an effective class culture begins on the first day of class but may take several class periods to develop. Students are typically uncomfortable working with people they don’t know. Team building activities are excellent ways to break down the barriers and begin to build relationships. During the first several class periods, students should work with as many different classmates in teams as possible. This can be achieved by assigning students to teams by their favorite foods, birthdates, number of siblings, shoe size, and so on. Once the day’s teams are assigned, conduct a 10-minute class activity with the intent to get students talking to one another in a discussion that may not be related to mathematics. By allowing students to interact on a level playing field in terms of knowledge and experience, students learn to share ideas, debate, challenge, and argue rather than worry about what they will look like to their classmates in terms of their mathematical “know-how”.

The goal of these team building activities is to build a culture that will transfer to mathematical learning. Time spent developing an effective classroom culture through team building pays dividends throughout the course. The deep learning that occurs when students are engaged in an empowered learning environment prevents having to re-teach material that would not have been learned in a less engaging, instructor-centered environment. An added benefit of the team building activities is that students learn how to work effectively in a team, negotiate conflict, and communicate clearly.


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