Cooperative Learning Team Building Activities

Cooperative learning strategies for team building are effective because individuals must work together to achieve a similar goal.
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Cooperative learning is a teaching and learning technique where students interact with one another to meet common learning goals. Cooperative learning is more than “group work,” however. To implement cooperative learning in the classroom, teachers must create structured activities that increase the potential for deep learning while also building collaboration among students. Cooperative learning works best when individuals operate like a single team, so team building activities can be used as preparation for other cooperative learning strategies.

1 Find Someone Who

This cooperative learning strategy allows students to get to know one another while practicing acquiring information in a cooperative manner. Students find other individuals in the class who have something in common with them, and then they identify something that is different between themselves and another person. They then present that person to the rest of the group. Instructors can create prompts to get the students started, such as, “Find someone who has the same birth month as you.” The entire group can also work together to find the similarities and differences.

2 Jigsaw

The jigsaw approach gathers groups of students -- home groups -- which are then divided into new groups -- expert groups -- whose members must become experts on a topic. The home groups are made up of students who read different texts, and the expert groups are made up of students who read the same text. After meeting with their expert group, individuals return to their home groups to teach their topic to the other members of the home group. The jigsaw method can be used for any activity that requires students to acquire new knowledge. Using this cooperative learning approach allows students to work with two separate groups of people to achieve two different tasks.

3 Team Talk

For this team building activity, put questions on a spinner or create cards using slips of paper or index cards. Each group sits together with the common goal of getting to know each other through a series of questions. These questions could be anything that gets students talking about themselves, such as “If you could have one wish, what is it and why?” or “Where would you go on vacation if you could go anywhere, and why?” This activity can be expanded so that students change groups or rotate groups, answering different questions with different groups.

4 Writearound

The instructor starts the activity by giving part of a sentence to each group of students, and a students in the group must then finish that sentence before passing it to the student on the right. The next student reads the sentence and adds another. After adding a new sentence, each student passes the paper to the right, and then the next student reads the paper they receive and adds a sentence to the already existing sentences. After a few rounds of this, stories begin to emerge. The groups can then share their stories with the entire class. This activity is great for team building because it is a silent activity where students get to know one another through their ideas, rather than just through sharing facts about themselves.

Alyssa Sellors has been in the field of education for five years, teaching English and journalism at the high school level. In addition to teaching, she has also advised the school newspaper and currently advises the yearbook. As a yearbook adviser, she speaks at national conventions hosted by Journalism Educator’s Association and the National Scholastic Press Association.