I had been looking for a way to teach my students to be cooperative team members when they work as a group on STEM projects. I knew the four different roles I wanted to assign each team member for group responsibilities; they were the typical job assignments for classroom groups:
• a speaker
• a timekeeper
• a recorder and
• a materials manager
Since I was having a hard time teaching the roles and responsibilities to my young students, I decided to create four different characters or personas. I turned the group roles into four distinct personalities.
I led a class discussion about effective group work. Based on student input, I led to the conclusion of four different jobs that we need group members to perform. Next, I introduced each role as a character, and we acted out the behaviors for each character. We practiced first how to represent a character (group member) effectively.
Task cards for each character are provided in color or black & white, as single pages or 4-to-a-page. When we work in groups, I put a set of character cards face down on the tables, and students draw a card.
Creating the characters for our job assignments really helped my students learn how to be effective team members, and the time we spent role-playing has really paid off in terms of behavior management and productivity during cooperative learning assignments.