Although high school students socialize with friends and value the opinion of peers, they benefit from structured activities that refine team skills such as communication, problem-solving, leadership and negotiation. Team members often do not know one another very well before coming together, so exercises help each member learn about and appreciate teammates' unique skills. Team-building exercises should have a set beginning and end with an outcome the group accomplishes by working together.
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To facilitate communication and increase team members' understand of each other's values, Ohio State University suggests an activity called space trip. This team-building exercise begins with the teacher or coach setting a scenario: A thinning ozone layer means Earth can no longer can sustain life, and a small group of individuals must be sent to another planet to continue the human species.
Divide the team into groups of five to seven. Give each group a list describing 30 people by age, sex, skills, profession and some personal information. The group, working together as a team, must select 10 people from the list to go to another planet. Allow 30 minutes to one hour for each team to create its list and write its selection criteria. Have each group choose a leader to present recommendations to the rest of the class.
A gardening team-building project offers the flexibility of various options: construct a raised bed, for example, plant a landscape area or choose team activities that cover an entire semester. Preparations include finding space, sources for plants and seeds, materials and tools. Working with a local master gardener or agricultural agent may provide these resources.
Divide the class or team into groups of five to seven. Each group will build an 8-foot -square garden using wood or cinderblock sides and soil. Have the team select a garden theme, such as a pizza or salsa garden. The team works together to select plants and place them in the soil. Teams must divide responsibility for weeding, watering and harvesting. The team also agrees on how to distribute the product.
Prepare a Meal
Divide a high school class into groups of 10. Each group selects the cuisine of a foreign country and creates a representative meal plan with at least five items. After selecting a country, team members research the typical menu for a family. By whatever method the group chooses – voting, drawing straws, last name with highest letter of the alphabet — one person becomes responsible for getting the meal prepared.
The responsible person selects helpers or volunteers in groups of two or three to prepare each item. Working together, the team purchases, prepares and cooks the meal. Additionally, one or more team members create a presentation about the country and the foods selected. If resources present a problem in preparing the food on campus, the team can research and discuss recipes and food preparation rather than cooking and serving the food.