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Is your team PoPuLaR?

February 12, 2011

We’ve been doing a lot of work with our students on building team work skills, and in particular we’ve been trying to get them to think deeply and specifically about what makes a great team and team worker.

To do this we’ve said great teams are PoPuLaR:


Two of the many team-building activities we have done with our students are; Giants, Wizards & Dwarfs and the classic paper tower challenge.

Giants, Wizards & Dwarfs:
Divide the class in two and line them up facing each other. Tell them that as a team they must choose to be either giants, wizards or dwarfs. Giants raise their hands in the air and roar. Wizards cast a spell by pointing at the other team. Dwarfs bend down and make any silly noise you want them to! Giants beat dwarfs. Wizards beat giants. Dwarfs beat wizards. Basically it’s an animated team version of ‘rock, paper, scissors’. Watch the video for details!

The point of course is that a large group of students quickly have to come to an agreement about what character to choose. The role of a good leader soon becomes obvious, which can lead to a discussion about what makes a good leader and how best to reach a decision.

Paper Tower Challenge:
This is a well known team building game, in which groups of students have to build a tower out of a range of materials. The winning group is the one who builds the tallest tower, that is also strong enough to support an egg.

Before they start building, the groups must plan their tower, and choose what materials they need from a list: Buy & Build.

Once again the key hear is the reflection afterwards. I think this works best if you choose one or two simple prompt questions, for example:

WWW: What Went Well?
EBI: Even Better If?
What would you do differently next time?
What helped you succeed?
What stopped you succeeding?

It’s important that students answer these questions by referring to their team work, not the task itself. So in the case of the Tower Challenge, in answer to the question ‘What went well?’, hopefully students will say something like, “We had a good leader who made sure everyone had a specific role”, rather than, “Our tower was the tallest because we used lots of sellotape”.

One way to get all students involved in this is to get them to draw a circle, divide it into four, and assign one of the above questions to each quadrant. Each student gets a different coloured pen, and they must write a response to each question. The different coloured pen helps you track what each student has written. Have a look below:

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