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Large Group Problem Solving Activities

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

While small groups have their advantages, large group work can also make students approach problems in new ways. These activities will help your students practice working in large groups to solve a problem.

Problem Solving in Large Groups

A lot of times, when we assign group work to our students, they are in relatively small units. However, there can be advantages to using very large groups at times. Large group work requires different skills for communicating and managing ideas. It can force some students to be more assertive, and others to listen to a wider range of ideas. The following problem-solving activities are meant for larger groups but are adaptable to meet the needs and size of your specific classroom.

Large Group Problem Solving Activities

Living Checkers

Using chalk, ropes, or pieces of paper taped to the floor, set up a checkerboard. Divide the group into large teams, have each select a team captain, and set them up on the checkerboard. Students will play against each other, using their bodies as the checker pieces. Each team still only gets one move per turn, so students will have to work together to determine moves. One option, if viable for your class, is to have each group set up a group text beforehand with their group members. This way, they can plan a strategy without having to talk aloud.

  • Materials: Chalk/rope/paper for checkerboard, plastic/paper crowns if desired

Team 20 Questions

Divide the class into large teams. You will select something in your mind to be the object that the teams are trying to guess. Teams will flip a coin to see who goes first. The first group will ask you a question with a yes/no answer to try and figure out what object you're thinking of. If they did not guess the object, then the next group gets a turn to ask a question. In their large groups, students will have to figure out how to coordinate guesses since they can only ask one question as a group per turn. You will do this for a total of twenty turns, meaning each group will only get to ask ten questions. If they failed to guess the object, give each group ten minutes to talk about what went wrong and devise a better strategy for getting everyone's thoughts and opinions. Then, try again with a new object in mind.

  • Materials: Writing supplies if desired

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