"One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar." ---Helen Keller

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Teaching Teamwork in Order to be Engineers

Teaching children to work cooperatively is one of the most difficult, yet necessary skills that we will train them to do. 

In the schools that I work in, we are fortunate enough to have LEGO educational kits. We have the Story Starters Playhouse sets for our kindergarten classes, Early Simple Machines for our first and second graders, as well as Simple Machines for the older students. We have 9 tubs of each kind of LEGO, so that the children may work in groups of two to build the item for their lesson. In order for the lessons to be taught in the most optimum manner, children need to already have those teamwork skills in place!!!

Early Simple Machines tub


One way to introduce children to the idea of teamwork to build and solve engineering problems is in the lesson that I found in this online curriculum here.

It would take two days or more to teach this lesson adequately. I have read through and made some materials to use to teach this lesson.

To start this lesson, read a book such as Hooray for the Dandelion Warriors! (A Little Bill Book by Bill Cosby). Any book about getting along and sharing would be appropriate. This could even be done during your reading block.

Hooray for the Dandelion Warriors! (Little Bill Books for Beginning Readers)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/0590521918/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

Take time to discuss the following vocabulary words. You could certainly even stress these words over a period of time and make a game out of watching to see children demonstrating the first four traits.
  • compromise
  • share
  • respect
  • cooperate
  • evaluate

I really liked the idea of using pictures to teach vocabulary words to your students. I made a PowerPoint to go with these terms. They would be nice printed out as posters to help the children learn the new words.



On another day, show the students a paper bag with 20 LEGO pieces in it. Give them turns to shake it and predict what is inside. Then spill the pieces out for them to see.

Their challenge for the day is to cooperatively build a structure with all 20 pieces with their partner. (It can be  any 20 pieces... just make sure they will all connect in someway.)

Before they get their bags, have them role play the following situations...
  • grabbing pieces vs. taking turns
  • working on separate projects vs. teamwork
  • arguing vs. compromising
  • and of course, clean up!

Have the students evaluate the role playing with smiley faces. (You could have them hold up index cards with smile, straight, or frown OR do a thumbs up, thumbs down.) Were they respectful, cooperative, and did they share in the role playing? I think the role playing can't be overlooked. It is much like what we have learned with the Daily 5....model, model, model, what we want to see.

Then model how it should look!!! We can never model enough!!!

Go over their engineering challenge again! Another lesson ----engineers always PLAN before they begin!!!

The LEGO structures can be placed on the counter for all to view later, but as the lesson is about working cooperatively, you should have all students come back to the group. Give the children a chance to tell how they each worked cooperatively. You could begin with the phrase..."I was a cooperative partner because I _____________."

On another day, they can share their wonderful structures!!!





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