Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guest Post: Sandy from Soaring Through Second

Today, you guys are in for a special treat, my bloggy BFF, Sandy from Soaring Through Second is guest posting for me today!  One of my favorite things about blogging has been developing relationships with teachers all over the country, and I'm especially thankful for my friendship with Sandy.  She's such an awesome and innovative teacher, and I know you will really enjoy her guest post!  Make sure you stop by her blog sometime, she has so many tips for managing technology in the classroom! :)
Hi there!!!

It's Sandy from

Soaring Through Second

I have been teaching for five years (this will be my sixth)- two years in 4th grade and three years in 2nd grade. I started blogging in December and it has clearly taken over my free time and I am such a better teacher thanks to all of the amazing teacher blogs out there (like this one!)!!! I am SO SO SO super duper excited to be guest posting for my bloggy BFF Lisa while she is taking care of business and getting moved into her new home!!!

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite back to school activities! I'm all about cooperative learning and teaching my kiddos how to work together (because let's face it- they don't always know how to). And common core & 21st century learning are all about collaboration and working together! So this activity is a prefect way to kick start a great year together! 

All I do is put 15-20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti noodles and 20-25 marshmallows in a bag (easy and cheap!!!). I give each table a bag. And a time limit. And tell them their goal: 

Create the tallest tower possible using only spaghetti & marshmallows!

Before I've even finished explaining the kids are already working and engaged!!!  

In the past, I've assigned kids different roles for their group (see the little tags on their shirts to distinguish their role...); Team Captain, Team Timer, Team Recorder, and Team Presenter. Each team member has a different responsibility for their group- 

The Team Captain keep everyone on track and on task, and makes sure everyone is participating (this is usually the hardest role to teach- especially to the little ones).

The Team Timer watches the clock and lets the team know when/if they are running out of time. 

Team Recorder fills out any paper work or worksheets associated with the task or goal.

The Team Presenter presents the final project with the rest of the class. 

(I adapted all of these roles from the book Teambuilding: Cooperative Learning Structures by Kagan)

Here is the reflection sheet I use! Feel free to click it and grab it! (It's generic enough that you can use it for any group work activity!) 

The kids had SUCH a blast doing this, and they talked about it all year long. At least once a month, one of them would ask me, "When do we get to do that spaghetti and marshmallow activity again???" 

It's also very interesting to sit back and observe... you'll learn a lot about your kids and how they work together! 

This year, I am going to have the kids do one round with their table group, reflect on what worked and what didn't, and then assign them to another group so they can start to work with other new friends. 

Here's to a GREAT 2012-2013 school year!!!

Thanks for having me Lisa!!!

What a great lesson, Sandy! I can't wait to try it during the first few days of school!  :)


  1. Thanks for the reflection sheet since it gets the students focused on the real purpose (teamwork) of the activity. (Because mine will be all about the fun!)

  2. Love this idea! The reflection sheet is great for making it more than just 'fun'- thanks so much for the freebie! :)

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  3. You're so sweet Lisa!!! :-) Thank you for having me!!!!!!!!!

  4. love the group work reflection sheet! thanks :)

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  10. love the group work reflection sheet! thanks :)

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