This month, Middle and Upper School Head Brian Oliver led the “Sandwich Challenge” in Ms. Prahlad’s Composition classes for 6th and 7th grade.
He writes: The objective of the activity was to get students to experience, appreciate, and reflect upon the value of the different roles on any team. Through an interactive and playful activity we designed and activity that would allow them to “fail forward.” The rules for each group pushed them towards failure — one had to agree universally before they could write anything down; one had to work independently and guess what his/her peers were predicting; and the third had fixed roles assigned randomly and therefore with no focus on the strengths of the individuals comprising the team.
Once the procedure was completed and the sandwiches were crafted by “guest stars,” the students gathered as a whole and each student shared his/her experience: the restrictions of their team, how it impacted their productivity and most importantly how it made them feel.
We then introduced and examined Belbin’s team roles which explain the different roles and focus on each roles’ strength and weakness. The “guest stars” were asked to share their self-evaluation with the group and the students were then asked to reflect on the roles and to order them from most authentic fit to least authentic fit. These self-evaluations will then be used as they shape their team and launch their project.
This was a great example of our Plan-Do-Reflect learning model and it was an amazing experience to be a part of – to watch the kids work so hard to play by the rules, even as their project careened towards failure, to observe them trying to find creative solutions to work around the rules that restricted them, to laugh hysterically when the guest stars followed their procedures literally and to reflect so thoughtfully when the project was completed. I am confident they walked away energized by the activity and emboldened that the knowledge they gained will help them work more collaboratively on their anti-bullying PSA.
The great part about the new Middle School classroom design (desks on wheels, whiteboard walls, and standing desks) is that I could group, regroup, and re-order the students throughout the exercise. The flexibility allowed us to use grouping and physical positioning as a tool to aid instruction. One of the groups was forced to be in an outward facing circle, one in a collaborative cluster and the third was a blend of the two.This arrangement reinforced the lesson and students were quickly able to return to the half-moon for the group observation and reflection.The absence of transition issues with this new furniture is incredibly valuable.