Today I did a fun activity with my students to encourage both problem solving and teamwork. It was a good activity because it wasn't too difficult, it didn't take long, and I gave them the instructions completely in Spanish to keep it relevant to my curriculum.
As a team they were presented with a task: Move the stacked cups from one desk to another without touching them. The only materials I gave them were a couple short pieces of string and a rubber band. Though I explained everything to them in Spanish, I did not give them a solution to the problem. I wanted them to talk through it as a group and come up with a solution together (problem solving!).
In the end all of the groups came up with the same solution for moving the cups and it was, in fact, the recommended solution in the photos below. They did try a number of different ideas at first but ultimately this was the most efficient way to take care of the problem. The fun thing is that the task not only requires problem solving skills, but it also takes teamwork. I don't think it would be possible for one person to accomplish it alone.
Unfortunately I heard them talking amongst themselves more in English than in Spanish, so if I do this activity again I think I will prepare them with some vocabulary and a quick review of command forms ahead of time. In my studies of Vygotsky while working on my master's degree, I recall reading something along the lines of second language acquisition necessarily being different from first language acquisition because second language learners already have a language and we cannot ignore it. Forgive the paraphrasing, please. It's been years since I took that course but so much of what I learned there shapes what I do in the classroom today.
Onward and upward, amigos!