Team building is a huge part of how I begin the school year. My culinary classes are team oriented so establishing trust and community right from the get-go is critical. This year, I decided to kick it up a notch with some inspiration from my friend and author of Explore Like a Pirate, Michael Matera.
First off, let me say that if you have not yet read Explore Like a Pirate....click HERE and order it now! Michael's brand of gamification is much more than points and badges and all about the power of play and immersive learning! It's changed the way that I teach and look at education forever. Most definitely a game changer!
Over the past few years, I've heard Michael share his awesome ideas for choosing teams and I've pondered how to best make them work in my class. Click HERE for his awesome vlog post on Creating Perfect Groups! One idea that I especially liked was setting up a football style "draft" to pick teams! When talking to him a bit more about it before school started this year, I had an epiphany! Why don't I set up a MasterChef Bootcamp! I could have team challenges planned every day that focus on employability skills such as: communication, collaboration, resilience, critical thinking, etc. To make it even better, I'd hand out Mystery XP badges to the winning teams that they'd collect over the course of the 2 week boot camp. The top 8 XP holders would be selected to be in our MasterChef draft to pick teams for the semester! To add a bit more intrigue, students couldn't scratch off the stickers until the last day! No one would really know who was leading because there were differing point values under each one! This was a shift from what I normally did, but I was so excited about this idea that I had to go for it!
The first day of class I showed my Masterchef Launch trailer to get the students excited about the semester ahead. Then we started right into sharing our Favorite Things lesson! Read my blog post about it HERE! Each day during boot camp I mixed teams so students could all get to know everyone in the class. I made it a side challenge that anyone who could memorize all class member's names by the end of the bootcamp would get a bonus Mystery XP! This encouraged students to really take time to remember names each day.
Some of the challenges I included were the Rice Krispy Favorite Things Challenge, The Marshmallow Challenge, A Digital BreakoutEDU, Mystery Box Challenge, and Culinary Code Names (Read about it in my On The Fly blog post HERE) It was fun to see the interaction between students as they got to know each other. Bringing in an element of play and challenge, established a feeling of community right away. Students loved collecting Mystery XP and the feeling of curiosity that came with unknown XP values hidden underneath.
The day of the last challenge I started class by having students fill out a Masterchef Resume' that would be used to determine the draft picks the next day (though they didn't know that) Included were their 3 strengths, an area of growth, their player type from Bartle's test, and what they looked forward to learning in the class. I used the Save As Doc Chrome extension and had each printed out on a separate piece of paper. Each student on my roster was given a number and then I wrote their numbers on the resume'. Once all resumes' were numbered, I cut off the names so no one would know who they belonged to when making their selections.
The next day, it was time for the draft! Students came in to the sound of dramatic music playing and a message on the screen to get out their Mystery XP and scratch them off to reveal the amounts! I went around collecting XP and writing down how much each student earned on my class roster. It took me just a few minutes to determine who my top 8 XP holders were! When there was a tie, I brought out my foam dice and had a roll off. Once the draft leaders were determined, I sent the rest of the class to kitchens to prep for an upcoming recipe and we began the draft. I had all of the resumes laid out in a grid in the center of the room on two pushed together tables. I had the team leaders gather around and spend about 5 minutes reading them. I explained that they wanted a balanced team, so they needed think about which resume's would best compliment each other. Before they began their selections, I allowed them to choose one classmate that they wanted on their team that would be a known. I had them write it on an index card and I slipped those resumes off of the grid since they were out of play. Then, starting with the top XP holder each team leader chose one resume from the grid. As they made their pick, I took the resume' and matched it to the number on my roster. I let them know who they chose and wrote it down on a paper to start building teams. Once all made their first selection, we went back to the top XP holder again and repeated until all students had been selected. Once the draft was complete, I made an announcement to the whole class as to who was on each team. I let them know that the following class period, students would be cooking with their new teams. The ingredients that they had just measured out would be used by the team assigned to that kitchen the next day to make Cheddar Biscuits! This would be their first cooking lab with their new teams!
Wow! I must say I was a little apprehensive trying this new approach to team building. I was taking a big risk and wasn't entirely sure how it was all going to play out! I couldn't have been more happy with the results. This is definitely the best start I've had. Students have already begun to bond and they are pumped to launch into the MasterChef themed semester! This was the perfect way to build excitement and establish a community right from the start! It truly was a MAGICAL beginning!
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.