Put This Into Practice: Leadership Lessons


Objective
Students will participate in a decision-making activity and observe various leadership skills in action. At the conclusion of the activity, students will be able to discuss the various skills of the people in their group and what actions translate to leadership.

Materials
At least five different Little Golden Books prepared for the activity. You may need more books depending on the size of your group. Note: You could do the activity with a different kind of children’s book as long as you do not have visible page numbers and the books you use are an equal number of pages in length.

Time required
30–45 minutes

Procedure
Students must work together to reconstruct each Little Golden Book.

Every Little Golden Book from the $0.25 originals printed back in 1942 to the current $3.00 versions have the same layout: a cardboard cover with a “golden” spine and 12 pages printed front and back, for a total of 24 colorful pages. They are always the same exact size and length and have unnumbered pages, which is what makes this activity work so well.

Make a key for yourself of each book. Record the title of each book and the order of the pages. Because the pages of the book are not numbered, this will be the only way for you to know which order the pages go in for the book to be complete. (This is easiest if you take a picture of each page and keep a digital record for yourself.)

Take your Little Golden Books and, using a box cutter, cut the pages out from the binding of the cover. You should have 12 pages per book (at least 60 pages) and a now pageless set of covers.

Put the students into five groups (or more if you have more books). You should have one group of students for every Little Golden Book. Give each group one book cover.

Shuffle the pages so that they are completely random, and hand each student one of the pages from one of the books. Ideally they should not have more than two or three pages from the book that corresponds to their cover.

Instruct each group to rebuild their book in the correct order of the story, and tell them that you are looking to see who finishes first. Be sure to explain that students cannot hide pages from other groups, and each person can only hold ONE page at a time. Let students interact.

What makes this task difficult is students have to determine what books/stories are being used in the activity, which book they should attempt to reconstruct out of those options, how many pages they will need to have a complete story, and in which order those pages should be placed.

Processing
After students have finished putting their stories back together, have them discuss the following questions (first in their small groups and then with the group as a whole):

  • What steps did your group take to put your book back together?
  • How did you work together?
  • Did anyone stand out as the one giving instructions or guiding the group?
  • What did the leaders do that made this activity easier?
  • Did anything make the task more difficult?
  • What could your group have done differently to be more successful?
  • What does this activity tell us about effective leadership?

Laura Mullen is the NJHS and NEHS (National Elementary Honor Society) adviser at Murphy Middle School in Murphy, TX. She may be reached at laura.mullen@pisd.edu.