Your classroom doesn’t have to be a solo learning adventure; it can also be a collaborative learning environment. You can include some teamwork exercises in your weekly curriculum to mix up your lesson plan a bit. Group activities can support individual learning, increase student engagement and build friendships between students in the class who seldom interact otherwise.
Working on Social Skills
When students form a group, social skills kick into action. A team of students must actively listen to each other, articulate ideas and use genuinely constructive criticism to be effect. Kids must learn to work together and cooperate. This is an opportunity to make friends and talk with others; networking can start in the classroom. This is also a chance for the kids to expand their vocabulary, work on patience and learn how to take turns. Conflict resolution may also become part of the learning equation.
On a Personal Level
Each student can benefit on a personal level from teamwork. She can feel like a valued part of the group as she contributes to the project and shares her ideas, which can build confidence and self-esteem. The student will be exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking, which can expand her personal view on the subject. Teamwork activities can be the time for each student to shine and show others her skills and talents.
As you watch the teams work toward their goal, the educational benefits of teamwork become clear. As the team works, they can all offer ideas and come to conclusions together. Students not only learn by working through the team project, but they also learn by explaining their thought processes and reasoning to other students who may think differently. Teamwork also helps foster problem-solving skills, reasoning skills and group brainstorming. The students will learn to use critical thinking and evaluation skills as a group. An effective team will evenly distribute the responsibilities, readily comprehend the material, and cover more ground than if they did the homework or project individually.
The Class Environment
Days can get long and dull when you have a group of kids who are disconnected and staring at the walls. Group work is a welcome change in the normal routine and gets the kids out of their seats. Schoolwork becomes more enjoyable and rewarding when you incorporate teamwork exercises. Just make sure that you define some teamwork boundaries before you let the kids loose. The kids need to know what they should be achieving, how to tell when they have accomplished their task and how long they have for this activity; otherwise, you’ll just have clusters of talking students not staying on task.