To prepare the 5th grade for project-based learning, I have been facilitating team building activities. This activity is called bull ring. A metal ring has 20 pieces of string tied around it. The students all take one string and hold the last three inches of it, suspending the metal ring in the air. A tennis ball is placed in the center, and the students must keep it suspended while moving in different ways.

The challenges got increasingly harder. First we lowered and raised the ball, next rotated in a circle, then we traveled with it across the room. Since this group succeeded in all three levels, we decided to take on an ultimate challenge: walking around the entire school.

After talking about what a team was, many students stepped up with ideas as leaders. One leader never really emerged and we spent a lot of time talking about what to do. Since hallway rules include being quiet, I assigned two random students to be the only ones that could talk in the hallway.

The hallway was a test of stamina. A couple students felt like they weren’t doing anything to help and became frustrated. One student solved this problem by himself and decided to be the “hallway traffic warn-er,” running ahead to tell people to wait in a doorway. During the debrief, the class decided that they could have been more successful with the hallway challenge if they didn’t blame others for lowering the rope. Even though we made it, success also means having fun. I think that project-based learning will challenge this group to compromise their ideas and increase their awareness of group dynamics.

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