After this past year of semi-isolation, many of our students are finding that in-person learning and working with classmates feels new and a little intimidating. At the Middle School, teachers have designed lessons to help students ease back into building relationships with peers and redeveloping interpersonal skills.
In teacher Dan Hickey’s fifth-grade class, students learned about the dangers of traumatic brain injury. They broke into small groups to design their own custom gear for protecting delicate eggs (representing brains) from concussion. Team members had to quickly work together to brainstorm solutions and collect building materials. Ultimately, they carefully shielded their eggs in creatively conceived structures that included combinations of towels, bubble wrap, parachutes, balloons and even peanut butter.
Each team designated a single member to drop their construction from a second story window, while the rest waited anxiously below to see if their egg survived. The result? No eggs were harmed!
Teacher Rachael Herman’s fifth-graders also participated in the egg experiment, and followed it up the next day with another team building exercise – a Cup Challenge. Each team of three or four students tried to build a pyramid from plastic cups without ever physically touching their cups.
“Students teamed up with peers they hadn’t worked with before,” said Herman. “Each team member was vital and necessary to the success of the group. The skills they practiced – listening, sharing, valuing each other’s contributions, collaborating – are all things they will need going forward. Activities like this in the beginning of the year give me a chance to evaluate each student’s skills so we can provide extra help where needed.”