October, 2014

To live a successful life in school and in the future, students need to know how to work effectively with others.  By providing social opportunities, you can also nurture cognitive skills and standards.  Elementary age students are in the age of constructivism – they like to create things, feel a sense of accomplishment, and they are motivated by working with their peers.  This month you will find a rationale for providing children with group activities, some tips on organizing groups, and lots of activities for children to do in small groups or with a partner.

The free song download this month is “Mother Goony Bird.”  It’s a silly song that is a great brain break to help kids wiggle and smile.  The Spanish version is by Boca Beth.

Click below to download:
Mother Goony Bird from the CD Dr. Jean & Friends
The Spanish version from the CD Fusion Fiesta Fun

The Partnership for the 21st Century Skills recognized the gap between the knowledge and skills students learn in school and what is needed to succeed in the work place.  Their 4Cs include:

Critical thinking & problem solving – Students need to work together and build skills they will use in the real world.

Communication– Being able to express one’s thoughts and ideas and to accept opinions of others can be developed with group projects.

Collaboration – By working in teams students learn to cooperate and apply individual efforts to the good of the group.

Creativity & innovation – Group work is generally more open-ended and encourages students to “think outside the box.”

The Association of American Colleges and Universities recently posted “Top Ten Things Employers Look for in New College Graduates.”  Number one was THE ABILITY TO WORK WELL IN TEAMS.  Other skills cited were:

          The ability to write and speak well.
          The ability to apply knowledge and skills in new settings.
          The ability to be creative and innovative in solving problems.

In addition to fostering social skills and cooperation, group work can provide students with opportunities to develop:

          Self-regulation and the executive function
          Organizational skills
          Time management
          Technology skills
          Consideration of classmates
          A sense of accomplishment
          Classroom community
          Integrate math and language skills in a practical way

Group work can also add variety and balance to the academic rigors of the typical school day.  And, remember, working in a group is like everything else.  The more the students do it, the better they will become at working with friends toward a common goal.  Practice, practice, practice!

So, what’s it gonna take?   TEAMWORK!  And that
teamwork needs to start with young children.


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