Sunday, January 15, 2017

Teamwork makes the dream work...

Every Saturday at CrossFit on the River, we have a Team Workout of the Day (WOD). As 50+ people walk into the gym, we anxiously look at the whiteboard to see what movements the WOD will require us to do, then folks scan the room to see who lifts similar weight as they do (so we can share a barbell), or who moves at a similar pace (so no one is resting or working more than the other). Most team workouts, we're asked to find a partner mostly because there are so many of us and so few pieces of equipment to go around. Yesterday's WOD, though, required us to have a partner to complete the movements (not just share equipment and space). The outcome? Teammates that worked equally as hard for the entirety of the WOD and supporting each other to genuinely "keep pushing through the rough spots" because if they didn't, then neither did you!!!

I can't help but think of the conversation I have with many of the teachers and instructional leaders I support. Why would you have students work in groups to complete project work, if the project doesn't necessitate more than one person to complete the work? So please.... look at your current and upcoming project design(s). Are you anticipating students working in teams to complete the project work? If "yes"... are they only in groups for the sake of sharing equipment (computers, books, folders, etc.) and space (physical floor space, to make life easier on you for individual check-ins with students throughout the project work)? Or, will they actually be in groups because they couldn't possibly complete the research and "ask" of the project without a teammate?

Bottom line, if you're going to ask students to work in teams, then be sure to design a project which requires thought partnership from teammates (not just splitting up research for the sake of completing work faster). If you'd like some help with this part of project design, please.... let me know!

Once you've figured out where and how collaboration will support student learning in your project design, it's important that you scaffold collaborative skills in your classroom and school-wide. Here are a few best practices, tips, and resources that you might find useful:
What have you tried? How often do you build in opportunities to support the development of collaboration skills? Feel free to comment on the blog to continue the conversation!

Peace, love, and TeamWODs,

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