How Important are Group Dynamics?

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How Important are Group Dynamics?

Richard Wise

When planning a WiseUp Team Building event, one of the most common questions we are asked by teachers is “How should we group the students?” As the combination of learners can greatly affect the outcome of the day, it’s a great question to be asked and one we are always happy to advise on.

What is the focus of the Event?

The first consideration to think of is the aim of the day. For example, if communication in a particular focal point, then it would be worth thinking about who the quieter students are and who best to place them with to encourage them to speak out and share ideas. If resilience is what the students need to focus on most, then combining students who have a tendency to give up with those more driven (sometimes, but not always this means mixing low attainers with those who do better academically) can have a positive effect, especially as traditionally these students would be in separate classes.

What about SEN students?

The placement of SEN students is also something which needs to be thought about carefully. The abilities of the students, and any additional support available to them, such as Teaching Assistants, adaptive equipment etc, will all influence the performance of their team. Our instructors work closely with school staff to ensure that all SEN students are fully involved to the best of their ability.

When more than one year group is participating, should the students be grouped with their classmates?

A team structure that is becoming increasingly popular (especially in schools which use the House system) is that of vertical grouping. Similar to vertical tutoring, the concept is based on combining students from across all year groups in one team. This has many benefits, such as encouraging older learners to take more of a leadership role while supporting younger ones, and is a great way for students to positively and constructively engage with each other.

Is it best for school staff or WiseUp to sort the groups?

With group dynamics playing a crucial role in the success of any team building event, teachers are perfectly placed to structure students so that they are poised and ready to begin the day with others who bring out the best in them. Having students working with people who are not part of their everyday friendship groups can often bring out skills and talents which are usually not seen.

 

The Financial Cost Of Outdoor Education

Richard Wise

School residentials are always a memorable part of every student’s education. For some, it will be the first time they have been away from home for more than one night at a time, whilst for others it’s about trying exciting new activities. For all students who attend, the opportunities to learn and build on key skills like communication and social interaction, problem solving and resilience are invaluable to their personal development.

Despite this, a recent study examining The state of school residentials in England: 2017 found that approximately only one in five children experience a residential every year. With increasing evidence to support the numerous benefits of incorporating outdoor learning within the national curriculum, this is a concerning statistic. Even more worryingly, the study revealed that only a third of teachers surveyed were confident that all of their students could afford to participate. Pupils living in more disadvantaged areas were found to be significantly less likely to be able to take part in traditional residentials, with affordability being repeatedly referenced.

What do teachers think?

At WiseUp, we strongly believe that young people’s opportunities to access outdoor learning should not be limited by how much money their families have. This is a view shared by many within the education sector, with delegates at the annual NAHT school leaders union conference voting “in favour of campaigning for protected funding to enable all children to have access to high quality outdoor education” according to Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary.

Whilst that is encouraging to hear, Mr Whiteman also acknowledged that “The education funding crisis is only going to reduce opportunities to participate in residential activities…” with many schools more cash strapped than ever due to budget cuts.  

Year 4 young people fun activities

How do we make outdoor activities more affordable?

WiseUp Team Building offers the ideal solution to enable students in any area to access affordable, high quality outdoor education. As a nationwide outreach company, our teams travel all over the UK to deliver enjoyable and rewarding activity days on school sites, meaning the logistics and cost of removing students from school is eliminated. With a transparent pricing structure and no limit on participant numbers, we also offer half and split day options for all of our activities.

Get in touch

If you would like to hear how our team can provide affordable team building days at your school site, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.

5 Challenging Brain Teasers

Richard Wise

At WiseUp we are passionate about challenging mind and body, and setting people of all ages exciting problems to solve.

Here we bring 5 of our favourite brain teasers. See if you can work out the solutions without cheating!

House under snow, black & white filter

1. The Dark Cabin

You are alone in a cabin, it is completely dark, and you only have one match. In the cabin there is a fireplace, a candle and an old newspaper. Which do you light first?

Bus stop art drawing

2. Bus Stop

You are driving a bus to London. At the first stop two ladies get on. At the second stop, a man and two children get on, and one of the ladies gets off. At the third stop two more men get on the bus and another of the ladies gets off. The bus is red and it is raining outside. But what is the driver’s name?

True or false direction arrows

3. The Liar and the Truth Teller

You are walking along a long road, and you come across a section where the road splits into two. Two men stand in front of each of the paths. One always lies and the other always tells the truth. Along one road will lead to treasures beyond your wildest dreams, whilst the other will lead to nothing, but you are only allowed to ask each man one question to work out which is which.

What question do you ask?

Island and boat paper art

4. Fox, Chicken and a Sack of Grain

You have a fox, a chicken and a sack of grain that you need to get to the other side of a raging river. Unfortunately, your boat is only big enough for one of the three items at a time and if you leave the fox with the chicken or the chicken with the grain, they will be eaten.

How do you get everything to the other side of the river?

Light bulbs

5. Three Lights, Three Switches

You are in a room which has nothing in it but three switches on the wall, and a door. The door leads to another room which contains three light bulbs. You want to work out which light bulb corresponds to each switch but once you open the door, you can no longer touch the switches.

How do you work out which switch is connected to each lightbulb?

Solutions

1. The match of course!

2. YOU are driving the bus.

3. In order to find out the correct path, ask both men ‘if I ask the other man, what road will they tell me is the correct road?” The liar will tell you that the honest man would choose the bad path and the honest man would correctly tell you that the liar would also choose the bad path. Now all you need to do is go down the other path for everything your heart could desire!

4. Take the chicken over on the boat first. Then the fox but bring back the chicken. Then leave the chicken but take the grain and finally do one last trip to pick up the chicken again.

5. This is a tricky one! Turn on the first two light switches and leave them for a few minutes. Then turn off the middle switch. Go through the door and look at the lights. The light that is on will belong to the first switch and one of the lightbulbs will be off but warm meaning it belongs to the second switch. The light that is cold and off will belong to the third switch.

How To Encourage Quieter Young People To Participate In Group Activities

Richard Wise

When it comes to group activities, it can often be a challenge to ensure that everyone feels comfortable to contribute and make their voice heard.

Many educators struggle to ensure that more quiet students make friends and participate in activities, both in and outside of the classroom. At WiseUp, we use a few handy tips to help encourage these young people to participate.

1. Be careful with labels

There is nothing wrong with being quiet, so rather than associating it with negative connotations, we ensure that students feel happy being themselves whilst positively reinforcing times when they go outside their comfort zone to speak up. By focusing on quietness as a strength, and getting the rest of the team to realise that quiet students often have the best ideas, every member of the group is appreciated for their input.

2. Give them responsibility

One great way of increasing a student’s participation is by giving them a responsibility. In the classroom, this can be anything from watering a class plant to being in charge of a work group. During activities outside the classroom, we often look to play to each student’s strengths in the challenges we set. If a child is great at problem solving, we will encourage them to lead the group and display their skills. Similarly, if they excel at physical activities such as running, that will greatly benefit the team with certain activities.

Quieter young people participating in group activities

3. Remove the pressure of participating

Getting up in front of a large group can be intimidating. Rather than increasing the pressure of participation, students work in smaller groups on our activities to help ensure that everyone’s input is needed. By designing many of our challenges to be multi-faceted, students who are feeling less confident are still able to contribute to at least one element of the activity.

In summary

At WiseUp, we host a variety of team building activities for groups of all sizes. We often see quieter students who are reluctant to join in initially, but by playing to their strengths and making them feel appreciated when expressing themselves, many end up surprising their teachers and themselves with how involved they get. Rather than forcing students to participate, we employ a variety of techniques which allow learners to become involved at a pace that they are comfortable with.

To find out more, see our range of activities here.

How much exercise do young people need?

Richard Wise

We hear a lot about the short-term physical implications of a lack of exercise. One in three children are now obese when they leave primary school (a statistic that we’d like to change!). But, looking beyond, what impacts does exercise have on the short-term mental and long-term physical and mental health of our young people? And how much exercise do they need?

What does exercise do for them?

Young people will often find that their sporting and activity time is cut in favour of more ‘educational’ purposes. Yet greater rates of activity for children have been associated with higher reading and math scores and an overall boost in academic achievement. It has also been associated with improved behaviours in the classroom and greater emotional intelligence, promoting a long-term lift in both mood and behaviour. An easy visual assessment; think of a young person’s mood after they have spent an hour in a dark room staring at an iPad vs after an hour of running around in the park with friends. You can often see the physical and emotional difference, can’t you?

So, how much exercise do kids really need?

The NHS recommend that young people between 5 and 18 should be having at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day; this can be a mix of moderate and vigorous activity. Moderate activity can be as simple as walking the dog, with vigorous activity requiring them to get a little more out of breath! We find that some young people are already hitting these targets, but many need a little helping hand.

children exercising

How can we help young people to get involved?

Making activity fun for kids, promoting outdoor education and encouraging team building activities are great ways to foster interests in kids that may otherwise be disengaged with the traditional school sports-hall fare. Encouraging personal development and treating each child as an individual allows them to develop character and confidence. For physical development purposes activity should be mixed. Young people need to develop their muscle and bone strength so getting them involved in alternative sports means that not only are they thinking outside the box, but they are also working on different muscle groups. Think assault courses to develop agility, archery to work on hand-eye coordination and orienteering to help them explore and learn the world (sans Google Maps!).

kids sports day

Active kids are also more likely to grow up to be active adults.

Giving children the opportunity to take part in fun team building and sporting activity allows them to develop into happy, healthy and emotionally developed adults. Whether you are a teacher or parent, the health benefits of getting young children active are numerously beneficial.

We at WiseUp are dedicated to getting children involved in team building activities to help them bond, develop their skill level and ultimately stay fit.

Get in touch today to find out more.

What Does Resilience Mean In Education?

Richard Wise

Resilience is a word often used in education but what does it actually mean and how can outdoor learning have an impact?

Students at every age are under enormous amounts of stress, from school work and exam learning to social situations and potentially difficult home lives. These high levels of stress, particularly in young people, can lead to them becoming emotional, withdrawn, resentful and angry. Whilst many people brush these traits off as “teenage hormones,” there is something we can do to help.

Scientifically speaking, when people are stressed, this can cause the prefrontal cortex of the brain to temporarily shut down. As this is the part of the brain that is involved with problem solving, attention focus, impulse control and regulating emotion, it is vital that we give young people the tools to be able to adapt well to changes and difficulties to reduce this stress level. In short, building them up on the inside to be strong enough to bounce back from whatever life throws at them.

Studies have shown that resilient children are significantly less likely to develop emotional problems as they feel they are worthwhile and can make a difference, both independently and as part of a group. They develop good relationships with their peers through understanding others feelings, flexible approaches to problems and having the ability to laugh at themselves whilst maintaining a sense of purpose that they can get things done.

How can outdoor learning help?

As outdoor practitioners, we realise that transition points in children’s lives can be fantastic opportunities to build on this key skill in a variety of settings. Whether in primary school when students are learning extensive social skills alongside the national curriculum, to high school and beyond, many of the key factors in promoting resilience in young people remain the same.

By giving learners opportunities to contribute to a supportive group of peers gives them positive reinforcement of their choices and helps them develop optimistic thinking to find solutions to problems. Feeling the responsibility of their actions towards the rest of their team can increase student’s confidence, which in turn helps them deal with challenges.

Not only is managed exposure to risk necessary if children are to learn coping mechanisms, but it has been proven that exercise strengthens and reorganises the brain to make it more resilient to stress.

Get in Touch

If you would like to hear how our team can provide enjoyable team building days which help students work on their resilience, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.

5 benefits of learning outside the classroom

Richard Wise

 

Getting out of the school building is often an immediately popular concept for young children. However, it can also have a whole host of benefits for teachers and parents looking to reinforce classroom learning and increase their engagement and teamwork. If you are contemplating out of the classroom activities then let us convince you with these 5 great benefits.

1.  Variety

When teaching in the same style, 5 days a week for 32 weeks of the year, it is only natural that children’s engagement will start to drop. Taking children outside of the classroom allows for creative means of reinforcing the same lessons that children would normally learn, and breaking up the work.

2. Hands on learning

Through technology and books, children can learn a great deal about school subjects, and the help of great teachers can make this learning even more engaging. Despite this, there are some things that simply cannot be taught easily from a classroom. Activities outside the classroom which enable students to use a variety of materials are a fantastic way of reinforcing classroom learning, as well as teaching important skills like team building and cooperation.By gaining hands on experience, some learners are better able to translate ideas and thoughts back into the classroom through the use of other media.

3. Building relationships between peers

School events and team building activities are a fantastic way of getting children to interact with people outside of their initial friendship group. Team building activities, such as orienteering, allow children to see and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of their peers, which may not be as obvious during day-to-day classroom workings. There are a ton of proven benefits to team building activity days that make them an unbeatable way of breaking the ice between students, and getting them to work together.

4. Boosting teacher and pupil relationships

The relationship between pupils and their teachers is an important one. Building respect, authority and a desire to listen and learn to teachers is a process which takes time and effort. Getting out of the classroom is a unique way of helping to cement this bond and building a connection with students. Not only do teachers get to see students displaying a variety of skills in a new environment, by giving students the opportunity to interact with their teachers in different ways opens up new lines of communication. This means that when it comes time to go back to the classroom, students will be more receptive and open to learning.

5. Rewarding students

Whilst outdoor learning is proven to have a string of benefits which make it hugely beneficial to children’s education, children often see getting out of the classroom as treat. Building up excitement to going outside and presenting it as a reward for cooperation between classmates, or getting great results, is a nice way of encouraging students to achieve and work together.

In summary

These are just some of the many benefits that out of classroom events can have for children of all ages. Getting outside and participating in team building activities, or engaging in educational or cultural events, is a fantastic way of supporting the knowledge that children learn at various stages of their education.
If you would like to find out more about our team building activity days, or would like our team to arrange a great event your school, contact us today.

Scientifically proven ways of engaging young minds

Richard Wise

When you have a large group full of young children, it can be hard as an educator to make sure that all of them are learning and engaged at the same pace. At WiseUp, we know that children learn in many different ways; while one solution may work for one child it may completely daunt another. It is important to make sure that these aspects are taken into consideration when teaching in any environment by parents, teachers and instructors..

The following are some scientifically proven ways of engaging young minds, both inside the classroom and outside.

Make learning meaningful

If you have ever tried to teach someone something which they believe has almost no bearing on their day to day life, you will see that it is easy for that learner to become bored and disassociated. In order to remedy this, it is important to add as much perspective and meaning to activities, in order to fully engage students. Research has shown that if students do not consider an activity relevant to them, then their engagement will be significantly lowered. All of our activity options at WiseUp link to students everyday life, as well as the UK national curriculum. This teaches learners valuable skills for their personal development which are transferable to a range of environments, including the classroom, playground, workplace and home.

Relate studies to their personal interests

This point goes hand in hand with the last, but relating children’s studies to their personal interests is a proven way of engaging students, as well as making them happier in general. Not only does this allow students a chance to express their individuality, but it also helps to demonstrate that the learnings can have real world benefits. At WiseUp, we use well known everyday examples to demonstrate the success of learning a multitude of different skills.

Lesson variety

Everyone learns in a different way, so creating a schedule which allows for a variety of different activities is the best course of action for ensuring that all children are learning. Games, group work and outdoor activities are all proven ways of engaging children in their studies, which strengthen key skills such as group work, initiative and proactive thinking. Our many activity options have a strong ethos of being student led which allows learners to make decisions on their own timings, planning and group management.

Don’t focus on academic results

Teaching children through activities which focus not on their academic value, but their curiosity, passion and desire to learn, is something we strongly emphasise at WiseUp. Studies have shown that students who pursue an activity of their own perceived accord, with a desire to learn and understand, are more likely to outperform peers who are merely motivated by grades, or parental pressure.

This demonstrates the value of letting children develop their own passions without constant pressure of academic relevance. This is a great way of tying all of the previous points together, and ensuring that students drive and passion for learning remains through their years of study.

Get in touch

At WiseUp we know a great deal about getting people of all ages engaged in team building and educational activities. We are firm believers that taking children out of the classroom and doing something exciting and new cannot only be a lot of fun, but can really help to reinforce classroom learning and grow important character skills. Get in touch to find out how we can provide exciting activity days in your school.

Team building courses to suit Key Stage learning

Richard Wise

The learning that students undertake from Key Stages 1 & 2 up to Key Stage 5 varies greatly, to suit their ever developing minds. In just a few years, young children go from learning the alphabet and numbers, to writing stories and solving sums.

At WiseUp Team Building we offer exciting team building activity days to suit children at every stage of the Key Stage state education system. We think it is incredibly important to educate children both in and out of the classroom, and team building activity days are a great way to do this.

In line with the National Curriculum, which sets out targets to be achieved at each of the Key Stages, we offer activity days that are specifically tailored to the various subjects and assessments to match each of these stages.

Key Stage 1 & 2

kids rope pulling activities

During these early stages, where children are still developing in primary education, our activity days can make the most of hands on, interactive challenges to help them visualise and use the knowledge they have learnt in the classroom. Culminating in the SATS tests, which will eventually lead them into secondary school, our activity days can be the perfect antidote to getting young children engaged with their learning outside of the classroom.

Great choices for this age group: The Hub Challenge, Assault Course Activity Day, The Bushcraft Challenge.

Key Stage 3 & 4

school children racing

In secondary education, students are faced with taking on greater challenges and development. For many, this transition can be difficult, and the learning curve quite steep.

Activity days can be a fantastic way of overcoming this by getting children active and challenged with a wide variety of fun and educational activities. This will not only support their Key Stage learning in preparation for their GCSEs, but will also help them work closer with their peers and develop their skills for later life. Students are actively encouraged to self evaluate themselves and their teammates, utilising key English language skills to build confidence as they present ideas and solutions in group settings.

Great choices for this age group: Orienteering Activity, The Hub Challenge, The Bushcraft Challenge.

Key Stage 5

Original

Beyond secondary school, Key Stage 5 students are faced with difficult decisions and greater challenges with their education.

At this stage, activity days are a fantastic option for helping to alleviate some of that pressure and building relationships with their peers. The skills and knowledge they will learn in these activity days help to encourage teamwork and problem solving, which will be an asset to sixth-form and college students as they complete their higher education and move on to their next step. Independent learning is crucial at this stage, and is emphasised in the student led approach to activities,

Activity days offer an often much needed escape from the classroom and associated pressures, and a chance to work with their classmates in an engaging, yet still educational, environment.

Great choices for this age group: Apprentice Themed Activity Days, The Hub Challenge, Orienteering Activity.

Get in touch

If you would like any further information on our Key Stage activities or availability, please complete our easy enquiry form or request a call.