Reflection: Shared Expectations Better Teams: Just Add Six Cups! - Section 3: Instructional Input/Student Activities


Three “Habits of Mind” were introduced prior to beginning the activity: Persistence, Flexible Thinking, and Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision. From the beginning, students responded to the challenge with eagerness and great focus. The fastest group time was little more than 19 seconds and the longest time was more than 180 seconds (almost ten times greater). So there certainly was a feeling of frustration for the slower teams due to the fact that they were “out of the running” for first place. Regardless of the outcome, student teams were not going to quit and were applauded by their peers as they persevered.

Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork! There was an evident vibe of camaraderie and encouragement as teams performed in the final round of competition.  In video 1 and video 2 it can be observed how students are working together and persisting through the challenge even when the cups fall. Note the encouraging talk (even from other team members) and applause after each team completes (regardless of elapsed time). Persistence, flexible thinking, and effective thinking and communication were the emphasized Habits of Mind.

Different teams approached their strategies in unique ways. Some teams tried to capture three cups at a time (to little use) and others used their string to slide cups in the process of stacking them.

As can be seen in both group videos, students are intently focused on achieving their goal and despite several failed attempts they are undaunted in their effort. After several attempts, trying different approaches, they reached their goal and are clearly enthusiastic! When the activity was over, one student asked me. "Are we going to do something like this again?" I replied that having fun is a fabric of our class and supports the challenging learning we do daily and he should look forward to much more of it!

At the end of the day, students had fun and actually started to talk more with their teams. This activity preceded the first lab activity of the year and I noticed a lot of discussion and reliance on their teammates. Its all about creating an environment rich in support, and encouragement that set up rigorous tasks down the road.

  Shared Expectations: Never give up, never surrender!!!
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Better Teams: Just Add Six Cups!

Unit 1: 1) Intro to Science ("Investigations by Design")
Lesson 4 of 10

Objective: Students will be challenged to hone their communication and teamwork skills in a time-based competition against other teams. Teams with fastest time for completion of task wins!

Big Idea: Successful teams employ a variety of traits and strategies, chief among them are effective communication, trial-and-error learning, and perseverance.

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Science, Scientific Method (Science Skills), habits of mind, team building, Science Practices
  55 minutes
colorful plastic cups
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