Tower Activity to teach Attitude and Effort
Recently I used the Tower Activity to teach the P2A Attitude and Effort tool. Students were put into small groups and the materials were given out in large envelopes. As we went over the differences in materials and physical limitations that would be assigned to each group, the grumbling among students began. Students verbally expressed that they felt the activity “was not fair” and the body language among the groups ranged from excitement to dread as they learned about the limitations that each group would face. After explaining the activity and starting the timer, all groups were able to create something that resembled a tower with the materials they were given. The groups that had physical limitations, such as working with only one arm or working without talking, struggled to make the most of their available resources and many group members seemed “checked-out” of the activity.
After the allotted time had passed, the class reconvened and we discussed how the activity went. Many students felt that the activity presented challenges that prevented them from creating a “great tower” and that they needed either more materials or less physical limitations to achieve the goal. When I asked the students if they brought their best effort to the challenge, most responded “no”. When asked to provide feedback as to why this occurred, many explained that the inability to communicate, use both hands, or have adequate materials prevented them from achieving maximum success. When I asked the students if they brought their best attitude to the task, half of the students responded “no”. When I asked why this occurred, many responded that they felt the challenge was unfair and that the range of materials gave an unfair advantage to the groups that could verbally communicate or use both hands.
I followed up the activity with two video clips and asked the students prior to watching the clip to look for evidence within the clip to support the questions: (1) Do you think the individuals in the clips bring their best attitude and best effort to their everyday lives? (2) Do you think the attitude and effort of the featured individals plays a role in their everyday success? After watching the clips students were able to articulate that fair is not equal and that attitude and effort do play an integral role in the day-to-day successes they will achieve.
I followed the video clips up by asking the students what they could take-away from the tower activity. Students responded:
- I need to stop comparing myself to my twin/sibling/classmates and stop asking why it seems like others have it so easy.
- I need to improve my attitude by changing my thinking. Thinking that everything isn’t fair and complaining isn’t helping me to reach my goal.
- I need to improve my effort by making better use of what I have and stop focusing on what I don’t have.
- I need to stop giving up before I have even started, especially when I feel like a challenge is going to be hard or something that doesn’t come easy to me.
Although I don’t think that this activity will result in the creation of perfect attitudes or effort for every student, I do feel as though students have a visible idea of what bringing your best attitude and effort to every challenge means. They now understand what it means when we tell them to exemplify Kyle Maynard and leave the excuses behind. They understand what we mean when we tell them to be a problem solver and make the best use of their resources like Patrick Hughes. I closed the lesson with the statement, “Talent will only get you so far; the attitude and effort you put behind that talent is what will ensure you achieve your goals.”