What kids don't love a good sleepover or a camping trip with friends. How about an opportunity to sleepover with almost 50 of your closest friends from school; actually at the school.
We recently had a Grade 6/7 school sleepover that was billed as the "Area C Team Building Night". It was a chance to instil some collaboration and teamwork with our eldest group of students at the start of the year (instead of waiting until May for the traditional Grade 7 camp).
Our school is an ideal setting and design for today's learners. It is a classic 1967 Open Area, Costco style, that no one knew how to work in at the time, but is now a model for our new schools in Vancouver. It is separated into 3 large Open Areas (the 4th was closed due to low enrolment), with Area C currently housing two Grade 6/7 classrooms. Area C is also the area that was remodelled into a 21st Century Learning Commons, with a Davinci space for art/science, classrooms with removable walls and a Commons for collaborative work with others. It is the perfect space for project and inquiry based learning with students and fits the needs of today's learner.
I was a approached at the end of last year by one the teachers in that Area about having a school sleepover to bring the students together and build some unity early in the year. I was all for the idea! I knew the students in these two classes and felt their maturity would make the experience unforgettable.
The event started around 4pm, with students having the chance to go home first and gather any belongings for the rest of the night and morning.
The first team building activity was around problem solving, titled "World Trade Centre'. The two classes were placed into teams of 4-5 students named after countries of the world. Each country was given the task of making specific shapes out of paper. The real challenge was in the tools they had to use to make the shapes varied. For example one country was given only a pencil, while another was given a compass, ruler and a pencil. Then the shapes were compared to the actuals and traded in for money. Funny that the countries with the least amount of tools raised the most money.
After an exercise break and some pizza, it was on to activity number 2 - The Amazing QR Code Race. Again in groups, 3 this time, students had full access to the entire school to search for clues. Armed with a clipboard and an iPad, students "walked" through the barely lit school to scan QR codes that would send them to different parts of the school. It was an amazing display of teamwork as each had a role to play in gathering the necessary letters that would be needed for the final phrase. The best part, were the students had a blast doing it. They got to go to places they hadn't been in since Kindergarten or were even allowed during a normal day.
With lights out at 10:30pm, the night was relatively young for a 12 to 13 year old. Not much sleep for many, but the event was one they will never forget. Getting to know others they barely knew and working together on problems that had meaning was what this experience was all about. It has surely set the foundation for more to come in the months ahead. Knowing what is possible will allow the teachers to build more project / problem / inquiry based learning into their everyday activities - without the need to sleepover every night.
I am the Principal at Mount Pleasant Elementary School in Vancouver, BC. I am passionate about inspiring others to be creative, curious and collaborative in their learning