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Sixth graders recently spent about five hours on the middle school’s back field, participating in group activities that felt like games but taught teamwork, problem solving and independence. The warm weather necessitated frequent water breaks in-between rounds of Shepherd's Staff, Trolleys, Mass Pass, Key Punch, Sharks and Minnows, Mastermind, and Pipeline.
In some activities, children were blindfolded. In others, they could not speak and had to depend on eye contact and body language to communicate.
The sixth grade is divided into four academic teams—Zeal, Intrepid, Perspective, and Inquiry. For the team-building activities each team was divided into groups of ten.
“The educators began with simple games and moved to more challenging ones," said Assistant Principal Monica Bermiss. "Each activity was followed with a discussion on what worked and what didn’t, allowing the students to build on what they learned in the next objective.”
“Students learned what role they play in groups, and what their character strengths are—such as loyalty, honesty, humor, and perseverance,” said Jennifer Makover, middle school guidance counselor.
The team-building day ended in the classroom with a discussion of the most important things to remember when working together to solve a problem.
“Giving good directions,” said one student.
“Listening,” said another.
“I saw observers become leaders and problem solvers today.” said teacher Kathy O’Neil. “I saw students make new friends.”