13 Activities to Teach Teamwork Skills

Successful Group Work: 13 Activities to Teach Teamwork Skills
By Patrice Palmer
(Alphabet Publishing, 2017 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Stacey Knighton

If you’d like some help with collaborative group work and team building, this manual may be just what you need! In Successful Group Work you will find 13 activities that will help teach your students how to work together as a team.

This manual is great for providing structure within your groups of students in order to have your classroom run more smoothly. When these strategies are implemented correctly, your classroom will become a more student centered environment.

Many of Palmer’s activities can be adapted to meet the needs of students in the elementary or secondary grades. With the beginning of the school year underway, we want to create a climate of collaboration in our classroom.

An easy-to-use resource

Each activity is well laid out, with the time, materials, specific team building skill, and procedures for how to run the activity. The book allows you to utilize activities without needing many materials. The instructions are very easy to follow, and you can implement these with very little prep time.

All these elements make for ready-made activities that are easy to utilize within your classroom. Some could be done before group work, used to help set up groups working on projects, or utilized during or after group work.

Team building and skills

The manual is divided in four main sections: Getting to Know Each Other Activities, Team Building Activities, Teamwork Skills and Strategies, and Reflection and Evaluation.

The Getting to Know Each Other section contains activities that you can implement in the beginning of the school year or when you change seating arrangements within your classroom. This activities can be easily modified and adapted to meet the needs of your students. This assists in promoting a culture of group work within your classroom.

The Team Building Activities can be implemented within an instructional class period or during an advisory period. I have used Activity 6: The Tower Building Activity with my students. I especially enjoyed that everyone within the team needed to play a part in this activity. This reinforced the idea that sometimes working together can accomplish a task better than working individually.

The Teamwork Skills and Strategies section of the book deals with conflict and communication. These are definitely keys to any successful team. They are particularly important to middle and high school groups who are learning how to interact cooperatively with others. Assigning team roles within the team will assist your classroom management. The students take ownership for a team role and assist in managing themselves and their classmates.

The Reflection and Evaluation section provides rubrics and worksheets that students can complete after they have worked on a group task. This is a great way to have them reflect about their teammates and about their own work.

Some Reservations

Having noted all of this, I am a little disappointed in the lack of depth in the activities. I am also disappointed in the fact that there are so few activities. I feel that there are many more ways to help students interact positively in groups or teams that are not mentioned in this book.

While a decent resource for a beginning teacher or someone just beginning to do collaborative team work, I think the majority of teachers will find that there are other, more indepth resources better suited to their needs.

Stacey Knighton has been a 7th grade math educator for the past six years. She has also held the position of team leader of a middle school academic team for three years. She has taught in a variety of  settings, both rural and urban. She has experience teaching students in co-taught settings and students who are English Language Learners. This year her classroom focus is on changing her students’ mindsets about how they learn.

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