September 28, 2018
by Meena Srinivasan

Lesson plan

Working Effectively In Groups

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Grade Subject

Students will be able to work as a team through the human knot activity and generate teamwork guidelines for their class.

(5 minutes)
  • Gather students into a circle either seated in chairs or on the floor.
  • Remind students about the circle guidelines they created: the raised hand attention signal and talking piece (every week each student rotates and brings in a talking piece that means something to them).
  • Have the student introduce the talking piece for the week.
  • Welcome each student into the circle using the talking piece (each student welcomes another student in the circle).
  • Share that today during circle time, they will be learning how to work effectively as a team and understand what teamwork means.
(15 minutes)
  • Share with your students that this year, there will be a number of times when they will work in groups so it is important to learn how to work together.
  • Introduce the concept of teamwork through sharing about your favorite sports team and how each member of the team contributes in different ways. If you don't have a favorite sports team talk about a play or orchestra—go over how each person plays a unique role and has a specific responsibility to the team.
  • Pair students off and have each pair brainstorm 3–5 words that connect with teamwork.
  • Have pairs share out and chart student answers.
  • Have each pair join another pair and, using the words generated in the brainstorm, each group of four will come up with a definition for teamwork.
  • Chart group definitions.
  • As a class, come up with 3–4 guidelines for working as a team.
(15 minutes)
  • Share that students will be testing out their teamwork guidelines through the human knot activity.
  • Have students stand up in a circle. If you have a large class, create 2–3 smaller circles so circles are no larger than 10.
  • Have everyone raise their right hand and grab the hand of someone across the circle from them. No one should hold the hand of the person standing next to them.
  • Have everyone put their left hand up in the air and grab the hand of a different person.
  • Ensure that everyone is holding the hands of two different people and double-check that they are not holding hands with someone directly next to them. The group should be all knotted up.
  • Instruct students that their goal is to untangle themselves without breaking the chain. If the chain is broken they need to start over.
  • Give students 6–8 minutes to untangle themselves.
  • Stop students after 10 minutes, even if they didn’t end up in a circle from untangling their human knot, to debrief the process and reflect on how they worked as a team.
  • Ask: Would you add any additional teamwork guidelines to the ones they generated before the human knot?
  • Add additional guidelines if necessary.
(10 minutes)
  • Have the students remain in a circle and complete the Teamwork Reflection Questions worksheet.
  • Support any students that need help.
  • Enrichment: Advanced students will have more descriptive answers to the worksheet.
  • Support: Struggling students may need to be paired with the teacher or teacher’s aide initially.
(5 minutes)
  • During guided practice and independent work time, look to see who is in need of support. Sit closer to them and give clues and encouragement.
  • Review what students detail in the worksheet as a class and add what teamwork looks like and sounds like to the teamwork guidelines.
(5 minutes)
  • Have each student share one takeaway from this lesson or one way they will practice being a good team member this year.

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