Coach education

10. Child collaboration and problem solving

At MoF, sessions should be designed around a Problem Statement and activities should be game-based.  Some of the 15 minutes of non-active time will be used in drink breaks, giving instructions and demonstrations of how the activity works. These need to be kept to a minimum. The rest of the time should be for:

  • Teaching – showing, telling, Q&A
  • Giving feedback
  • Allowing children time together to plan, reflect, review, discuss and share ideas, assess themselves and each other

How do we make this time work best?

  • Sit children down so they are not facing another game or group (focus is on you)
  • Pose a question or scenario for them to consider
  • Ask them to work with their team or someone sitting next to them to come up with an answer or solution
  • Make sure all children are in a group or pair
  • Coach and Asst Coach make sure all groups and pairs on task – listen, support if needed
  • Have some follow-up questions that add complexity for those groups or pairs who finish early
  • At end “Pose, Pounce, Bounce”: Ask the question again (pose), then ask someone to answer (pounce), then immediately ask the rest of the group if they agree or not (bounce).

When will this work best?

  • The question, problem or scenario needs to be difficult to solve, and impossible to solve on own (need to socially construct a solution)
  • The question, problem or scenario needs to relate to the problem they have been trying to solve – usually in the activity they have just experienced
  • If the activity has lacked intensity, then so will the discussion and collaboration (clue: make the activity intense first)
  • The group should end with some new understanding, new plans to try in the activity, new roles, new tactics or new challenges
  • During the activity, remind and show the children the situations you have discussed (recreate the situation if needed with ‘Stop Stand Still’ coaching)

How to include children who don’t usually engage?

  • Put quieter children together in one group or pair
  • Nominate a leader for each pair or group
  • Go to talk to those children separately during discussion
  • Pounce on them during ‘Pose Pounce Bounce’
  • Get groups or pairs to use whiteboard to note ideas (rather than using verbal responses)

Peer learning & facilitating peer learning

We need to work toward a stage where children are comfortable giving feedback to each other, offering help to each other, and asking each other for help. Importantly, we need to work towards this happening without an adult instigating it. This will take time of course, but there are ways in which we can accelerate it:

  • Develop trust among children (listen to each other respectfully, make it OK to not know the answer)
  • Give children time to get to know each other, and to work together on problems
  • Assign roles to different children, giving them the chance to be Captain and lead the problem solving for their team
  • Treat all children fairly and give equal time to them all to answer questions, offer their suggestions etc. Seek out the opinions and ideas of those who don't usually offer them

Collaboration: An example

The session below is one from our Sunday programme, working with 9-11 year olds. The Problem Statements the group had been working on were within the topic of small team defending strategies, such as "How to Defend Patiently", "How and When to Press High", "How to Defend in order to Counter-Attack".

The session in the video was from late in the term when the group had reached a stage of working together to "plan, do and review" game strategies. Scenarios were given to small teams, and time was given to plan a strategy. This type of collaboration and problem solving is a vital part of the MoF programme. 

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Mark Carter

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