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Lesson Plan 2: Developing Successful Teamwork Skills


Science, Social Studies  


5, 6  

Title – Lesson Plan 2: Developing Successful Teamwork Skills – The Spaghetti Incident
By – Alex Johnson-Jimenez
Subject – Science, Social Studies
Grade Level – 5th – 6th grade

NOTE: This is the second lesson plan to the Colonization of Mars Thematic Unit.
This unit can also be found here.
Here’s the Project Outline Handout.
Here’s the Mars Research Handout.

Students will identify and apply appropriate teamwork strategies to ensure successful
Completion of the Colonization of Mars project. Students will discuss what good teamwork means and practice good teamwork skills throughout the unit.

Materials Needed:
12 pieces of dry spaghetti noodles for each group (approximately 60 pieces plus a few extras)
6 pieces of gumdrops for each group (approximately 30 pieces plus a few extra for treats)
Bag of miniature marshmallows
Copy paper
5 shoeboxes
5 large screws
5 crayons
5 marbles
5 square erasers

Estimated Time: 60 Minutes

Prior to the class period starting prepare each box in the following manner:
1.Place the large screw on the bottom of the shoebox (on the inside) and place a small piece of tape over it to keep it in place.

2.Place 1 crayon, 1 marble, and 1 eraser inside each box.

3.Tape the boxes shut so that students can’t easily open the boxes.
Once all the students are at their desks, walk to each desk shaking the box in a non-obvious way so that they can hear the items clanging around inside. Place a box in the center of each group of students and instruct them not to touch the box. After each group has a box, instruct the students that they must try and identify the items inside the box without opening the box. Group members will take turns shaking the box and will write down their guesses and explain what led them to believe as they do. Once all members have made their guesses, the group must decide as a whole what the four objects are and why. Total time: 5 minutes.

1.Walk about the room observing how the students are coming along on the assignment.

2.After the timer goes off, have the person responsible for materials place the boxes at the front of the room.

3.Ask each group what their guesses were and write them on the board. So, others hear their reasons, have the groups also explain how they came to their conclusions. Once all the groups have guessed, ask the students what they think the purpose of this exercise was about. Lead the students towards a discussion on how each of them have unique perspectives due to their skills, talents, experiences, and knowledge. Explain how a group can benefit from having people that are very different then themselves and that often times, another person will have an answer to question that you can’t answer simply because of their own individuality. A team will only succeed when all members of the group contribute and fulfill their responsibilities. And so on. Total time: 5 min.

4.Open the box and show the items to the class. Identify the group that was closest to correctly identifying the items.

5.Explain “for the first part of this period we will work on teamwork skills. We are going to have a contest.” At this time, place the noodles and the gumdrops in the center of each group. “Here are the rules: each group is going to build a tower as a high as they can, each member of the group has to participate or the group will be disqualified, each group will build their tower out of dry spaghetti noodles and gumdrops, and most importantly, you cannot talk to one another. You will not get any new gumdrops or noodles, but you may use as many miniature marshmallows as you need. If you talk, I will remove one gumdrop from the group. If you talk three times, the group will be disqualified.” Have students at random explain the rules of the contest back to you and the class. “You have 10 minutes to build your tower and remember NO TALKING. You may begin.”
Total time: 12 min.

6.When the timer sounds tell the students to stop what they are doing. Have each group use a meter stick to measure the height of the tower and record the reading on the board. Once a winner has been identified, have the class clap and give them the extra gumdrops.

7.Have the winning team explain how they went about constructing their tower. Nudge them to discuss non-verbal communication and assignment of members to specific tasks.

8.Clean up the mess.

9.Explain to the class that the importance of teamwork and fulfilling one’s responsibilities.

10.State that from this moment on that they will be on their own in solving the problems identified with the colonization of Mars, as well as some of the teacher’s identified challenges.

11.Explain that the teacher will be teaching lessons on issues that they may need to address in the unit, but that they will be responsible for compiling and assessing the merits of the information as they find the answers themselves.

12.Handout the NASA Research Topics found in Appendix B: NASA Research Topics.

13.Read through the handout with the class and explain what it all means. Answer their questions, there will be quite a few. Total time: 15 min.

14.Inform them that they will have until Tuesday of the following week to finish their research. This is Day 7 in the teacher’s planning guide.

15.Now, in a very excited tone, explain what the final goals of the project are going to be. That is, explain the final project(s) that will mark the end of the unit. Some possible culminating projects include:
A. Designing a Web Page that has each group’s proposal for successful colonization of Mars.
B. Students produce a skit with props, music, and movement about the preparations needed to leave for Mars, the actual journey, and the first days on the planet.
C. Students can write letters to the President of the United States via e-mail or snail mail in which their individual projects are attached and have the letters focus on the support needed for continued exploration of the solar system.
D. Students can write letters to NASA with their ideas and support of the organizations expeditions.
E. Students can create a PowerPoint presentation that will be viewed by other classes.
F. Students can design models of what a colony on Mars would look like if they were in charge of its design.
The list above does not reflect all the possibilities for culminating projects, but is rather a simple example of what some of the possibilities are.
This author prefers to be aggressive in this unit and wishes to challenge the students to the fullest. Therefore, it is the intention of this author to have each group engage in a special project of their own and so, the lessons that follow are designed with this in mind. Students are told the following about what will be expected of them:
“As we move through this study, you are going to be working very hard to solve some of these problems (referring to the list of challenges). Each group will be doing something different as a final project. However, keep in mind that even though each group is doing a separate project, the information that will be used in each project comes from everyone in the class. That means that each of you will either get or won’t get credit for the projects that other groups do, depending on your contribution to the class. Remember that this is a group effort. So, I will inform you on Wednesday of what project each group will be doing. As of right now one group will design a Web Page that will contain as much information about this unit as possible. Another group will design a play with music, artwork, and dialogue to be presented to parents and friends. Another group will develop a letter and packet of information to be sent to the President of the United States so that he/ she can see what we have been working on and show our support for continued space exploration. Another group will also design a letter and packet of information to be sent to NASA as a demonstration of our support for space exploration and to pass along our ideas on how to colonize Mars. Who knows, maybe some of your ideas or designs will be used in the future, just remember that Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, and Valentina Tereshkove were all in the 6th grade at one time. Lastly, one group will design a model of a colony that will exist on Mars in the future. I know that you all have questions, but I want you to save your questions until I have assigned the projects.” Total time: 5 min.

16.Encourage students to work outside of class with or without their peers or with their parents or guardians. Stress that they need to take their time and do a good job; not only for themselves but because others in the class will be depending on them as well. Explain that you will try and give them time each day to work on the project and so they do not need to get it done in one day.

17.As the hour comes to a close inform the students that the journal topic question for that evening is, “Make a list of the 10 most important things that you believe you would need to survive on Mars.” and to add at least three more vocabulary words to their private word list.

18.Give the students the remainder of the class period to get started on organizing, asking questions, and start their preliminary research.

Walk throughout the classroom observing and answering questions. Assess the accuracy of their answers, ability to think critically, independent work, and contribution to the group.

Complete the next page in their journals, answer the topic question, and add three more vocabulary words to their private word list and defining them in their own words.
Here’s the Project Outline Handout.
Here’s the Mars Research Handout.

E-Mail Alex!

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