October 2014
Tips for Teams

Intentional Teaching - What is your purpose and plan for the group activity? State it clearly to your students so they understand the goal.

Boundaries - Think about what rules and limits you need to set. Tell them what your expectations are before they begin. You could also ask the students to suggest appropriate behavior. Cruise the room while the children work to offer support or intervene if there is a problem

Materials - What supplies will the groups need? What do you need to provide and what should they be responsible for?

Time - How long should the group project take? With the short attention span of younger students it needs to fit their interests. Older students could have projects that take longer to complete.

Space - What seating arrangement will be most conducive? Children can put their desks in a pod (4 together), sit at a table, work on the floor, etc. They could also work in the hall, go to the library, go outside, or use other creative spaces.

Size – Partner projects suggest two students, but four seems to be the most appropriate number for group work. (Groups of 2 or four are more conducive for social interaction than odd numbers.)

If you have an odd number of students allow the last child to choose a group they’d like to work with.

Roles - It might be helpful to assign roles, such as the supervisor (leader), secretary (takes notes), reporter (shares information), and cheerleader (team member who encourages).
Hint! To enable different students to have leadership roles, you could have a “lucky draw” for these positions. Write “supervisor,” “secretary,” “reporter,” and “cheerleader” on jumbo craft sticks. Place in a can, shake, and then let team members chose a random role.

Grading - How do you grade group work?

You could assign a grade to the whole group based on your observation or a checklist.

Let the students in the group grade each other.

Have students present their work to the class and then encourage classmates to critique their work.

With younger children, give them all a smile for working well together.

Grouping Strategies - There are several different ways to create groups.

Children could number off from 1-6 (divide the number of students in your class by four to come up with the number) and then ask all the ones to form a group, the twos, etc.



Take old greeting cards and cut them into four puzzle pieces. Children select a puzzle piece and then try to match it up to form their group.

Pass out four pictures of objects that rhyme, start with the same sound, go together, etc. Children form their groups based on the categories. (As the teacher passes these out, he can consider different skill levels and personalities, but the children will still think it is random.)




Pick Sticks – Put like stickers, letters, shapes, colors, etc on jumbo craft sticks. You will need four of each one. Pass out the sticks and then call out sticker, number, shape, or color and children form groups accordingly.




Play “mingle” where children walk around the room. When the teacher calls out a number the children form groups of that size. After playing several rounds of the game say “four” and that becomes the work group.

Hum a Tune – Whisper a simple tune (Twinkle Little Star, Row Your Boat, The Ants Go Marching, Old MacDonald) in each child’s ear. The children walk around the room humming as they try to find others humming the same tune.

Snap – Whisper a number from 1-6 in each child’s ear. As they walk around the room snapping that number of times they will discover their group.

Team for a week - Another option might be to assign a group of students based on skills or other attributes to work as a “team” for a week. They could rotate through centers and do other activities all week long.

Social Groups – Each child writes down the name of 2 people they would like to work with, 2 they’d like to know better, and 2 they do not want to work with. How can you adjust the groups to make all children feel accepted and improve class relationships?

Upper Grade Buddies - Do collaborative learning activities with different age groups. Kindergarteners could be paired with 4th graders or classes on the same grade level could be partnered. High Five Have teams begin group work by giving each other a high five.

They could also clasp hands in the middle and say, “Go team!” Good Job, Good Buddy! After completing a group activity students shake hands or pat each other on the back.

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