Back to school – games for collaboration and teamwork

Of course we want to encourage students to collaborate and work in teams – but how does this actually happen?

Here’s one idea to kickstart that idea and keep it going all year long – games. But not just any game! Games specifically designed to encourage teamwork and collaboration. Replace simple “icebreakers” with games that set the standard for positive interaction. As time goes on, introduce other games that pave the way for even deeper group work. Encouraging these kinds of habits needs to start day one, it’s not something to do after students “learn the basics.”

Check out this article – “Why Play Games When There’s Work to Do? by Adam Fletcher of The Freechild Project.

Games can be a catalyst for deeper goals. They can bring both cohesion and energy to any group, and are a welcome addition to a teacher’s “bag of tricks”. Playing games with students and youth groups encourages teamwork, models constructive, collaborative behavior, and develops a shared sense of mission.

Two categories of games are especially helpful in setting a tone of collaboration and teamwork for students.

Cooperative games emphasize participation, challenge, and fun, rather than sorting out winners and losers. These kinds of games teach teamwork, empathy, and trust.

Initiative games have players attack a problem and solve it. They teach leadership, problem solving, and collaboration.

I encourage you to read “Why Play Games…” It’s full of practical suggestions and fun game ideas, but is much more than just a list of games. It includes time-tested information about how to choose them, how to introduce them, how to create reflective activities that further magnify the impact of the game itself, and tons of additional resources.

Teachers who lead student tech clubs know that the success of the group depends on much more than tech skills. Teamwork and a sense of mission result in the “we” being more than the “me” and can take a student tech team to the next level.

This isn’t just for student clubs either. If you want students to unlearn the competitive habits that have been drilled into them and work cooperatively, these games will work in classroom situations too. Collaboration and communication may be “21st century skills” but having students play them out in game situations is a timeless idea.

Give this short article a read and I guarantee you will learn one new thing today! “Why Play Games…” By Adam Fletcher

Selected additional resources (there’s a lot more if you click on the article link):

  • Free guide, So, You Wanna Be A Playa? The Freechild Project Guide to Cooperative Games for Social Change by A. Fletcher with K. Kunst. “This insightful new guide will help community workers, teachers, activists, and all kinds of people find fun, engaging, and powerful activities that promote teamwork, communication, and social justice.Click here for a free download.


3 Replies to “Back to school – games for collaboration and teamwork”

  1. I totally agree with getting started right away with exciting and interesting work. I took a chance last year and jumped right into hands-on geometry and some science lessons that required teamwork with my second graders. I realized this was a great way for the children to get to know one another, to practice collaborative skills they would need for the year, and for them to start off the school year having great learning FUN!!!

  2. A great resource, I believe we should be playing these games all year. They help maintain and grow team appreciation and collaborative skills. Just as important it keeps the class mood positive and allows creative thinking.

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