Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Teamwork Time #3: Collaborating Across the Grade Levels!

After the beginning of the year, I can get so focused on academics that some other areas suffer, but as I have been reflecting I realized that we needed to start building in teamwork time again. It's that time of year when behavior issues can start flaring up and often it comes back to the fact that kids don't always know how to appropriately play and interact with each other. Here are a couple of things we have been up to recently!

Inquiry Buddies

One thing I have been able to start back up this year after a year or two break was book buddies with an older class. Except the other teacher and I decided our kids would be inquiry buddies because we wanted to engage in a variety of activities this year!

We have done book buddies twice and another time played games. Have you watched kids play games these days? It is interesting... taking turns in a circle, playing by the rules, problem solving, I have realized do not come naturally. So we had 4th and 1st graders spread out all over the room playing sorry, trouble, memory, jenga, headbandz, etc. For the most part they played the games well and it was good for the first graders to learn from the 4th graders.

Last week, we did our first inquiry project together! After watching the Landfill Harmonic we got to work using some trash to create treasures!

I've done a similar project before but I noticed that my kids had some ideas, but they were able to get a lot more elaborate with the help of the 4th graders! 

The 4th graders were so sweet to work with my kiddos too and help build off of their ideas! 

We had a great time collaborating and I am already thinking of some ways that we can work together when we start our next unit!

Problem Solving Words

or The Morning Meeting Book and I have used it for several years, but this year I have really pushed it and I hear the kids using it all the time! So often we tell kids to problem solve, but do not give them the words to do it. A couple weeks into the school year we will talk about our problem solving words and then we talk about scenarios and kids practice the language. Once they have the language to problem solve they can take ownership of their solutions. Besides, no teacher has time to problem solve every "he stole my pencil" situation! ;) We talk about how these can be used for happy feelings too and try to use it in both situations. We also discussed different feeling words because I have noticed that can be lacking in their vocabulary as well.
This year I have a Peace Keeper, for super tricky situations, but they haven't really had to do their job at all. I saw another teacher tell two kids that we end our problems with a hug, hand shake, or high five to show we are friends again, so I have encouraged my kids to do that too. And really, by the time the boys complete their little secret hand shake, it seems like they have pretty much forgotten what the problem was in the first place!

Our next focus for building collaboration/teamwork are some of those social skills that are keeping us from moving forward in building that deeper trust and collaboration. One of our school's amazing teachers has provided us with some social skills lessons that we are going to work through over the next several weeks. I'm excited to use them and hope that it will start to bring about some of the change I need to see in a couple of those kids that are struggling! It may mean losing some minutes for a workshop station, but when it comes down to it, I think keeping a focus all through out the year on building those collaboration skills will be more beneficial to their academic careers!

You can see my other teamwork time posts here and here.

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