July 25

Independently choosing Learning Teams from now on

If you have checked out our Collaboration page, then you know about how our teams work in my classes, if not, here is a quick summary.

That was a brief summary. Now for some change in practice.

To begin with I am in charge of how teams are constructed and I choose the combinations of students so there is a constant mix of gender and ability. I do this for the first two terms.

At the end of last term, each team member completed a personal reflection sheet on how they saw themselves with their organisation and team skills so far. They rated themselves either Never, Sometimes or Always, then shared their reflections with the team. The team discussed each member’s in turn and negotiated their placement with a T in the category.

On the first day back for term three, I asked the students what qualities/skills/behaviours they thought they would like to see in a team member. They came up with a comprehensive list.

I asked them to compare this list and to look back at their own checklist from the previous term.

Were there things they were super confident in? Were there some things they needed to work on or could put extra effort into? Were there some things they were struggling with? Did we have perfect students?

How could we support everyone to become the best they could be?

I was now in the process of handing over the negotiating of team members to them.

Criteria for selection

Not with someone from the previous team.

Select a member from the opposite gender that you can work with. Once you have a pair, find another to make a team.

Have three things that you will support each other with. How will you do that? Record this in your team books.

Reminder about the language of negotiation.

It was important to model the process of asking and negotiating. Being proactive as opposed to waiting. What happens when you don’t get the answer you thought you would? What could you do?

Once that was completed the students found their record books and team books and begun sorting out their new teams for weeks 1-5.

It was interesting to see them take control. They were a little hesitant at first, but as some modelled actively seeking out suitable team mates and sitting down to compare checklists, others soon followed. There were some students who forgot to bring their lists and couldn’t complete this stage, so by default, they became team members and could sit down to sort out their support strategies.

Teams could also select any table, should it still be available.

Once they had completed their recordings, they set about writing a common set of rules. We have been working on being clear in statements saying what, why and how we want things. They are really becoming good at this.

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Checkout this round of team rules. I love the variety and explicit nature of their expectations.


Once the rules have been negotiated and recorded, they proceed to the regular morning tool check. As it is the first one of the week, they also choose a focus for the week again being clear as to what, why and how.

These children have come a long way from their first attempts at this process and continue to build their skills in actively listening and engaging in collaborative team work. I was very proud of them on the first day back.

Your turn to think

How did you feel about selecting your own team this term?

What do you think about your new team?

How will you make sure you do what you said you would do?

Would you prefer Ellen to create teams? Why? Why not?

D you have any suggestions for teams or team work?

What type of team criteria would you like to see?

Posted July 25, 2017 by elleneisenkolb15 in category Health, Integrated Tasks, Team work

10 thoughts on “Independently choosing Learning Teams from now on

  1. Sabitri

    Dear Scarlett
    Thank you for being a nice friend to me, I appreciate it. I also appreciate it when you are always listening because some people are talking and I turn and see you looking and listening. I also like it when you sticking up for me. I hope to see you at a play day!

  2. Natalie Howard

    Hi Ellen,
    How was your holiday? It feels weird driving on the wrong side of the road doesn’t it. I hope you are used to the Australian way again. I am really impressed how far you have already got rm14. I have been trying really hard with my times tables. I have even learnt about PI if you knows what that means. I really like our timelines they look great. I am so Happy you are my teacher because you always ake things fun and happy. I hope you like my present I am going to give to you on Monday week 2. About the learning teams the first time we got to choose all the same gender or the way you did it. Everyone wanted the new way. But then everyone started to get silly so we switched back to your way. I think you should choose our learning teams because when we partner up some people make bad choices. I don’ think Thomas and Matthew should work together because they are never heads down working. I am going to now try my very very hardest because I want my report to be good. I am not saying that I have never been trying my hardest but I mean I want to try more harder.
    I hope everyone continues to strive for the critiria for success. I like how everyone in our class strives for accuracy, I like that because it leads to success. How was your holiday? What kind of eclipse was it Luna or Solar?
    For acc reader this term my goal is to get 300. and I am already on 21%. What is your favorite thing to do with the class?
    one of your chipmunks

    1. elleneisenkolb15 (Post author)

      Howdy Natalie (my hard working chipmunk),
      My goodness what a fabulous comment I just read. I thank you for your kind words, I do love being back with my little friends once more. Yes the holiday was absolutely wonderful. It was indeed strange to drive a car that had the same controls but reversed and remembering to stay on the correct side was weird, but I soon got used to it. I had to do all the driving because my map reading skills are hopeless, so Peter did all the navigating, he is an expert at that! The solar eclipse was spectacular and I would love to show you all some photos. Mind you the other places we visited were awesome too. We seem to never have any spare time!
      It was unfortunate that the choices people made spoilt your team work. Mr Borg hasn’t been teaching very long, so he is still learning how to manage classes. I’m sure he’ll discover how to get kids working hard even if they are silly at times and be a great teacher one day. I wonder how he is going in England?
      I never doubted that you are working hard Natalie, you are always finding ways to better your skills and make them stronger and that’s ok as long as you don’t get too worried over things. Having 300% is an impressive goal, however perhaps striving to get 100% on each quiz at your level would be a way to get there. Have you also taken the literacy and vocabulary quizzes too?
      As for those two annoying lads on your table we need to stop that from interfering with your learning. Let me know if they continue to go off task once you have supported them in their choices.
      Its hard to choose a favourite thing as we do so much together. I do love reading out aloud to you and having fun and watching you all do your best and become excellent learners… oh I can’t decide so I’ll just say teach!
      How do you feel about going into grade four next year? What are you looking forward to? What might make you a little worried? You’ll be there before you know it. How exciting! Is your family planning any more wonderful adventures, you guys have so much fun.
      Warm regards
      Ellen Head Chipmunk.

  3. Cleo

    Dear Ellen,
    I really miss you and I wish you could come back but I know that you cant! I hope that you have a great time for the rest of your holiday and I look forward to seeing you when you get back!! I saw the pictures on Class Dojo and I thought they were wonderful!!

    Love From Cleo(Your Best Friend)
    Ps. Can you please send some more photos if you think what is amazing!! Thanks!

  4. Cleo

    Dear Ellen,
    I have finished all of my times tables! I finished them on Tuesday the 8th and Sabitri finished hers on Friday the 11th! I hope you are having a wonderful time, because when you come back you can share all the fun and exciting things you did, on your holiday. I wish I went as well because I think it is so cool! So I will be happy when you come back! I think everybody is having a wonderful time with Mr Borg because I am! After lunch everyday we do this thing called Smiling Mind and we lye on our backs, and take deep breaths so we are calm and it goes for about 12 minutes. I really like it because when you come back in from lunch, some people are a bit tired so it is good for that because you are lying down and relaxing!
    Love From Cleo

    1. elleneisenkolb15 (Post author)

      Hello Cleo,
      Congratulations on your accomplishment I knew you and Sabitri would show the others. I hope they are working hard too. Great that you are enjoying the relaxation for your mind. I used to do that many years ago but we never got all our work done Perhaps his version is Better. I hear the kids are being rude to Mr Borg. Oh dear, you will show folk the right things to do. What will you plan to do now that your tables are ok? Will you practice them? Say hi to everyone.
      Warm regards Ellen
      Ps. I saw a woodpecker today on my 8 hour walk!

  5. Phoebe

    Dear Ellen
    I really enjoyed choosing our learning teams because we had to choose a different gender and a lot people think that being friends with a different gender is funny but it’s not because anyone can be friends with whoever they want to be friends with. I really like my new learning team because we get along well, remind each other what to do if they are doing something wrong and we like to discuss our ideas to get better ideas. We will make sure we do things that we said we would by checking every time we think we are not doing the right thing. Well I think yes Ellen should choose our learning teams and no because if Ellen chooses our learning teams it give us a highly likely chance that we can become good friends if we are not that good friends with someone and if we choose our learning teams we can choose to be with someone that’s super organised like me. Sorry I do not have any suggestions for our learning teams. I would love to see people following the criteria of success because I think that some people don’t because they could be rude to you or bully you and that’s not working or acting together. I really miss you!! Why can’t you come back this very secondddd!! 😭
    oh and I am better at acc readers than last term I am already on 50% and it’s only the 3rd week
    From Phoebe

    1. elleneisenkolb15 (Post author)

      Howdy Cleo ,
      Good that you are really focused with your reading. Keep reminding everyone that I expect them to be hard at it. I will come back not this second though.. give me a few more minutes … say a whole terms worth. Have you all been giving Mr Borg a lot of respect? It is really hot over here like our summer. I am going off to see some historical museums. Did you know that Portland is not as old as Adelaide. I saw a squirrel this morning as I was going to get things from the market for breakfast it was so cute! Enjoy your day.
      Love Ellen

  6. Cleo

    Dear Ellen,

    I felt good because it is nice to see how you can help people and how they can help you!! I think our team is good I am. Just a little bit worried about the boys on my team because they are always being silly and they are a bit annoying! We will make sure we do what we said we were going to do, by reminding each other about it, behaving good and being sensible and being a good learner! I would like Ellen not to pick Learning Teams and I would like her to. Yes so that nobody argues and says that they don’t want to go with that person when the other person wants to! No because it is a good experience to see who wants to go with you and who doesn’t also it is good because you see who can help you and what you can help them with! No I do not have any suggestions. I would like to see people working together acting, together and thinking together and I would also like to see everyone helping their partner do what they are meant to help them with and their partner helping them.

    From Cleo (The Very Busy Tiper)

    1. elleneisenkolb15 (Post author)

      Greetings Cleo,
      You are a very busy typer, I think you could model thoughtful comments for the others that’s for sure. You will always have people working with you that do things differently and sometimes it can be annoying. Being able to handle things positively will help everyone, but don’t let it get too out of control let Mr Borg know so that he an monitor them.it can be hard to be nice to someone that is behaving badly but when you do then bot of you become strong. I agree with you too, I would like to see everyone working, thinking and acting together too. I’ll dream about it and when I get back I may finally see it.
      Cheers Ellen


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