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Taking Time For Teambuilding

With Hurricane Florence creeping our way last week, everything was up in the air. Were we going to be out of school? Would the power go out? How bad was the wind going to be? Where was the hurricane actually going to go?


I think the teachers in the building were more concerned than the students were.


I was on the weather app every 5 minutes. 


But, after a long week of guessing games, even the kids were starting to seem antsy. It was getting harder to focus (myself included), so I thought...what a great time to focus on positive interactions with each other!


I set aside the last 10-15 minutes of class to have some fun with a team building exercise, called Cup-Up.  I first learned about this game from Dale Duncan’s materials on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can check out his lessons here.


I divided the class into groups of roughly 8 people. Each group got one cup, and their goal was to volley the cup in the air at least 21 times without it touching the ground. Students couldn't hit the cup 2 consecutive times. If they did, their group had to start over again at 1. Everyone was also required to count out loud. When each group got to 21, their reward was posing for a picture with Janet, our chorus mascot (yes, she’s a poop emoji float that I won in a raffle last year).

After reaching 21, I challenged them to see how many times past that they could keep it going.


This activity helps break the ice between students who don’t know each other very well yet, because in order for each group to be successful, they have to communicate with each other. I sometimes use Dale Duncan’s discussion questions with this activity to talk about teamwork with my groups.


But on this particular, hurricane-pending day, I just wanted them to enjoy some time together.

The Name Game

Another activity worth making time for at the beginning of the year is The Name Game. Each student introduces themselves, and then shares something they like. Typically, I ask them to tell us their favorite food. In this video of my 8th grade class, they decided to tell each other their favorite colors.


You gotta mix things up sometimes.

You can go through everyone in one period, or you can just do a row/ section at a time. For my 8th graders, I introduced a row every few days. Once everyone has gone in the row or section, we go back and review names by speaking them in rhythm and snapping in between.


My 8th graders already know one another pretty well. For 6 and 7th grade, I let students volunteer to come up to the front of the room to see if they can name everyone! This game is my secret to learning 200+ student names every year. Plus, we get to learn a little something about each other….

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