One thing I think has really helped my class have the perfect little community where students have great conversations, work together, everyone gets along, all students participate without fear of feeling like they're not smart, are my Wednesday Missions.
Every Wednesday I take time out of my day to do some kind of team building activity. Some activities take an hour while some might be 30 minutes. My students seriously look forward to these. If for some reason we don't get to one, they are so unhappy!
We have done all sorts of missions such as Marshmallow Challenge, Candy Corn Tower, School Supply Shuffle, Gum Drop Challenge, STEM-Quake Safe and a story writing challenge. Some were very hard, while some seemed too easy. But the outcome has always been the same-focus on collaboration, creativity, discovering and sharing.
One of the hardest, yet fun challenges I did was a Shelter Challenge.
We have been reading Hatchet, this was the perfect challenge. I found the idea for this challenge HERE.
We first had a discussion about how Brian built his shelter. We also watched a video of how to build a shelter.
Students in their table teams got an iTouch for photographs, a stack of newspaper and 1 roll of tape. They had a set amount of time to discuss and plan how they were going to build their shelter.
Their mission was to build a free standing shelter out of newspaper and tape where their whole team had to fit inside. (I ended up changing it to have only 1 person fit inside).
It's safe to say, they had a lot of fun!
In the end, only one team actually succeeded. After we cleaned up, they had one more task as a team to complete.
I was so proud of my students for the way they worked together on this challenge. Their Google Slide reflections show me how much they learned about the book, teamwork, and showed their creativity.
If you're looking for a way to encourage your students to work together and communicate more, I highly recommend taking time out of your week to bring in some team building activities. You can follow my Pinterest board for other team building activities I have found.