Collaboration and Teamwork

Students demonstrate the ability and willingness to pursue common goals as part of a team, constructively participate in cooperative learning, and communicate effectively in cross-cultural and multi-lingual settings (i.e., with people who have diverse styles, views, and backgrounds).

Key Beliefs:

I will be a better student if I act on the following beliefs:

  • Working productively with others, as being part of a team or group, will allow me to accomplish more than I could alone.
  • I should work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams.
  • I have to exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal.
  • I need to assume shared responsibility for collaborative work and value the individual contributions made by each team member.
  • It is important to demonstrate the ability and willingness to pursue common goals as part of a team, constructively participate in cooperative learning, and communicate effectively with people who have diverse styles, views, and backgrounds. 
  • Assign specific roles and responsibilities during group work. 
  • Illustrate techniques for compromise. 
  • Focus on (and evaluate) the process of group projects in addition to the final products. 
  • Examine careers and look at the role collaboration and team skills would play. 
  • Practice group or class activities that require working together.
  • Team up with another class in a target language country to identify and compare endangered species in both countries and produce a multimedia informational presentation.
  • After studying an environmental community issue (landfills, water quality, maintaining open space, recycling), compose email messages to various local, state, and national officials, stating their opinion and offering alternatives to current methods of dealing with the issue. 
  • Working in groups, students could survey favorite forms of recreation among local teens.
  • Research the local history of recreational facilities for teens and the potential sources of political and economic support. Graph and analyze the information, and then have each group create a business plan for developing a local recreation center/club for teens. 
  • Collaborate with senior citizens in a digital storytelling workshop. Assign different groups of students to different senior citizens. Then have each group bring to life a story from their senior’s history as they collaborate on writing and creating a video, including recording the narration and selecting images and music. 
  • “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
  • “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford
  • “I never did anything alone. Whatever was accomplished in this country was accomplished collectively.” – Golda Meir
  • “The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other.” – Thomas Stallkamp
  • “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Satoro
  • “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson
  • “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford
  • “The lightning spark of thought generated in the solitary mind awakens its likeness in another mind.” – Thomas Carlyle
  • “Your corn is ripe today; mine will be so tomorrow. ‘Tis profitable for us both, that I should labor with you today, and that you should aid me tomorrow.” – David Hume
  • “Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi
  • “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock
  • “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie
  • “If two men on the same job agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all the time, both are useless.” Darryl F. Zanuck
  • “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” – George Bernard Shaw


Learning Objective: To help students see the benefit of working together

Materials: Paper; newspaper sheets; rubber bands; pieces of string cut into 12-inch lengths; balloons (per team)


  • Have everyone in the group find a partner. Each of the following five tasks must be accomplished while holding one of their partner’s hands.
    • Task one: Make a paper airplane with a sheet of paper
    • Task two: Tie a bow with the piece of string 
    • Task three: Roll up a newspaper and put a rubber band around it
    • Task four: Inflate a balloon and tie the end
    • Task five: Both of you do a somersault at the same time, remembering that you can’t let go of your partner’s hand.

Process and Reflection:

So What?

  • How easy was it to do the tasks that you were given?
  • What problems did you experience when completing the task?
  • Would the tasks have been easier to complete if you were doing them without your partner’s help? Why or why not?

Now What?

  • What can this activity teach us about working together?
  • How hard is it to do some things as a group rather than by yourself?
  • When working as a group, how can you avoid having problems?

Link Up

Learning Objective: To generate a student’s connection to the class or school


  • One student stands and shares something with the class.
  • When someone in the group has something in common with what was said, he or she gets up to link arms with the student speaking. Only one student at a time. 
  • The two linked students declare the thing that they had in common and then begin talking about themselves until someone else comes up with something in common with them. 
  • The activity continues until all group members are ‘linked up.’

Process and Reflection:

So What?

  • What did you learn about your fellow students?
  • What does this activity have to say about respect?
  • Who should we respect in our class?

Now What?

  • What makes it so easy to focus on differences amongst students rather than what it is that we have in common?
  • When you have to do something in collaboration with someone else here at school, do you want to have the opportunity to choose whom you work with, or are you willing to accept an assigned partner or group? Give reasons for your choice.
  • Why don’t we at times value each other even though we have the same worth?

Popsicle Stick Teamwork

Learning Objective: To engage students in learning the benefits of working as a team and accepting the ideas of others

Materials: Popsicle sticks; masking tape; markers


  • Have students take a Popsicle stick and write with a marker a key challenge in making character education a part of their class. 
  • Then have students throw their Popsicle stick as far as they can. Typically, it doesn’t go very far. 
  • Have students pair up, read what they wrote on the stick, tape the sticks together, and throw. Again, it doesn’t go far. 
  • Create groups of four students with the assigned task to make a flying object using four Popsicle sticks and 12 inches of masking tape. Before assembling the sticks, students will read what they wrote. 
  • After the groups have completed the building of their flying object, have them line up behind a clearly defined line and throw their creation. 
  • After this, have three groups get together to form a larger group of 12. Instead of reading what they wrote, students verbally share their ideas on making character education a part of the class while providing specific examples of when the intentional teaching of character has occurred.
  • One person in the group will then tape the 12 sticks together in one big brick. Then, standing at the line, one student throws this tightly wrapped bundle. This pack of 12 sticks should fly the farthest.

Process and Reflection:

So What?

  • What does it look like to work together as a team?
  • How do team members contribute?
  • What were the differences between throwing one stick, four sticks, and the bundle of twelve?
  • Share a few examples of where you specifically see character being taught in this class or throughout our school.

Now What?

  • What similarities do you see between this activity and situations you encounter at school or in any after-school activity in which you participate?
  • What symbolism is represented in the bundle of sticks, and the words on them, that should be remembered? (The answer you are looking for might be something along the lines of, “Just like the sticks you threw the greatest distance, we might be able to have a greater performance by coming closer together and sharing our hopes, dreams, and what we’ve learned with each other. The closer we become, the greater the trust and the greater the performance.”)
  • What was the most valuable part of this activity for you personally and why?

Bid and Build

Learning Objective: To work together as a team to build a bridge out of objects your team obtains

Materials: A large sheet of paper (or chalkboard, dry erase board, etc.); various items that can be used or not used to get a group from point A to point B (i.e. Frisbees®, sheets of paper, rope, hula hoops, pieces of wood or cardboard, an old garbage can, a tumbling mat, or anything else you can find)


  • For the first part, list all the items that you have gathered on the large sheet of paper, display it for the group to see, and show them the items listed. 
  • Divide the group into at least two smaller teams of two or more and give each group a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. 
  • Explain to the groups that their task is to attempt to get their entire team from one side of an open area to the other side (at least ten yards apart) using any of the items listed and without anyone on their team touching the ground at any time.
  • First, the teams must bid for the items listed. Each team gets 100 points (or $100 in play money) that they may spend however they wish on the items. 
  • They must divide up the points based on what they think will help them the most and write down their bids on the paper given to them. For example, one team may bid 75 points on the Frisbees, and 25 points on the rope. Another team may bid 50 points on the rope, 25 points on the Frisbees, 10 on the paper, and 15 on the cardboard.
  • After all the bids are completed, collect them and divide up the materials based on the highest bid. In the example, the first team would end up with the Frisbees and nothing else, but the second team would get the rope, paper, and cardboard. If there is a tie for any item, you may have the teams bid again on certain items or divide the items up if possible.
  • Once the teams have their items, the second part of this teamwork activity occurs. They must now work together to get their entire team across the open area without any of the team members touching the ground in the process.

Process and Reflection:

So What?

  • Was it hard for your team to agree on what numbers to bid? Why or why not?
  • What did you do to come to an agreement?

Now What?

  • When you disagree with others how do you handle it?
  • How do you feel about your ability to work with others after this activity?
  • What role do you usually take when in a group that is making decisions? Do you feel this is a good role for you? Why?

The Bee Team
Bees can show you something about teamwork. On a warm day, about half the bees in a hive stay inside beating their wings while the other half go out to gather pollen and nectar. Because of the beating wings, the temperature inside the hive is about 10 degrees cooler than outside. The bees rotate duties and the bees that cool the hive one day are honey gatherers the next. 

A Mousetrap

One sunny morning something caught the mouse’s eye through a crack in the wall. It was a package the farmer’s wife was opening. The mouse wondered what kind of delicious food it might contain. To his surprise, it wasn’t food, but a mousetrap! As the mouse scurried out to the yard he shouted a loud warning to all.

“Watch out for the mousetrap in the house! Watch out for the mousetrap in the house!” 

The chicken raised his head and said, “I can tell my friend that this causes you great worry, but it is of no worry to me. Please don’t bother me with it!” 

The mouse then turned to the pig who said, “Sorry Mr. Mouse, it has no consequence to me either.”  

The mouse then turned to the bull who said, “Sounds like you have a problem friend, but it really doesn’t concern me… sorry, I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.”

The mouse went back to the house to face the mousetrap alone. He felt down and dejected. That night the sound of the trap was heard throughout the house – Snap! The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught, but couldn’t see in the darkness that it was a venomous snake. She was bitten!

After rushing his wife to the hospital, the farmer returned home with her. She had quite a fever. The farmer knew the best way to treat her fever was with chicken soup so he took his hatchet to the farmyard to get his main ingredient. The wife grew sicker by the day and friends kept visiting her throughout the days and around the clock. The farmer felt he had to feed them so he slaughtered the pig. The farmer’s wife, unfortunately, didn’t get better and eventually died. There were many, many people who came to pay their final respects. The farmer had the cow butchered so he could feed them all. Each member of the team plays an important role in the team’s success. You may think that because someone on the team is struggling that it doesn’t concern you, but it does. When everyone pulls together the team wins.